Laman Webantu   KM2: 6552 File Size: 5.3 Kb *

| KM2 Index |

KY: M'sian by-election set for Jan. 19 - SCMP: Killer scoop unravels

3/1/2002 12:13 am Thu

Malaysian by-election set for Jan. 19

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan. 2, Kyodo - A Malaysian by-election expected to show support for Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's tough stance on terrorism has been set for Jan. 19, Election Commission chairman Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman said Wednesday.

The by-election for the northern Perlis state assembly seat of Indera Kayangan is set to pit the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), a partner of the Mahathir-led ruling coalition, against the National Justice Party (Keadilan) led by Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, wife of Mahathir's former deputy Anwar Ibrahim.

The seat fell vacant following the death of state assemblyman Khor Liang Tee of the MCA on Dec. 19. In the 1999 general elections, Khor defended his seat against Keadilan's Ko Chu Liang, winning by 1,974 votes.

Indera Kayangan, a small sleepy town in Perlis state, has 7,976 registered voters.

The by-election will be the country's first since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.

In 1999, Mahathir appeared to have lost ground to the opposition coalition composed of the Pan Islamic Party (PAS), Keadilan, the Democratic Action Party (DAP) and the People's Party of Malaysia. However, since Sept. 11 Mahathir's political fortune has been on the rise, according to political pundits.

Mahathir's tough stand on terrorism and extremism may not only win over non-Muslim votes but also moderate Malays chagrined by PAS' call for a holy war against the U.S. for attacking Afghanistan.

Indera Kayangan will be the test of whether that theory is true.

There is an even mix of Malay-Muslims and ethnic Chinese voters in the constituency at just over 47% each.

Mahathir's new-found popularity aside, the opposition is also in tatters after the predominantly Chinese DAP pulled out of the coalition due to PAS rigid stance on its Islamic-state objective.

In fact, the DAP has said it will stay away from the Indera Kayangan by-election.

The only thing that may work against Mahathir's ruling National Front coalition is squabbling within the MCA, the second largest party after Mahathir's own United Malays National Organization.

Whether the MCA is able to secure the seat will not change the political equation in the state. In the 1999 general elections, the National Front controlled 12 out of the 15 seats in the state legislative body. The other three went to PAS.

The South China Morning Post, HK
31st December 2001

Heads roll as killer scoop unravels


What was intended as a Christmas Day scoop turned into a costly blunder for a Malaysian newspaper.

Editors of the Sun had rushed to finish the Christmas Eve edition with a bombshell of a story, or so they thought. On Christmas Day the paper had a screaming headline: "Plot to kill PM."

It told of an alleged plot by local politicians who had hired an assassin to kill Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and his deputy, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, in "a month or two".

The story, based on anonymous sources, also named the purported plotter as opposition party official Raja Commando.

Reporters returning for work after the Christmas break found a shattered newsroom. The story was denied all round, the paper's top two editors had resigned and four others were suspended. Lawsuits and a criminal investigation are imminent.

Dr Mahathir was angry, saying the report gave the impression killers were on the loose.

His deputy, who heads the Home Ministry that oversees all publications, threatened to suspend the daily. Police scrambled to call editors and reporters to nail their sources.

The fact that the Sun is owned by business tycoon Vincent Tan, who is close to Dr Mahathir, did not stop the newsroom bloodletting. Apologies on front pages were offered, an internal inquiry started and two new managers sent in. But the blunder mystery endures.

Andy Ng, the editor and one of two who resigned, maintained that the daily had the story "for weeks" and that they had checked it with a deputy minister and a deputy press secretary of a senior minister before publishing.

"None of them stopped us from publishing the story," he told the Malay Mail. "We stand by our story."

After giving this statement, Ng was questioned by police for four hours, amid speculation on the identity of the deputy minister. "We want to know how they got the information on the alleged plot and why they decided to run it as a banner headline," Mr Badawi said.

In a further twist, the alleged assassin turned up to say he never had any plans to commit murder.

"This is not the Malaysian way," said Raja Kamaruddin Raja Abdul Wahid, who is known as Raja Commando in political circles. He is a middle-level official of the National Justice Party of jailed former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim.