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FAC: Assassinate Mahathir? Ho-hum!
By Raja Petra
11/1/2002 12:22 pm Fri
Friday, 11-Jan-2002 10:22 AM
Assassinate Mahathir? Ho-hum!
On Christmas Day, news broke that there exists a plot to assassinate
Malaysian Prime Minister Dato Seri Dr Mahathir Mohammad. The
report was carried as the Sun's headline story. Strangely enough
though, no other newspaper carried the story; whether front page or
The person allegedly behind the assassination plot is Raja
Kamaruddin Raja Wahid, better-known as 'Raja Komando'. Raja
Komando first met fame when he testified at Anwar Ibrahim's trail that
he had attended a meeting chaired by Mahathir's political secretary
then, Aziz Shamsuddin, to discuss how to fix Anwar up.
Raja Komando refused to be part of the conspiracy and immediately
went to see Anwar to inform him of the plot. Raja Komando has since
repeated this story many times in ceramahs and interviews and has
challenged the government to arrest him if what he says is not true.
The government has so far not taken up the challenge though Raja
Komando has seriously damaged Mahathir's credibility with his
revelation. If you go by Raja Komando's story, clearly Anwar is a
victim of a political conspiracy and the trials he was dragged through
were just instruments in justifying his incarceration.
When Mahathir was approached about the assassination story he just
laughed it off. He said he is used to and immune to such rumours as
he has heard many in his twenty years as Prime Minister. He does not
know where the Sun got their story from but he is sure the Sun, like
any newspaper, would have their credible and reliable sources.
Mahathir practically brushed the story aside and implied that
Malaysians should just ignore it. After all, if it is true, the police would
certainly have informed him about it. The fact the police said nothing
means it cannot be true explained Mahathir.
The police, too, when asked about the matter, said they knew nothing
about this assassination plot. This is the first time they had heard
about it and would interview the Sun's reporters concerned to get
It certainly looked like the Sun had stumbled across a scoop that not
even the Prime Minister or the police were aware of. Where,
therefore, did the Sun get their story from?
According to the Singapore Straits Times that interviewed the Sun's
Editor-in-Chief, Mr. H'ng Hung Yong, the news report had actually
been prepared two weeks before it was published. It was then shown
to a certain Deputy Minister and his Deputy Press Secretary who
okayed the report. Only then was it released.
Mr H'ng would not name the Deputy Minister or Deputy Press
Secretary involved and would leave it to them to come forward and
identify themselves. Understandably, the Deputy Minister and Deputy
Press Secretary concerned have chosen to remain anonymous while
Mr H'ng and the reporters involved were sacked for publishing a
false news report.
The Sun subsequently published an apology. They, however,
apologized to the Prime Minister and not to Raja Komando. If the
assassination story is not true, then it is Raja Komando and not
Mahathir who is the victim here. Why apologise to Mahathir instead of
On New Year's Day, the Sun's staff picketed in protest of the
sacking of their Editor-in-Chief and a few other journalists. According
to the union spokesman, those sacked were not responsible for the
story and should not be punished for it. The story had, in fact, come
from 'higher up' and those sacked are now being made the fall guys.
On the day the story was published, the person responsible for it -
the higher up - was on leave leaving the juniors to run the story and
take the fall for it.
The Sun's union also objected to the apology the Sun had made to
the Prime Minister. It is fine to apologise if the story they ran was not
true. But the story was true so why apologise? It seems the union
knew much more about the matter than what the government thought.
If we go by what everyone is saying, the story was not a mistake but
part of a scheme and planted by certain higher ups in the Sun, in
league with Deputy Ministers and Press Secretaries.
There appears to be the traditional Malaysian mystery at work here.
From what is being reported by the Singapore Straits Times and
statements from the Sun's union and recently deposed editors and
journalists, there was no mistake. They knew what they were running
- a story that was given to them by certain people of authority and
subsequently approved by them for release. What, then, is going on?
I then checked with some other newspaper reporters and this is what
one of them told me. This story, in fact, had first emerged THREE
MONTHS before it was published in the Sun. This was when Bukit
Aman had summoned all the reporters for a press briefing to inform
them about the KMM issue. According to Bukit Aman, the KMM was
behind the murder of Lunas State Assemblyman Dr Joe Fernandez
and the bombings or burnings of Hindu Temples. And there is also a
plot to assassinate the Prime Minister.
The reporters, however, were told not to publish the part about the
Prime Minister's assassination plot as this information is for their
knowledge only and not for publication. In short, there was an
embargo on this part of the news.
As we all know by now, the story about the KMM was reported in full
except for the part about the plot to assassinate the Prime Minister.
But, as luck would have it, NONE of the Sun's reporters were present
at the Bukit Aman briefing that day, and no one knows why? Did the
Sun just not send anyone or were they not invited? No one would
say. And, soon later, a story about the Prime Minister's assassination
plot was leaked to the Sun.
My only conclusion is that the Sun was set up to run a story that was
not true. The story was meant as a shocker to alarm Malaysians into
turning against the opposition. Malaysians are a peace-loving people
and, while they would oppose the government, bumping off the Prime
Minister is something they would not tolerate. The plotters probably
hoped that, once this news broke, people would be up in arms and
demand the government arrest all the opposition leaders under the
But that was not how the people reacted. The story did not even
cause a ripple let alone a stir. In fact, the day the story broke, the
Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange jumped 30 points. (It fell again a week
later when the PM announced he would stay one more term).
The plot had backfired. If the people knew that the government was
behind the story it would come out looking very stupid and, in future,
any such stories would be brushed aside. So they had to declare the
story false and make someone take the blame for it. That was the only
way they could wash their hands off the whole thing.
And the poor Sun reporters were those 'assassinated' in the end.