Tuesday, September 12, 2006


Zainon Ahmad's commentary in theSun yesterday ["Best to exit like a statesman"] makes him the first Malay editor of an English-language mainstream newspaper to do what the likes of Kalimullah Hassan, Brendan Pereira and P. Gunasegaram have been doing - demonise the former PM.

"By not being a delegate on Saturday," Zainon writes, "(Dr M) will never be a source of embarassment to the leaders of the party and the assembly this November. Better still for everyone concerned if he did not attend at all - even as a guest."

The former theSun's group editor-in-chief and now its political editor (and scriptwriter for What They Say) was never known to be critical of Dr Mahathir when the Tun was prime minister.

But in yesterday's article, he came out of the woodwork. He quoted an unidentified speaker at a What-They-Say-like gathering in a house in Kubang Pasu a couple of days before the divisional election:

"..do we want to allow (Dr M) in his old age - when he is probably incapable of making the right decision anymore - to become a delegate and to suffer all manner of indignities? We must protect him and shield him."

The ensuing para was probably meant to be a swipe at some editors from a recent past (Zainon could also be aiming this at himself as he was one of the senior editors of NST during Dr M's era):

"Indeed that had been the role adopted by some newspaper editors occasionally in the days when he was the prime minister: to protect Mahathir from his own excessive vehemence and to make Mahathir look good."

Compare Zainon's piece with veteran Rejal Arbee's blog-commentary here and Zainon's ex-boss' analysis here. In Jakarta, blogger Unspun had an earlier take here.


  1. Anonymous3:05 pm

    Apa na dihairankan dengan pendirian Zainon ini. Bukankah dia dibesarkan di ladang getah Kuala Ketil bersama dengan pekerja-pekerja estate yang hampir kesemuanya orang India. Maka dia pun terikut-ikutlah dengan perangai India. dia pun faseh cakap Tamil.
    Kerana itulah waktu di NST dulu dia amat akrab sekali dengan reporter-reporter India.
    Perasaan Melaynya sudah lama malap.


  2. I almost vomit when I read the it in the sun.

  3. I almost vomit when i read the commentary monday morning. Luckily i had not taken my breakfast yet.

  4. Patronizing scumbags, aren't they?

  5. Rocky!

    I was going to write exactly what saudara Bakar wrote, touche! Saudara Bakar!


    Apa na dihairankan dengan pendirian Zainon ini. Bukankah dia dibesarkan di ladang getah Kuala Ketil bersama dengan pekerja-pekerja estate yang hampir kesemuanya orang India. Maka dia pun terikut-ikutlah dengan perangai India. dia pun faseh cakap Tamil.
    Kerana itulah waktu di NST dulu dia amat akrab sekali dengan reporter-reporter India.
    Perasaan Melaynya sudah lama malap.

    Ya! mimang betul Zainon ini tidak ada pemikiran Melayu sadikit pun. He is a very bossom buddy of Kalimullah and yes I have heard them speaking Tamil with each other. Yes, he never uttered anything bad about Dr M, now Tun,when he was sucking up to the NST and true I have never liked this hypocrite Zainon. And listen up Umno leaders and the Sultan Sultan, when you decide to recommend this Zainon for Datukship please think twice or three times. Mimang betul perasaan Melayu "Kak" Enon ni memang dah malap, and yes he was a gutless wonder when he was a feature editor, he is one of those guys if I saw them having a flat tyre in a very lonely stretch of road and I was driving by I would stop and double check if he was indeed in trouble, and then I will just drive of!

    This is a very sad country with a lot of sad people! For Kak Non to demean a former leader with world standing and this Kak Non refused to see why this former leader is piss off, well go back to Sg Ketil where you belong!
    Sorry that I am reduced to pettiness but certain issues are beyond good manners how I wish I have the power and put all these @#$$ lickers where they properly belong! Kak Non may be you can ask you rich friend to loan you some money so you can buy a house in Perth and stay there! Like what your friends will be doing very soon!

  6. Anonymous5:25 pm

    Zainon wrote the article on the express orders of Ho Kay Tat, who got the instructions from Kali, who got his from SIL, who was provoked by the 4th floor.

    Which is not to say they all hold the Sun in high esteem. Just that they wanted a Malay editor in an English paper to wallop the old man.

    Zainon is a lame old horse, who is not worth anything these days. His column is a joke.

    It is true that he is more Indian than Malay. It is true that his great Indian buddies in the NST and Malay Mail were the rising stars whom he had very cleverly aligned himself to.

    He had to as these Indians ruled magnificently, and the Malays loved them for their dedication and commitment to keep the flag flying high for the Umno papers.

    These were the likes of Jacob Paul, the late A Sri K Nayagam, R Nadeswaran, Ratan Singh (MA Razman), the late Francis Emmanuel, Frankie D'Cruz, Balan Moses, Alan de Souza (Alan Rashid), Joseph Soosai etc.....

    In fact, I stopped calling him a Malay long time ago!

  7. Anonymous7:00 pm


    I for one have no problem with Zainon knowing Tamil, once lived in an estate or finding Indians better company.

    This is after all a multi-racial country and we have friends of all races. Let us not go down the slippery slope of racism. Let us discuss his writings and see where it will lead us.

    Obviously, it is a fine time to suddenly develop balls vis-a-vis Dr M. How he wished he had them then. Nevertheless, I wish he will find strength and courage from his recently developed balls to take a critical view of the current administration, too.

    What he proves to us is that he is:

    i. like all the past editors he lambasted, is doing the same thing, and worse, in molly-coddling and being over protective, as well as glossing over Pak Lah's failings.

    He must be joking, or putting something else in his pipe, if he thinks the present administration is something we all should be proud of.

    ii. like the all the current songbirds for PM, he is not concerned of his credibility as a journalist, or as a person.

    I doubt he really believes in what he writes, and if he does, then he must be living in another country.

    Surely a man of his experience and knowledge, and contacts, would have easily concluded that the current adminsitration, at the state it is in, is no longer tenable. Surely, in his most private moments, he would longed for some leadership in the country.

    iii. turning into a spindoctor for Putrajaya, this late in his career, it is pathetic. He should not have to do so, but what can we say.

    Zainon should know that the Sun, despite all its bravado, is a one trick pony - to go after all the enemies of Khairy and Pak Lah, but never touch a hair on them.

    The Sun's mission. in the guise of new found media freedom, is to deconstruct and destroy Dr M's legacy. But never to question Putrajaya.

    Read it daily, and you will see. Zainon will agree, too.

    The question we should ask Zainon is:

    Does he really believes in what he writes?

    I know he tries to be objective, arguing that Dr M has had his day, and now should stay clear of Pak Lah. Fine, but should Dr M, and all of us continue to play with our fiddles while Putrajaya burns.

    We should not pity Dr M for what happened in Kubang Pasu. We should instead pity us, the country, our kids.

    What has Dr M to lose? His reputation, his legacy? Warts and all they will all be there for us and historians to judge. Dr M is making noise now because he thinks he still matters, and perhaps can influence things here and there.


    In this issue, there is no place for objectivity. We should not fall into the trap of trying to rationalise the failings of Putrajaya by throwing stones at Dr M.

    That is too easy; distract the masses so that they would not see the failings of their leaders.

    I have seen too many people - politicians, businessmen, journalists, etc - conveniently throw away their principles like soiled tissue papers, that I am not surprise by Zainon's piece. In fact, for some people, it is top be expected.

    Zainon, look deep into your conscience. I wish you well, and good luck on your Datukship.

    Damn, now I am pissed.


    ps/ Bru, now I have found something to bungkus the kitty litter with.

  8. Anonymous7:26 pm

    "By not being a delegate on Saturday," Zainon writes, "(Dr M) will never be a source of embarassment to the leaders of the party and the assembly this November. Better still for everyone concerned if he did not attend at all - even as a guest."


    Hentam, jangan tak hentam, Pak Non.

    Di zaman Pak Lah had hari kalau nak hidup kita kena pandai bodek.

    Ramai wartawan di media arus terutama yang memegang jawatan tinggi tidak lagi mempunyai integriti. Kalau nak hidup kena pandai main politik, ia itu
    mesti pandai bodek. Kalau tidak di turunkan pangkat, “kick upstairs” dan “put in a cold storage,”

    Sama juga saperti ahli-ahli poli-tikus sekarang. Ramai yang pengecut, takut bersuara menentang kemungkaran dalam pentadbiran sekarang, tak ada integri & tak berprinsip dan bukan berjuang untuk kebenaran tetapi untuk mempertahankan kepentingan kedudukan sendiri.

    Dan anda adalah dari golongan tersebut.


  9. Anonymous7:34 pm

    Personal sentiments aside, one should take opinions with an open mind. This is in no way belittling Tun Dr Mahathir as I still maintain my highest respect towards him, but he has made decisions in the past which contradicts with his current ways. His heart seems to be pure but his actions are stirring mixed emotions even to his loyal supporters. It's either Tun makes a full blown come back or back out as he promised. Fire and fire creates more fire..maybe it's time Tun added some water to do some damage control. No matter what, Tun is still a national hero.
    p/s: He kicked Anuar..and placed his trust in Badawi instead. The question was and still is..what made Badawi special? Hmmmm...enlighten me.

  10. Anonymous9:03 pm

    You guys must all be jokers. The Mamak tongkang is the biggest conman in the world. Dont you guys get tired with the great pretenders' childish antics. At least Pak Non has the balls to speak his mind. Old Fart comitted the biggest sins when he was in power, cultivated and progumalated money politics, championed dictorarian rule, conducted non democratic elections ... bla-bla-bla.

    Get real.

    Oopps- Melayu mudah lupa.

  11. Anonymous9:32 pm

    To anonymous..
    Name me a politician who is clean? Name me a goverment without any scandals? Name me a country without any problems? I rest my case.

  12. Anonymous10:20 pm

    How come it's OK to demonise the Prime Minister but not OK to do the same to a sore loser in Kubang Pasu? The Tun thinks the country belongs to him and that only he is right. He should act his age and shut up.

  13. Anonymous10:36 pm

    Call me naive, but I had fond hopes that the debate here would be on the merits or otherwise of Zainon's column. Unfortunately, the racist comments show that after nearly half a century of independence, we're sliding back, not going forward as a nation.

  14. Anonymous10:42 pm

    Dear all,
    As always its refreshing to read the various comments made on the state of the nation today.
    To be fair, all leaders will have their fair share of supporters and detractors - some committing the sin of pedestalising those they hold dear beyond the pale of reason. Such is the way of politics and football!
    But to think that a respectable journalist like Pak Zainon authoring such a poor piece of diatribe is mind boggling!
    Tun has made many mistakes - just as any leader before him and probably, after; but the way in which this continuing attempt to discredit the man in the most facetious fashion, is at best pathetic.
    Now, what disturbs me even more is the possibility that the majority of readers out there are actually swayed by what's being written! Then bros, we are truly in trouble.
    And by the way, yep, by golly one should criticise all leaders, current and otherwise, as a matter of principle.
    But the kind of blatant nonsense which passes of today as 'criticism'.... c'mon!!!!!

  15. Anonymous10:51 pm

    Why does it matter whether the editors at the NST, or for that matter any other paper, are Malay or Indian? Why does it so rile people that 'Indians ruled magnifently' at the NST? Was Rocky himself not a senior editor at the NST? If anyone has anything constructive to say about Zainon's column, then do so, but to make personal comments about the man, and that too to denigrate him for his relations to Indian and knowledge of Tamil, belies a hollow vendetta driven by what I suspect are personal frustrations for never being able to rise to his ranks.

  16. Anonymous10:51 pm

    Oh, and another thing, if indeed the former premier is suffering from an ailing intellect, then surely it would have revealed itself by now. But perhaps Pak Zainon meant that it is the public (and everyone else) that must be protected from the truth of the matter more so than Tun himself.
    ps- Ironic isn't it that when the only person who seems to be consistent and rational about some of the issues we face as a nation, is now labelled as incapable of thinking clearly! Heh

  17. Anonymous11:04 pm


    I like your views..Yes, the Tun made many mistakes...He admitted it himself many times, publicly even at UMNO general assemblies..

    The trouble with your current PM is...
    Dia cakap tak serupa bikin! What do you call a person who in one breath says he will fight corruption and at the same time allows his son to participate in Government tenders?
    (I gave him the benefit of the doubt that the Petronas, TNB etc tenders were properly conducted).

    BTW, being a banker that I am, since he says his son has done no wrong in participating in government (or GLCs)contracts, I, as a citizen of Malaysia (like his son is), demand that he should start the process of repealing Sec. 62(1) of the Banking and Financial Institutions Act 1989(BAFIA to enable me to grant banking facilities to my parents, my spouse and my children who are running viably successful businesses!


  18. Anonymous11:10 pm

    what a parrot...

  19. Anonymous11:29 pm

    Nobody is saying that the Tun has not made any mistakes in his time. But whatever shortcoming is surely negated by what he has done to this country.
    His major weakness is that he is not too good a judge of character. He is too trusting on people whom he thinks can deliver. It would be alright if these are people of integrity. Problem is some of those whom he trusted are dishonest and took advantage of the trust for their personal interests.
    Just look at the likes of Mohd Abdullah Ang, Eric Chia, Tajuddin Ramli even Musa Hitam and Anwar Ibrahim and Tengku Mahleel.
    The most recent example is of course Pak Lah, whom TDM trusted would finish what he had not been able to complete when he stepped down. Unfortunatelay Pak Lah has compromised that trust when he listens too much to his SIL who is out to demonise TDM.
    TDM should have seen the writing on the wall when KJ invited a journalist from the Economist to be here to write articles in praise of Pak Lah six month or so before TDM stepped down; instead of just praising Pak Lah the Ecopnomist was scatching on TDM. Dr Mahathir knew this only after the article came out and even complained to Pak Lah but nothing happened.
    So when Pak Lah took over as PM, the effort at demonising TDM became a campaign. And Zainon is part of that process.
    It is true as commented by Malay contractor and others, I also almost puked when I read Zainon's piece. I would not have expected that kind of venom from a so-called veteran journalist worth his salt.
    He has sold his soul just so that he can get a datukship. I really pity this Zainon.
    I heard that he has even said in front of Pak Lah at one of the functions for the editors, that he is the only Editor not having a datukship. Can you image such blatant unshameful remark. You will not expect this kind of remarks from a true Malay.
    Hanya mereka yang tidak bermaruah saja gamak mengeluarkan kata-kata yang dia sudah patut menerima gelaran datuk.
    How low can one stoop. I am sure the likes of Kali and Brendan - the S'pore lickers - will be proud of this Malay yang telah lama lupa daratan.
    Ahmad Isa

  20. tambourine man, touche.

    also, to say that i concur with you from the opening line. i have no problem with zainon's knowledge of a third language; i have a problem with his article that signals his joining the kali-guna-brendan bandwagon. i have covered dr m when he was the pm quite a few times with zainon. he had never written anything against dr m. he had never spoken ill of the man.

    to anon, i am not trying to tread racial lines here. but that zainon is the first malay editor to have joined kali & gang in trying to deconstruct our ex pm and his legacy IS a fact.

    you couldnt miss it, really, as there are just so few malay editors left in the english-language mainstream papers.

  21. Anonymous said...
    At least Pak Non has the balls to speak his mind.

    Yang menghairankan, kenapa tiba2 Zainon ada teloq? Did he have any before?

  22. dudes...seriously...the comments are more slanting towards racism. Tamil is a great language, the cultural milestone/ evolution of the Tamil people. There is nothing political to it. HEnce, being friends with Tamils doesnt bring any enhancements towards peoples political ambition. If they converse in Tamil, that means they know a new language. Being friends with Indians and Tamil doesnt make them a lesser Malay or Chinese. Your commenters rocky bru sir are more hyped up in the concoction of racism rather than the real issue. Pity.

  23. Anonymous5:02 pm

    ghost particle, you should have just ignored those who used the racial card on this blog. see how you've fallen for the trap. instead of commenting on the issue, you have allowed yourself to be sidetracked by the racial comments made by some. there are many here who have made very sensible comments about what pak non has written. unfortunately, you are not one of them.
    i have one thing to say to pak non. be critical of pak lah first if you want to be critical. mahathir should be no 22 on your list.
    otherwise, stick to your multi-racial what they say column. you would be more constructive that way and you would remain honourable as a journalist.

  24. [I have deleted the last line of this comment. I hope Pujangga understands. Thank you. - Rocky]

    Pujangga has left a new comment on your post "THE MALAY KALI, BRENDAN & GUNA":


    I don't think a man of your limited resources is in a position to make such remarks about Tun Dr Mahathir, the man who made Malaysia what it is today.

    I have one question for you, Zainon: "where were you keeping your balls between 1981 and 2003? xx xxxx xxxxxxxx?

  25. Anonymous5:32 pm

    define journalist and journalism?
    ethics and beliefs?
    right and wrong?
    its become so obvious that in today's world - in malaysia especially - that it has become a cari makan world. forget about loyalty, principles etc. janji boleh buat duit.
    many of today's top journalists choose to play this game which is why u see them as lalang with any new administration that comes into power.
    cari makan i can still accept but janganlah kita lupa daratan.

  26. Anonymous6:06 pm

    come on guys....the discussion was going on well until the racism card was thrown on the table. When can we discuss things of import without some diseased-minded racist throwing their racism trump card. It is really sad.We all enjoy a dig now an again, but not digs at race or religion. I always say the more we keep race and religion out of blogs, the better....discuss race and religion OPENLY and EYE-BALL TO EYEBALL. That should take guts. Do it at open public forums....not in cyberspace where one tends to be cowardly brave.

  27. Anonymous9:33 pm

    I think we can summarize all of the above comments by saying: The mainstream media is just trying to make Badawi look good, by making Mahathir look bad. I'm sure there is a term in logic to describe this line of argument or posturing. Anyone know what that term is?

  28. Anonymous9:40 pm

    anon said:
    I think we can summarize all of the above comments by saying: The mainstream media is just trying to make Badawi look good, by making Mahathir look bad.
    i think that's close but not it. i believe they are trying to make Badawi look good AND make Mahathir look bad, not BY making Mahathir look bad.
    guys like Zainon are a dime a dozen in this Abdullah era.

  29. Anonymous8:33 am

    hey anonymous who called Tun dr Mahathir mamak tongkang...

    you must hate that old man. you sound like someone i know. but i wouldnt want to be racist and call you a pathetic pengkhianat p-th-n.

    if Tun, that old fart, did all those terrible things. Your master is doing worse.

  30. Boleh tu dah tak payah sebut. Yang jelasnya Zainon harap sangat nak balik ke NST kut. Dulu, Dato´ Rejal dibawa masuk dari Sun. Sekarang, Zainon ingat dia ada peluang kut. Dia tahu kut, Brendan tak lama lagi nak cabut. Kalau dia masuk balik kita tak tau lah apa nak jadi dengana Dato´ Hishamuddin Aun. Boleh ke dia handle Zainon yang lebih tinggi kelulusan dan lebih bijak, lebih berpengalaman dan semuanya lebih lah. Dulu masa di NST dia jadi tutor kat US university. Pada Zainon, dia boleh cekak semua orang kat NST tu lah. Mungkin Dato´ Hishamuddin akan dibawa keluar sekali oleh Dato´ Kalimullah kut, sebab nama Hishamuddin pun dah lekat dengan team YDP (Yang Disalah Pilih -meminjam kata-kata peforum KMU). Zainon dulu, Dato´ Kadir Jasin pun dia lawan, ini kan pula Dato´ Hisham-kacang. Kalau macam tu, Zainon terus pergi jadi GEIC lah kut. Untuk Dato´ Hishamudddin, kalau tak mahu Zainon masuk, you kena blok cepat-cepatlah. Takkan tak boleh buat buat kut.

  31. Anonymous3:42 pm

    we all know what kind of person pak non is.

    as a journalist, he WAS not bad. He wrote pretty decently. readable. his english, though not terrific, was ok. a little "melayu melarat" (no racism intended. more a literary/linguistic element here).

    but. he brooks no criticism. he would never give encouragement to anyone he thinks would outshine him. in short, anyone he thinks is better than him in his area of specialisation.
    pak non believes himself to be an expert in international politics and, of course, malaysian politics.

    and, yes. he also knows that in the newspaper world, nothing is permanent. and nothing is impossible.
    so, of course, he thinks he has a chance at returning to NST as GE..or better GEIC. and a datukship thrown in.

    my last word: i have lost my respect for you, Pak Non.

  32. Anonymous3:17 am

    i knew zainon in nst. he was then doing the dirty job for the powers that be. as a writer, just average. as a person ... nobody wanted to get near him. a cynical man. be that as it may, i think we shouldnt demonise him just because of the article in the sun. he has every right to articulate his views. let him live with his views. but at the end of the day, i suspect he is eyeing the ultimate prize - to go back to the nst as the head honcho. want to take a bet, anyone?

  33. Anonymous8:09 am

    pak non,

    aah...he is one who has perfected the art of backstabbing.

    always so sweet in front of you...


  34. Anonymous8:12 am


    isnt zainon your predecessor i.e -- national press club president?

    charley chee

  35. yes, charley chee, zainon was president of the national press club for three two-year terms before i took over in 2003.

    before him, it was p.c. shivadas, who recently left nstp as a director.

  36. Anonymous12:16 pm

    If Datuk Dollah Badawi wants a Malay who can bodek him and be a spindoctor to replace Kali & gang, Pak Non fits the bill & is just the right candidate to lead the New Singapork Times (NST).


  37. Anonymous12:18 pm

    Oops I mean the New Singapore Times (NST).


  38. Anonymous9:55 pm

    I think Zainoon wants to make a come back to NSTP. We hope Dato Hisham will stop him from coming back. You tell Kali lah that Pak Noon is nothing as compared to yourself. Zainon has never cover sports. Thats the main criteria to take charge NSTP.

  39. Anonymous8:56 am

    zainon, pse stop writing because you can't write.

  40. Anonymous11:50 am

    When Zainon was the NST features editor in the late 80s, we used to make a bet whenever he came to the features room carrying his briefcase. Apa gaknya dia jual hari ini. Could it be curry puffs? Dodol?

    He usually stopped by at the Women's Desk where Junita Johari, Murharyani & Aishah Ali were seated & opened his brief case.

    And lo & behold, there were packets & packets of curry puffs cramped in his brief case.

    Yup he was the only editor who would sell his wife’s home-made curry puffs & what-you-have to the staff, mainly to the feature writers in the newsroom.

    Maybe Pak Non should stick to selling curry puffs, instead of writing, because they weren't too bad.

  41. Some of you guys really put the brotherhood of Journalist to shame.

  42. Anonymous5:47 am

    En Bakar, Pehal nak bawak-bawak cerita Pak Non masa dulu-dulu? Shows that he rose up and out of his humble beginnings to be someone that a lot of people respects (not anyone here though i see). Your comments are more like someone with low self-esteem. Tell me truly and with all due respect, who the hell are you in this world?