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.
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