Thursday, August 02, 2007

Ah, Amir Muhammad!

NST tells controversial writer to end column - again!
The first time Amir Muhammad lost his column in the NST was in 1999, at the height of Reformasi, when he was just 28, and not too long before the general election. So when an editor go a call over a lunch hosted by the US Embassy earlier today that Amir had written his last column in the NST ["The Elephant" and the wins], he remarked: "Elections must be very near."

After lunch I called up Amir and he confirmed the news. He said he was not told why they wanted him to stop writing. "I knew why I had to stop the last time but this time around, I don't know the reason," he said.

I checked with friends at NST. It seems that someone at the top decided that the NST would be relying on staff writers and that's why Amir's column had to end. Sounds like a feeble excuse to me but there you are. I suppose Khairy Jamaluddin has been told to take a hike, too. Or is he still writing for NST?

I am sure we'll see the byline Amir Muhammad in another daily soon. Till then, go check out his blog, Writing by Amir.


  1. Anonymous8:40 pm

    Frankly, Rock, NST lost its credibility after you were mugged, but I thought Amir Mohammad gave NST readers some hope. But now all hope is lost. With Hishamuddin Ann at the helm what can NST look forward to. Rock, pse pray for the paper.

  2. Anonymous11:13 pm

    "I suppose Khairy Jamaluddin has been told to take a hike, too. Or is he still writing for NST?"

    err... i think that moronic upstart, who can't write for nuts (have you guys seen or read his so-called "column".. even monkeys, who are actually clever animals, would piss on him and the sorry shit he writes), is probably considered staff by current NST management.

  3. Anonymous1:04 am


    We'll see if Hardev Kaur, John Teo, Brian Yap, Yasmin Ahmad, some retired general who writes on the weekend I think, some Tengku Zafrul who is CEO for Tune Money, the VC for USM, Datuk Johan Jaffar, Kalimullah (who is a board member), and a few others non-editorial staff will be allowed to continue to write.

    If these guys were to continue writing, then obviously NST don't like Amir or his sense of humour, parody, etc., then say so, lah.

    This is the problem with NST, it can never handle the truth.


  4. Anonymous1:22 am

    Honestly, I think if more good journalists leaves the NST, it will be a boon for Malaysia. Don't get me wrong; there will be lesser and lesser readers. Hence, more spins will go unread. Ultimately, there will be lesser revenue. Sad, but it may be the only way to turn the tide of lies and deception that's tearing - literally - this beautiful country.

    By the way, I may use the name Amir but not THE Amir. Bro Rocky would be able to confirm it. - Amir

  5. Anonymous4:22 am

    I was told by a Dr Yusof that his letters to the Editor (NST) never get published but lo and behold - he sees the issues he raises and his arguments being used by their columnists without any acknowledgement.

    I was told by a highly respected member of society who's trying to right its wrongs, that his column is being ended because it is viewed as being too critical.

    Amir has written some lovely and funny satire but I often wondered why he was given a whole page. Perhaps he has used up his allocation. Perhaps they want to give other good young writers a chance. He shouldn't be complaining!

    But in the NST letters page the same names appear regularly almost as if they have been commissioned or planted to write what they do.
    Before it was Bulbir Singh and now its Victor Chin or Hamdan Ibrahim. And of course Lee Lam Thye!

  6. Yes. Of course.

    You are not THE Amir.

  7. I know (not personally) Amir when he was writing for the NST way way back in ....(yeah, that long ago). I think he must have still been a schoolboy. I thought he was smart. obviously he read a lot. mature for his age.
    now he is a film-maker. haven't quite followed his work. But he is among Malaysia's brightest.
    The NST seems to be something like some US papers of yore. But those newspapers had editors who were fearless, who fought an oppressive government whose leaders were scared of their own shadow when there was none to begin with.
    At least, we can read his blog.

  8. Anonymous10:01 am

    Dear Rocky,

    What a shame. I follow his column every week.

  9. A company should keep good talents
    It is a folly to let these people go
    What is the top management thinking?
    In any organization critics should allow to bloom
    This is called thinking out of the box

    NST is slowly dying
    The cancerous growth has hit the belly
    In time the virus will paralyze
    The whole spectrum of its organization

    Every time there is a new PM
    Something brewing in NST
    Running by people close to the ruling elite
    Discarded the opposition
    Pulling in the cronies

    A company will grow
    When the inner circle stays together
    As we are told many times
    ‘Unity is strength’
    When the cracks appear
    In time the water will seep through
    Soiled the minds and hands
    The dirty marks stay
    Until a new paint…………..

    A company must accept opposite view
    In order to survive and flourish
    A company can’t make money
    Staff by ‘yes’ people all the time

    A company must have devil advocate
    Keep the track in good oily condition
    Otherwise in the long run
    The hazy clouds in its balance sheet

  10. Anonymous10:42 am

    Saudara Rocky,

    NST definitely needs to change some of its columnists. At least these people should be 'ousted' from the columnists category:

    1. K.P.Waran (he writes or blabs?)

    2. Khairy Jamaluddin (oh! come on NST!)

    3. Panglima Sauk (boring! boring!)

    4. John Teo (another boring writer)

    5. Hardev Kaur (sorry dev, you are a total bore)

    6. USM's Vice-chancellor (seemingly intelligent writer, but no can do)

    7. Syed Nadzri (sorry group editor but you don't write well, sorry again).

    Saudara, NST should retain Amirmu besides Zainul. One for his satire and another for his good English and clarity of writing.

    Anyway, talking about NST, probably you should visit their bureau offices.

    1. old infrastructure, broken chairs, leaking air-conds, disorganised.

    2. bureau reporters are oftentimes clueless about what their bosses want - whether to spin or not to spin.

    Anyway, you had your time in the NSTP group and you should know better about the operational side of the editorial desk.

  11. Sdr Rocky's Bru,

    If I remember correctly, Amir stop voluntarily in 1999. He stopped after we edited one of his articles. We edited and published that controversial article with his knowledge.

    As a rule, we (Boon, Pak Non, Ahmad A Talib and I) would inform regular contributors if we had to edit their articles.

    Most had no problem with us editing but others were not so pleased. A few opted to stop writing.

    During my time, we had not only Amir. We had Mazlan Nordin, Karim Raslan, Askiah Adam, Farish A Noor, Salleh Ben Joned and several others writing for us.

    Askiah's 1999 article criticising the Umno no-contest decision landade me in a huge trouble. In a way it was the beginning of an end for me. I stood by her article.

    Thank you.

  12. Rocky!

    AmirM Kudsia Kahar and my daughter both wrote for the Young Times a nice column for teens in the NST during the Enlightment era of the NST!
    All are good writers, AmirM is a successful young man in his own rights and my daughter is now doing her PhD somewhere in Canada! Good for people like them utilising they grey matter to the fullest.
    I once told my wife when will the NST hotshots ever find out that AmirM was writing "subversive" columns with deep analogy and meaning and the rulng elite did not even know about it, so finally somene from the outside has to tell the NST honchos "did you know what AmirM was alluding to in his column?" thus ended his brilliant career as a refreshing writer who truly writes in real English, not "Indian" or "Malay" English like some over rated in house columnist at the NST!
    Anyway AmirM, the Edge will appreciate you more good luck!

  13. Anonymous11:24 am

    Ahhhhh... Amir, with one Muhammad in his name!

    That's better! Much better!

  14. OFF, incisively very perceptive that "commissioned" part.
    Datuk Kadir, I really miss Salleh Ben Joned!

  15. I've stopped reading NST. It's not worth it, not even for the masochistic entertainment.

    By the way, I keep running into you, Rocky! I saw you in Basil, Bangsar Village on 07/07/07 and again today at McDonald's Equine Park.

  16. Anonymous4:23 pm


    1. censorship replaced with "edit their articles "

    2. constructive dismissal replaced with "A few opted to stop writing"

    Wow, no wonder he's a scribe, and I'm just a scriber!

  17. Anonymous4:27 pm

    you guys still read NST?
    NST died the day they went Pro-BN.

  18. Anonymous5:47 am

    Yes Kadir Jasin - you had some good people during your time and they wrote excellent stuff covering a wide spectrum of subjects.

    The present crop, except for a few, are lifeless and the issues they write on are mainly societal woes. Perhaps the socio-economic/political climate is not conducive to producing creativity in writing. Perhaps the people that are at the helm of NST do not have the capacity or guts to think beyond the obvious.

    Under Abdullah Ahmad NST was exciting and vibrant too. We looked forward to his columns/ideas - terribly biased but at least they were bold and invited much thought.

    Are newspapers a reflection of the type and calibre of the political leadership? I think so!

    An indepth study or a PhD on this will be most apt. But it must be done in an overseas university!

  19. Anonymous1:13 pm

    For a govt bulletin, NST is a good read. It has many stories and spins, some of which serve the interests of individuals in the nstp, and not necessarily editorial only. People like KP Waran and Kathiresan write stuff without much intellect - at least KP Waran has done some news stuff. but even then he writes like a snake that he is. And Kathiresan wants to be potrayed as a priest, preaching and giving sermons! Ayo friends, enough lah. The newspaper has betrayed the very reason why it was established by Tun Razak, ie, to give the Malays a voice in the English speaking community. There are enough spineless characters in the NSTP today to lull the management (and BN Govt) into a state of false confidence.

    Amir? Why he agreed to return to write for the BN Bulletin in the first place is a mystery!

  20. Anonymous8:01 am

    Datuk Kadir

    I am amused by your comments about standing by your writers during your time and it landed you in trouble. How about what you did to the former deputy premier anwar ibrahim. your continued works to embarrased him day in and out thru the newspaper you headed at that time is the worst ever by an editor in the history of Malaysian journalism. It situation was so clear between right and wrong...just like between white and black...HAVE YOU NO you are kicked out seems to keen to comment on writing and standing by people >>POOODAH.

  21. Actually, the main difference between 1999 and 2007 is that in '99 I received a letter telling me to stop, while in '07 I received a phone-call instead.

    Ah, no biggie. Hope to see you all at my book launch !

  22. Anonymous9:09 am

    So DatuK , you also spin ahhh.... in this blog, in this siber space..... it reminds me of a song " love story "

  23. Anonymous9:16 am

    It took me a while to search on the net, only your site open up the fully details, bookmarked and thanks again.

    - Kris