KUALA LUMPUR: Former information minister Zainuddin Maidin thinks the transition of power in Umno during Mahathir Mohamad’s time would have been smooth had Anwar Ibrahim never joined the party.
Anwar, who was then heading the student movement and the Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia, was brought into Umno in the early seventies by then prime minister Mahathir.
He adds that Mahathir had felt then that if he did not bring Anwar into the Cabinet, PAS would have replaced Umno as the ruling party.
Likewise, Zainuddin says, he had reservations about Daim Zainuddin being Finance Minister.
He says in his latest blog posting that he had refused to support both Anwar and Daim.
Zainuddin, taking his cue from ‘Frankly Speaking’ penned by former deputy prime minister Musa Hitam, says this in connection with Musa’s resignation as DPM in the mid-80s after Mahathir personally accused his deputy of plotting to overthrow him.
He says Musa was a victim of “falsehoods” spread by certain Umno leaders at that time. He names them as Anwar, Daim, and Sanusi Junid, who Musa himself dubbed AIDS.
“It was AIDS that led to Musa quitting the Cabinet,” he alleges.
Zainuddin says Mahathir subsequently directed the mainstream media to stop referring to his administration as the 2M Administration – Mahathir, Musa – as it had always been one headed by him, Mahathir Mohamad.
“2M implied that Mahathir and Musa were close,” says Zainuddin, a former Editor in Chief of the Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia.
“Daim was also responsible in many ways for brave, drastic, dynamic and radical changes to bring Malays into industry and commerce.”
AIDS, adds Zainuddin, had a hidden agenda with Daim as the ‘Kingmaker’ who accommodated Anwar’s and Sanusi’s ambitions of being prime minister.
“Sanusi, in fact, complained to Mahathir that I edited pictures which had him standing next to the Prime Minister.”
“Sanusi also felt that I was not giving him enough coverage in Utusan Malaysia.’
Mahathir himself, says Zainuddin, was not happy with him until he realised “who was the real Anwar”.
After the split in the Umno camp between Mahathir and Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, Sanusi was increasingly isolated and Anwar and Daim were increasingly close to Mahathir. Sanusi was sent off to Kedah to be Menteri Besar.
“Even earlier, before the split, many important projects and tasks were handed to Anwar and Daim. Musa and Razaleigh were increasingly marginalised in the administration.”
On a related matter, Zainuddin says then Berita Harian Editor Ahmad Sebi would always leave the weekly meeting editors had with Musa early.
“Ahmad, by leaving the meetings early, didn’t respect Musa’s position as Deputy Prime Minister.”
He says it was Ahmad who reported to Anwar and Daim on the content of the meetings that Musa had with the editors.
“Among others, he reported that Musa referred to Mahathir as ‘bomoh’ during the meetings.”
Musa had said this in jest, he says in his blog.