Zam, Kadir, Johan and power struggles
Zainuddin Maidin has been a longtime friend of Mahathir Mohamad, a fellow Kedahan, and both share conservative views on Malay and Muslim rights.
Zam’s journalism career began in 1951 as a “stringer” (part-timer) for Utusan in Alor Star, where Mahathir had his clinic. After 10 years as a stringer, he was appointed Utusan staff reporter and rose through the ranks, his career coinciding with Mahathir’s own rise, becoming chief editor in 1982.
Utusan Malaysia, owned outright by Umno, was the leading Malaysian newspaper at the time and known for its conservative stance on Malay rights and took provocative positions on non-Malay affairs.
Zam frequently wrote provocative pieces using the Awang Selamat pseudonym, which continues to champion Malay and Muslim supremacy in Malaysian affairs.
Zam and Kadir Jasin
He was a fierce rival of the New Straits Times and of Berita Harian, then under the editorship of A Kadir Jasin, who was close to Mahathir as well as Daim Zainuddin with whom Kadir had struck up a relationship while a reporter with Business Times.
Kadir was to rise to chief editorship of NST and BH, and even at one time part-owner of New Straits Times Press in a “management buyout” engineered by Anwar Ibrahim’s associates through MRCB. Ownership of NSTP has changed hands through Umno proxies many times. It is currently owned by Media Prima.
Kadir is now boss of magazine publisher Berita Publishing, which was spun off to him for RM1 for his departure from the NST group.
Zam, Johan Jaffar and the Anwar-Mahathir power struggle
In 1992, after rising through the ranks of Utusan to become chief editor, Zam was “kicked upstairs” to become editorial adviser after Anwar Ibrahim had knocked out Ghafar Baba to become deputy prime minister to Mahathir Mohamad.
Anwar ally Johan Jaffar was brought in from Dewan Bahasa as the first outsider to be made Utusan editor, replacing Zam.
Zam becomes a politician, under Mahathir
After Anwar was sacked by Mahathir, Johan in turn was ousted in 1998. Zam, then in a corporate position, moved up to become deputy chairman of Utusan, and was appointed a senator by Mahathir.
He became parliamentary secretary to the Information Minister in 2001, and deputy information minister in 2002 under Mahathir. In the general election of 2004, after Mahathir stepped down, Zam was elected as MP for Merbok, Kedah.
Two years later Abdullah Badawi, then prime minister, appointed him minister of information — in which capacity he attained notoriety for displaying a poor command of English while interviewed by Al Jazeera television after the brutal police action against a public rally by the Hindraf movement.
Zam was defeated in the 2008 elections by Johari Abdul of Pakatan Rakyat.
Johan’s comeback under Najib
Johan spent some years in the wilderness, and after Abdullah Badawi’s enforced retirement from politics, Johan became chairman of New Straits Times Press, and later chairman of Media Prima, where he remains. Media Prima owns TV3 and all other commercial television stations, as well as the New Straits Times, Berita Harian and its stablemate Harian Metro.
Last week TV3 was the target of criticism by Daim Zainuddin in a statement defending himself against attacks on him and his purported billions stashed away overseas. Daim said: “TV3 which would not give two minutes of air time to Pakatan, has aired the PKR press conference no less than three times. The NST and Utusan have also carried these news.”