Like daughter, like father

Mahathir’s blog a hit with Malaysians

‘Now I’m glad I have my blog. At least I can say something.’ TUN DR MAHATHIR

By Reme Ahmad, The Straits Times

TWO million hits in less than two months.

The blog of former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has become the fastest-rising new website in Malaysia, with many of his postings attracting hundreds of comments.

But not all who visit http://www.chedet.com are his fans. Some also attack his views and his 22-year rule as prime minister.

Still, the 82-year old politician is happy with his blog because he said it has allowed him to bypass the mainstream media, which he claimed has ignored him.

‘Now I’m glad I have my blog. At least I can say something,’ Malaysiakini quoted Dr Mahathir as saying at a press conference on Thursday.

He was also blase about the criticisms hurled at him on the blog.

‘I don’t seem to be unpopular when I meet people. If you care to read my blog, so many people make comments. Some were adverse comments, but the majority are quite supportive of what I said.’

Top blogger Ahirudin Attan said Dr Mahathir remains very popular and the move by the media to restrict his views has ‘forced people to read his blog and find out his side of the story’.

The most popular political websites are Malaysia Today run by controversial blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin, online newspaper Malaysiakini and followed by chedet.com, bloggers say.

Dr Mahathir launched his blog on May 1.

The blog’s moniker is derived from his old pen-name when he was a columnist with Utusan Malaysia newspaper in the 1970s. ‘Che Det’ is a shortened version of Encik Mahatdet, as he is known in his home state of Kedah.

Dr Mahathir’s blog received one million hits just before the end of its first month last month. Under a posting, The Millionaire Club, he wrote: ‘It is quite an experience to be a blogger even though I am only a month old.’

He also said that much as he saw the importance of the Internet as prime minister, ‘I did not envisage that I would one day be a blogger’.

As of yesterday, he has posted 43 entries in English and Bahasa Malaysia, most of them attacks on Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi and the government.

The blog’s biggest hiccup occurred last week when it was locked out by website operator Bloggers.com for being a ‘suspected spam blog’, which apparently caused some of the earlier postings to be lost.

Commentators on his blog have ranged from hero worshippers to strident critics.

One Razak Rahim wrote: ‘You’re my idol and my hero. I put your photo at my office and imitate your thinking style. Since then, I got promoted twice and (achieved) success in my life.’

Conversely, an anonymous reader, said: ‘Please admit that you were the main cause of destroying the judiciary. Because of you, now I am afraid to go to court, even to claim back something that legally belongs to me because my opponent knows the right people at the judiciary.’

Marina, too, offers advice to government

IT IS not just the rakyat or people who need to tighten their belts in these inflationary times.

The government should too, the daughter of former premier Mahathir Mohamad has suggested.

Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir has listed 15 ways for the Malaysian government to do so, to ‘share the burden’ with the public, in a newspaper column entitled ‘You Walk The Talk First’.

In her column in The Star last week, she wrote: ‘It is easier said than done since most people were having it difficult even before the hikes. The government must first set an example by doing things it should have done long ago.’

The bi-weekly column, Musings, is widely read because she is often a sharp critic of government policy, even when her father was premier. A blog she started years ago, rantingsbymm.blogspot.com, also has avid followers.

Ms Marina, 51, said ministers must take public transport more often.

‘Once a week (or more), have ministers use public transport so they know what everyone else has to suffer. This might provide them with the incentive to improve it.’

And they should weekly ‘go to a market to buy food for their families with instructions to not spend more than RM100’. RM100 is equivalent to about S$42.

A popular feature of big official meetings is the lavish spread of cakes and briyani rice, which she said should no longer be offered.

For senior ministers, she had this to say: ‘Stop having the full complement of police escorts to cut down on petrol costs. If they need to be somewhere by a certain time, start earlier like the rest of us.’

And she revealed a little- known secret about how civil servants and politicians would fly business class although they are not entitled to do so.

They should really be travelling at the back of the plane ‘and not buying full-fare economy class tickets that allow them to be upgraded to Business Class’.

Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi said two weeks ago that the government would cut back on its activities to save RM2 billion a year.

These included limiting overseas travel for all officials and stopping the practice of holding meetings in hotels.

Ms Marina made other recommendations that should resonate with many people.

One is to have a public address (PA) system used by those who often suffer from tardy frontline service.

‘Have PA systems that shout out the name of the officers who have to serve people… so that (they) don’t have to keep coming back just because the officer was out having coffee,’ she wrote in the column in The Star.

Another gem: ‘Newspapers should save paper by reporting real news rather than non-news that they carry, particularly nonsensical utterances by politicians.’

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