The top newsmakers of 2018


Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. -AFP

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. -AFP

“Who should be the ANN person of the year?” a friend from Asian News Network (ANN) asked me.

ANN is an alliance of 24 Asian news organisations in 20 countries including The Star, The Straits Times (Singapore), The Jakarta Post, The Korea Herald, China Daily and Kathmandu Post.

My first thought was Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Why? He is the ultimate comeback kid.

At 93 years old, he is back as Malaysia’s Prime Minister for the second time. He is the oldest elected leader in the world. Simply amazing.

I saw some of the nominations from ANN editors from other countries. They were equally amazing.

Just look at the two who made the cut for the final round:

> The Women of India’s #MeToo movement

“In a country noted for its abuse and violence towards women, the #MeToo movement has sparked necessary conversation and is changing norms,” wrote Quinn Libson of ANN.

> Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo

“The two Reuters reporters uncovered a massacre in Myanmar and were jailed for reporting the truth,” wrote Cod Satrusayang, the managing editor of ANN.

The runner-up is – drum roll – Dr Mahathir.

“The nonagenarian’s stunning victory changed the landscape of Mal­aysian politics and was a triumph for democracy in a region experiencing its decline,” wrote Libson.

Dr Mahathir lost by one vote to South Korea president Moon Jae-in.

According to Satrusayang, Moon was picked as ANN Person of the Year for:

> Restarting talks with North Korea when Donald Trump was antagonising the hermit kingdom;

> Insisting on South Korea’s independence to approach North Korea;

> If there were no Moon-Kim Jong-un meeting, there would have been no Trump-Kim meeting; and

> Dialling back the world’s potentially most dangerous conflict zone

The ANN Person of the Year list made me think of who the top 10 newsmakers in Malaysia are.

Dr Mahathir is a given. His statements – at many times sarcastic and witty – are always newsworthy.

For instance, when asked last week about PKR’s Rafizi Ramli’s poll results, alluding that the Pakatan Harapan government’s approval rating had taken a dip, he said: “Rafizi knows what will happen. His prediction on GE14 was very accurate.”

(Before GE14, Rafizi’s Invoke had wrongly predicted that PAS would lose every seat it contested. Invoke got it wrong – PAS won 18 MP seats and 90 state seats.)

Here are the other newsmakers on my top 10 list:

2) Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak

Najib led Umno and Barisan Nas­ional in its historic loss in GE14. He was also the first former Malay­sian prime minister to be charged with corruption. He is also making news for trolling the Pakatan government.

3) Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim

Anwar is also a comeback kid. He is back as MP after winning the Port Dickson by-election. He won uncontested as president of PKR, a party he formed 20 years ago.

Now, he is prime minister-designate. Technically, barring any political intrigue, he is a heartbeat away from becoming the prime minister.

Not bad for a politician who was sacked as deputy prime minister and Umno deputy president by Dr Mahathir in 1998.

4) Datuk Lee Chong Wei

It was a big shock for Malaysians to learn that the 36-year-old badminton star was fighting the toughest battle of his life – early stage nose cancer.

5) Muhammad Adib Mohd Kas­sim

It was an unnecessary death for the 24-year-old firefighter, who suffered severe injuries in a fire-fighting operation during the riot at Sri Maha Mariamman Temple in Subang Jaya. Up till now, there has been no official explanation on how he sustained the injuries.

6) Pastor Raymond Koh, Perlis activist Amri Che Mat, Pastor Jos­hua Hilmi and his wife Ruth Hilmi

They disappeared last year and are still unaccounted for.

7) Khairy Jamaluddin, Nurul Izzah Anwar and Rafizi Ramli

When Rembau MP Khairy, Perma­tang Pauh MP Nurul Izzah and former Pandan MP Rafizi go for lunch in Bangsar, it is hot news.

Their lunch date also – as Rafizi sarcastically tweeted in response to Bukit Gelugor MP Ramkarpal Singh calling the meeting a wayang (drama) – caused the sharp increase in the prices of eggs.

8) Edi Rejang

A video clip of Mohamad Edi Mohamad Riyars, also known as Edi Rejang, berating a beer promoter at the non-halal section of a supermarket in Kuala Lumpur went viral.

Edi rejang-ed the promoter for promoting beer to “anyone” and criticised her for speaking in English as this was “Bumi Melayu”.

He later apologised, saying he was not racist as he sent his kid to a Chin­ese school and had many Chinese friends.

9) Saro Ai

News that the Japanese former porn actress was expecting her first child was one of the hottest news stories on The Star Online. It seems the 35-year-old has many fans in Malaysia. I do wonder why.

10) Nur Sajat

Many are fascinated with the cosmetics entrepreneur’s sexual identity. Is Nur Sajat actually Muhammad Sajjad Kamaruzzaman?

A photocopy of the 33-year-old sex bomb’s alleged identity card with a male name became trending news.

Who will be in the newsmakers in Malaysia for 2019?

Dr Mahathir and Anwar.

Next year might see the repeat of the biggest news in 1998.

philip golingai , mahathir mohamad