Robert Kuok, fake news and Umno politics

Opinion  |  P Gunasegaram
Published:  |  Modified:

QUESTION TIME | The ongoing brouhaha over Robert Kuok and his alleged donations to DAP and funding of The Malaysian Insight, both of which he strongly denied, and the subsequent outrage among some Umno members offers some interesting insights into fake news and how it is used in Umno politics.

It reflects also that nothing has changed from the establishment view that government contracts are theirs to give whichever way they want and those who get them are to be eternally grateful to the government, the same way the government tells civil servants they should be grateful for what they are getting in salaries and pensions.

First, what was reported by a discredited blogger, Raja Petra Kamarudin, was taken to be the truth (when it could well have been fake news) by Umno leaders who appeared to follow the cue from Prime Minister and Umno president Najib Razak that seemed to indicate that Kuok was fodder for electioneering.

Raja Petra, in a tale of conspiracy and intrigue, written only the way he can with truth, conjecture and unnamed sources for very serious allegations mixed in a heady concoction, spins a tall story of which the main allegation is that Kuok sought to overthrow Umno by splitting up the Malays and supporting opposition parties, including funding them and financing news portals opposed to the government.

The following gives a flavour of what his main contentions are:

“But playing the Chinese market alone is not enough. If it was then Umno and Barisan Nasional would already have been toppled back in 2008 or 2013. It required more than just 85% or 90% Chinese votes. It also needed for the Malays to be split into four or five opposing groups. And this was what DAP had been doing since soon after the 2013 general election: dividing the Malays into Umno, PAS, PKR, PPBM and PAN. And to achieve that it required tons of money, which Robert Kuok was able to provide.

“Crucial to this game was to dominate the social media. Online portals such as The Malaysian Insight and a team of a few thousand cyber-troopers such as DAP’s Red Bean Army would be needed for this. And this, yet again, would need tens of millions, which is mere dedak (or animal feed) for a billionaire such as Robert Kuok.

“So Robert Kuok asked Lim Kit Siang and his son, Guan Eng, who were very close to Jahabar Sadiq (who runs Malaysian Insight), to discuss The Malaysian Insight’s financial needs and how they could come in to provide the RM50 million that The Malaysian Insight needs.

“Ho Kay Tat (CEO of the Edge) would also be appointed the de facto editor-in-chief to coordinate the operations from behind the scenes while making sure that the Malay ‘face’ of The Malaysian Insight is not compromised while the owners of the portal would be paid RM2 million a month to ‘play ball’ and offer the portal immunity from any government clampdown.”

What a fantastic story, and this some Umno politicians believe to be true! But this may go back to...

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