Most Read
Most Commented
Read more like this
And the Newsmaker of 2017 is...
Published:  Dec 29, 2017 11:01 AM
Updated: Dec 30, 2017 12:59 AM

POLL | Over the past 17 years, Malaysiakini has without fail named a top newsmaker as we bring the curtain down on the year.

A newsmaker is defined as “someone whose actions make news headlines, who effects the course of public discourse and creates an impact in Malaysian politics, for better or worse”.

Malaysiakini has nominated 12 candidates for the Newsmaker of 2017 award. A total of 1,614 participated in the seven-day poll. They voted by indicating their preference for each of the nominees – 0 being the lowest and 10 the highest.

And here’s their verdict – the Newsmaker of 2017 is a man no stranger to controversy. 

He was runner-up to the Newsmaker of 2016, which went for first the time to an acronym – MO1, or Malaysian Official 1.

This year’s newsmaker is former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, a man loved by some, hated by many.

At 92, he continues to hog the headlines and has come out of retirement – did he really retire? – to spearhead the campaign to oust his protégé-turned-nemesis, PM Najib Razak, from power.

Mahathir has straddled Malaysian politics for the good part of four decades and the nonagenarian is not calling it quits anytime soon. There is even talk about him returning as prime minister should the opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan emerge victorious in the upcoming general elections.

Given his omnipresence in the country’s political landscape, it is not surprising that Mahathir is a four-time winner of the award. He was Newsmaker of 2005 (joint winner with Rafidah Aziz), Newsmaker of 2006 and Newsmaker of 2015.

In second place is Najib, who took home the award last year through his namesake, MO1.

MO1 is an acronym used by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) in its civil suit to recover US$1.7 billion in assets allegedly tied to corruption at Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund 1MDB.

The lawsuit, dubbed as the largest ever case brought by DOJ’s Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative, was an attempt to seize assets allegedly bought with “stolen” 1MDB money, among them luxury properties in New York and Los Angeles, Monet and Van Gogh paintings and a Bombardier jet.

The DOJ filed a fresh suit this year and added a few more items to their seizure list - among others, a superyacht, a slew of million-dollar diamonds and rare artworks. It said a total of US$4.5 billion was misappropriated from 1MDB, a fund Najib established in 2009 and whose advisory board he chaired.

No 3 on the list is a “person of interest” in the 1MDB scandal, a term used by US law enforcement when referring to someone who is involved in a criminal investigation who has not been arrested or formally accused of a crime.

He is none other than Jho Low, an associate of Najib and the alleged mastermind in the alleged “heist” of 1MDB’s billions.

A flamboyant mover and shaker over the past decade, Low has since gone into hiding and is reportedly dividing his time between Equanimity - the luxury superyacht sought by DOJ, which often seen in international waters off Phuket - and a top hotel in Shanghai.

Next on the list is Najib’s wife, Rosmah Mansor – the woman who likes to be called the First Lady of Malaysia (Flom), and who is also known as Mrs MO1. She is said to be a lover of luxury handbags and for all things bling.

DOJ has alleged that at least US$27.3 million (RM110 million) of 1MDB money was used to buy a 22-carat pink diamond pendant and necklace for “MO1's wife.”

No 5, 6 and 7 on the list are three Malaysian women of substance - Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, parliamentary opposition leader, Siti Hasmah Ali, devoted wife of Mahathir and Ambiga Sreenevasan, ex-Bar Council chief and Bersih coordinator.

They are followed four other key personalities. In the last spot is Jamal Mohd Yunos, the Sungai Besar Umno leader who is feted by his party for his publicity stunts, but clearly not a man very popular among Malaysiakini readers.

Here’s the full list:

Mahathir Mohamad, from PM to opposition leader

13,772 points

Najib Razak, also known as MO1

12,105 points

Jho Low, confidant of MO1

10,702 points

Rosmah Mansor, allegedly Mrs MO1

10,653 points

Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, parliamentary opposition leader

10,605 points

Siti Hasmah Ali, devoted wife of former PM Mahathir

9,923 points

Ambiga Sreenevasan, ex-Bar Council chief and Bersih coordinator

9,203 points

Pastor Raymond Koh, abducted and fate unknown

8,900 points

Dzulkifli Ahmad, embattled MACC chief

7,690 points

Zakir Naik, controversial Islamic preacher

7,594 points

Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, deputy prime minister

6,592 points

Jamal Mohd Yunos, Umno leader aka sledgehammer

6,191 points

Top 10 news of 2017 - Malaysiakini readers' choice

And Malaysiakini’s most popular commenter is…

Previous newsmakers

2016 - MO1

2015 - Mahathir Mohamad

2014 - Passengers and crew of MH370 and MH17

2013 - Rosmah Mansor

2012 - Ambiga Sreenevasan

2011 - Bersih supporters

2010 - Ibrahim Ali

2009 - Teoh Beng Hock

2008 - YOU

2007 - VK Lingam

2006 - Mahathir Mohamad

2005 - Joint award - Rafidah Aziz and Mahathir Mohamad

2004 - S Samy Vellu

2003 - Husam Musa

2002 - Zainuddin Maidin

2001 - Rais Yatim

Please join the Malaysiakini WhatsApp Channel to get the latest news and views that matter.