Former information minister Zainuddin Maidin turned the clock back to the 1999 general election to show how Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad is a “master of his work”.
In a blog post today, he said Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman made an accurate assessment of Mahathir's character.
Zainuddin, who is better known as Zam, shared an image which showed BN's election manifesto for the 1999 polls, which was handwritten by Mahathir, who was then Umno president and prime minister.
“When the (manifesto) draft was submitted to Mahathir for his approval several days before the election, it did not come out of his room, it was not returned to us (drafting team) who had waited outside for more than three hours.
“What was eventually returned to us was not our manifesto but a handwritten 10-page draft manifesto from Mahathir himself, that was not at all based on our draft,” he said.
“It meant that our manifesto, which we drafted through a long consultation process of over a month, was completely rejected,” he added.
At the time, Zainuddin said the manifesto committee was formed at Mahathir’s request and chaired by then Umno deputy president Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
Apart from Zainuddin, who was then editor-in-chief of Utusan Malaysia, the other members were Umno secretary-general Mohamed Rahmat, Nordin Sopiee from the Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS) and then NST group editor-in-chief Abdul Kadir Jasin.
Zainuddin also recalled how Nordin had told him it was the premier’s “normal” behaviour to reject their draft, as the latter had experienced Mahathir rejecting speeches he had written for him.
Responding to claims that Mahathir had read a scripted speech at the United Nations general assembly in Geneva last week, Syed Saddiq said he knew the Bersatu chairperson as a “master of his work” and would personally write his speeches.
The Muar MP also described his experience of preparing Mahathir's speeches and how the 93-year-old was a “perfectionist” who would not miss a single detail.
Syed Saddiq was responding to a viral post by a government official who reportedly criticised overzealous supporters of Mahathir with regard to his speech in Geneva, claiming that the text would have been prepared by lower-ranking civil servants before being given the “final touches” by the prime minister.