ZAM: DON’T BLAME ME, 2008 GE ONLINE DEFEAT WAS KJ’S FAULT
Abdullah Badawi’s former minister Zainuddin Maidin reveals he was only effectively in charge of RTM while the ‘Fourth Floor Boys’ controlled every other media.
(FMT) – Former federal minister Zainuddin Maidin has dismissed claims that he lost the online battle for the Barisan Nasional (BN) in 2008, saying instead that it was all Khairy Jamaluddin’s fault.
The former newsman told FMT that while he was then information minister, he was powerless to do anything because the media was controlled by the “Fourth Floor Boys”, a term used to refer to the young advisers of then prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
“My power was limited to RTM. Even though I tried to take control of other areas, I was not shown respect because the ‘Fourth Floor Boys’ were in control.”
Zainuddin said the “Fourth Floor Boys” were led by then Umno Deputy Youth Chief Khairy, who was also Abdullah’s son-in-law.
He was responding to claims in Abdullah’s biography titled “Being Abdullah Ahmad Badawi” that Zainuddin’s rejection of social media led to the BN losing four states and its two-thirds majority in the Dewan Rakyat in the 2008 general election.
The author of the book, Wong Sulong claimed Zainuddin was part of a conservative faction in Umno who were satisfied with their control over the mainstream media.
However, the former group editor-in-chief of Utusan Malaysia rejected the label, saying he had made a lot of effort to interact with social media players, including hosting seminars under the Information Department.
He admitted, however, that his relationship with the social media players was not always cordial.
“I also hit out at the social media players as they were too unrestrained and did not follow instructions. I criticised them, but I never controlled them.”
Zainuddin claimed that Khairy used the media controlled by the Fourth Floor Boys to attack his enemies and friends, including him.
“Many areas were ‘attacked’ with exposes. As an example, in my own parliamentary constituency of Merbok it was alleged that I did not provide homes for the poor, when in fact, I had already given them (the poor) keys to their homes.”
He alleged that TV3 sought the comments of a PAS leader saying he (Zainuddin) had not helped the poor, and RTM had to go to many places “attacked” by TV3 to “fix” the situation.
Zainuddin said his role in Abdullah’s administration was different from his role during former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s era, where he had full control of the media.