Just days before Mahathir lost his bid to become a delegate at the Umno general assembly, pro-Mahathir supporters had launched a new newspaper to help spread the former premier’s views.
Many in the pro-Abdullah camp had been worried that Mahathir’s humiliating defeat would boost sympathy for the latter. True to expectations, pro-Mahathir supporters are redoubling their efforts to spread Mahathir’s message after his defeat.
Calling themselves Gen M, or 'Generasi Tun Dr Mahathir' – the Mahathir generation – the pro-Mahathir group is said to consist of a loose amalgamation of more than 1,000 Umno supporters, university students, young professionals and NGOs who want to express their support to the former Prime Minister.
Although Gen M first started with a website to spread Mahathir’s message, it understands that to spread the message to more people, they need to use more mainstream mediums, and so are now concentrating on putting together the newspaper, Putra Post. They have also produced four VCDs featuring footage from Mahathir’s recent speeches on the ongoing political situation as Mahathir promises to keep up his attacks on the Abdullah administration.
In the pro-Abdullah camp, Umno chiefs have accused the pro-Mahathir camp of presenting Kubang Pasu voters with free copies of Putra Post and VCDs promoting the former premier's views.
As the mainstream media on Wednesday (13 September) played up comments by Umno party leaders who said Mahathir must produce proof to support his latest claims that bribes were paid to defeat him, as well as make a formal complaint about it, the Malaysian public seems to have chosen to diversify their news sources. As testament to the intense interest generated by the Mahathir-Abdullah spat, all 50,000 copies of the fledgling Gen M produced tabloid, Putra Post, were sold out within days.
The newspaper is part of a cottage industry of political websites and blogs that have mushroomed since the Mahathir-Abdullah spat intensified earlier this year. Following the alleged blackout of Mahathir from mainstream news, the pro-Mahathir websites and blogs have become the main resource for pro-Mahathir news and these will be the vehicles for Mahathir's continued fight.
New paper splashes Mahathir's views (The Straits Times, 13 September 2006)
Ex-aides accused of engineering Mahathir's defeat (The Straits Times, 14 September 2006)