I know it’s hard to believe. I mean, even to me, it seems like another lifetime. But Azalina Othman Said (Malaysia’s Youth and Sport’s Minister) and I use to go to the same school. We were classmates at SMK MGS Kuantan, and good friends at that. She was always a highly spirited gal, very popular, even at that time, and had a very “notable” walk. She used to be very vain about her hair too. I remember writing my first Malay poem for her, a poem about friendship.
When I left the school after Form 4, I lost contact with Aza (as we used to call her). 18 years later, I heard her voice over the phone. I was at the Women’s Crisis Centre at that time, not as a client, but a staff. We were happy to have met again. “Of course I remember you,” she had said. “You are one of the nice ones”.
She was an upcoming lawyer, pro-women activists and a good trainer. So you can imagine my disappointment when she joined Umno. In fact, when I was covering an Abdullah Badawi event at one time (before he was PM), she introduced me to Khairy the Son-in-Law. “She’s the most vicious reporter”, Aza told Khairy. But I didn’t care for Khairy. He never impressed me.
Of course, my disappointment did not stop there. I was even more flabberghasted when she told a mutual friend she would stop talking to me unless or until I left Malaysiakini.
After I left Malaysiakini, we did not meet, and to me, there wasn’t much loss, as really, with friends like this, do we need enemies? Now that I am a blogger, I am not sure whether Aza remembers me or not.
I was proven right when the issue of UMNO cyber troopers came about. That’s Aza’s task for Umno. For the un-initiated, cyber troopers are those keris wielding guys and gals who prey the internet looking for an unsuspecting blogger, any blogger, who speaks against their General. Their crime can be anything from linking their sites to unknown websites to allowing controversial comments to actually accusing the General’s army of murder. If you are spotted anywhere it between – Siap-lah kau.
And now I hear she’ll be speaking about bloggers again, at the PWTC. Rocky Bru says that Aza is going to brief Umno members about blogs. “I hope she’d tell them the truth about bloggers and the good that they can bring”. Don’t bet on it-lah. She’s not the same person we know. When one has a political master, things change. And what can she say to Umno -only what Umno wants to know.
But if her cyber-troopers are reading this, maybe they can “kirim salam” (greetings) for me to her, for old time sake.
Otherwise, I have long since given up on Aza. And it is also beyond me now what Umno thinks about bloggers.