Published: Friday January 1, 2010 MYT 10:39:00 AM
Updated: Friday January 1, 2010 MYT 1:24:54 PM
Tok Mat dies (Update)
KUALA LUMPUR: Former Information Minister and former Umno secretary-general Tan Sri Mohamed Rahmat (pic) passed away Friday morning at his home in Bukit Damansara.
Tok Mat, as he is known, was 71. He was reported to have been suffering from diabetes.
He was to celebrate his 72nd birthday next Monday.
Tok Mat was the person who controlled for more than a decade what the Malaysian public saw and heard on Government TV and radio channels as Information Minister from 1987 to 1999.
In his interview on Oct 12 on the release of his book Umno: Akhir Sebuah Impian (Umno: The End of a Dream), he had admitted that his job was really as a Propaganda Minister.
In the book he explains how his ministry’s campaigns, such as Setia (Loyalty), were actually a response to the Team A versus Team B split in Umno in 1987.
Apart from being a Cabinet Minister, Tok Mat had also served as ambassador with ministerial rank to Indonesia.
Tok Mat has a son Datuk Nur Jazlan, who is Member of Parliament of Pulai, which is also his former constituency.
He will be buried at the Bukit Kiara Muslim Cemetery after Asar prayers.
Bernama reported that Tok Mat died in his sleep, according to Nur Jazlan.
Nur Jazlan said the family came to know that Tok Mat had died at about 8am when his mother, Puan Sri Salbiah Abdul Hamid, tried to wake up her husband.
"He died in his sleep," he told reporters at the house.
Nur Jazlan said his father had been suffering from kidney ailment for about 10 years and had been on dialysis treatment.
Tok Mat served as the information minister twice, from 1978 to 1982 under then prime minister, the late Tun Hussein Onn, and from 1987 to 1999 under then prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
He was also Malaysia's ambassador to Indonesia, with ministerial status, from 1982 to 1984.
He held the post of Umno secretarygeneral from 1988 to 1996 and as the Barisan Nasional (BN) secretary-general from 1988 to 1999.
As the minister of information, Tok Mat introduced the "Setia Bersama Rakyat" (Semarak) programme aimed at instilling in the people greater love for the country.
Tok Mat was also known for his firmness.
One instance where he displayed it was when he ordered rock singers to trim their long hair if they wanted to participate in programmes broadcast over Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM).
Among those who followed the directive were the rock groups Wings, with lead singer Awie, and Search, with lead singer Amy.