The Star 25 July 1999

Though I never met him I did feel a terrible loss because by all accounts he was a good guy: nice, decent, polite and unpretentious. A regular guy notwithstanding he was an American icon.

My nexus to the legendary Kennedy family is based on a remote attachment and admiration for a family who gave much and suffered much.

I was at President John Fitzgerald Kennedy's inauguration on Jan 20 1961 attended his press conferences, been to the White House several times and I was in Washington DC as a Confessional Fellow.

JFK Jr. was born a year before his father was elected the 35th president of the United States. Like his father I also attended Harvard.

When president Kennedy was assassinated on Nov. 22 1963, I was awakened from a late afternoon nap by the news editor of RTM, Patrick Keith, with the sad news which I immediately passed on to the then Deputy Prime Minister Tun Razak, the man I had started work with as a political and press aide barely two months before.

I wrote Razak's statement of condolences which was broadcast and published in the Malaysian media.

I moved to live in New York three years ago where JFK Jr., had made his home since leaving the White House.

It was in New York, Jacqueline Kennedy-Onassis raised him and his only sibling, Caroline, (now Caroline Schlossberg). For the first two years I lived nine doors away from his mother's former house, an elegant Fifth Avenue Apartment, opposite the Metropolitan Museum where she died in 1994.

But more importantly than all these "linkages" I mourned the passing of JFK Jr. as from one journalist to another.

He was the founding editor-in-chief (and later combining two jobs - president and editor-in-chief of George, a non partisan monthly political magazine which may well be doomed as a result of his death in a plane crash which he himself piloted.

His wife Carolyn Bessette and her sister Lauren were also killed along with him. George was his brain child and his life. Someone once said Kennedy was a walking billboard of George.

I read George irregularly. As if I had a premonition I told Fauzah to get me this month's copy of George which she did.

Now I have in my possession, I think, the last issue of George under the Kennedy editorship. The July copy has on its cover the photograph of Salma Hayek, the Latin heart throb and the current Mexican heat! At the time of writing the August issue has not yet hit the news stands and when it does it will be post Kennedy.