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
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.