North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, revered at home by a propaganda machine that turned him into a demi-god and vilified in the West as a temperamental tyrant with a nuclear arsenal, has died, North Korean state television reported today. Kim, who was 69 years old, died on Saturday, it said.
Kim was the unchallenged head of the reclusive state whose economy fell deeper into poverty during his years in power as he vexed the world by developing a nuclear arms programme and an arsenal of missiles aimed to hit neighbours Japan and South
Kim had been portrayed as a criminal mastermind behind deadly bombings, a jovial dinner host, a comic buffoon in Hollywood movies and by the administration of former US President George W Bush as the ruler of "an outpost of tyranny".
He was thought to have suffered a stroke in August 2008. Known at home as "the Dear Leader", Kim took over North Korea in 1994 when his father and founder of the reclusive state Kim Il-sung, known as "the Great Leader", died.
Kim Jong-il, famed for his bouffant hair-do, platform shoes and jump suits, slowly emerged from his father's shadows to become one of the world's most enigmatic leaders who put North Korea on the path of becoming a nuclear power.
Meanwhile, in Paya Besar, Kedah a cordon of what looked like local toughs (understood to be from neighbouring Merbok parliamentary constituency rather than Padang Serai itself) barred people at the turnoff from the main road into the lane that led to Dewan Kaatu Raja.
This cordon strutted around in a menacing manner, spouting slogans abusive of the moral character of the PKR supremo.
PKR cadres said they were the same people responsible for posting an effigy(right), at a prominent intersection on the route to Dewan Kaatu Raja, of what was a corpse of Anwar bound in a white cloth.
Members of PKR Padang Serai Youth wing tried dissuading the toughs from stopping people headed for the ceramah where Anwar was scheduled to speak.
A detachment of the Light Strike Force and the OCPD of Lunas kept a wary eye on a situation whose tension would have ratcheted had the PKR youth cohort not preferred gentle methods of persuasion when talking to the toughs.
“It was a despicable thing to do,” observed Johari Abdul, PKR MP for Sungai Petani, referring to the effigy of Anwar’s corpse when speaking to the sparse crowd that was in the hall before Anwar’s arrival.
But after the surge of people into the hall that followed the main speaker’s arrival, the memory of the indignities and provocations of the earlier part of the evening evanesced as Anwar alternately regaled and riveted the crowd with his speech.