As the year 2019 came to an end here's a list 10 newsmakers which Astro Ulagam thinks deserve mention for making the headlines, for both for the right, and wrong reasons.

1) Mohamed Azmin Ali

The Economic Affairs minister made the news last June, after he was allegedly caught in a video depicting him being involved in a homosexual tryst with former Santubong PKR Youth chief Haziq Abdullah Abdul Aziz. Azmin has denied the charges, while the latter even released a video "confessing" the encounter. Police investigations into the matter are still ongoing.

Azmin, who is also PKR deputy president, also more recently made the headlines after his faction in PKR got involved in a public squabble with that of party president Anwar Ibrahim, which culminated with fists and slaps being thrown between the supporters of both factions, in the PKR national congress.

2) Anwar Ibrahim

No matter how far the PM-in-waiting has come from the days his political days seemed to be over (from being thrown in prison), the PKR supremo still can't seem to be able to catch a break. Charged and jailed with sodomy twice (both charges he has denied), and having to deal with an open rift in his party leadership, Anwar was most recently accused of sexual misconduct by one Muhammad Yusoff Rawther.

The former PKR researcher made a statutory declaration earlier this month, alleging that Anwar had sexually assaulted him in October. Anwar has denied the charges, while Yusoff had undergone a lie detector test to prove his claim. Police investigations are underway.

3) Najib Abdul Razak

For the former prime minister, when it rains, it pours. As if having to deal with dozens of corruption charges (in connection with the SRC and 1MDB) is not enough, Najib was most recently dragged back into the long-buried case of the murder of Mongolian translator Altantuya Shaariibuu.

Former police commando cum convicted murderer Azilah Hadri reportedly in a recent statutory declaration, said that it was Najib who had ordered Altantuya's killing in 2006 when the latter was deputy prime minister.

Najib had denied the charges and even performed a 'sumpah laknat' to plead his innocence. Attorney-General Tommy Thomas has said that he will consider reopening investigations into the murder following Azilah's "confession".

4) Zakir Naik

The fiery Islamic preacher, known for his speeches condemning other religions, got into hot soup in August after his speech in Kelantan where he claimed that Malaysian Hindus were more loyal to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi than they are to Malaysian premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Naik also told critics who asked him to be deported to India, where he is facing money laundering and extremism-related charges, to first ask the Chinese, who are also considered "guests" here, to leave first.

Following widespread backlash and a flurry of police reports against him, the police issued a directive barring him from holding public talks, nationwide. Despite his relative 'silence' since, the preacher, who holds a permanent resident status here, still through his lawyer, threatens to sue those who accuse him of muddling the waters.

5) LTTE suspects

This in the list, is technically more than one person, but nonetheless deserving of a mention. 12 men, including 3 DAP members, were arrested and later charged with alleged involvement with the now-defunct Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) militant group.

The arrest raised eyebrows as the LTTE was defeated by the Sri Lankan military in 2009, leading many quarters to question why the LTTE "boogeyman" was revived after a decade. There were also parties who claimed that the matter was raised to neutralise opposition to Zakir Naik.

It was reported that the families of the suspects have been left in dire straits following the arrests of the sole breadwinners.

6) Mugen Rao

The 24-year-old singer cum actor not only became the first Malaysian to participate in the wildly popular Bigg Boss reality show on Vijay TV, but also won the title in the show's third season.

Following his victory, Mugen had been busy with interviews and appearances in India, as well as making his own music.

7) Yogi B

The "godfather" of Indian hip-hop music continues to make waves in Kollywood, years after his debut. Most recently, his distinctive rap was heard in the "Thani Vazhi" number in Superstar Rajinikanth's upcoming "Darbar" soundtrack.

The rapper, whose real name is Yogeswaran Veerasingam, also won Behindwoods' Gold Mic Award Icon of Inspiration for Rap Music award in October.

8) Nicol David

The Malaysian squash queen Nicol David announced earlier this year that she was hanging up her racquet after 20 years in the sport. The eight-time world champion, was later announced as the "mentor" for the Malaysian contingent for the recently concluded SEA Games in the Philippines.

Post retirement, the 36-year-old world champion also aims to empower girls through sports, by developing the Nicol David Foundation. She also recently held “The Dream Remains” exhibition which ran from Dec 19-20 at the Nicol David Arena, National Squash Complex in Bukit Jalil.

9) Kisona Selvaduray

Shuttler Kisona Selvaduray pulled a surprise at the SEA Games when she won the gold in the women's singles category.

The 21-year-old Seremban born lass, who is ranked 104 in the women's singles world ranking, came from behind 20-22, 21-14, 21-13, to defeat Indonesian Ruselli Hartawan, who is ranked 37 in the same category.

Kisona's style of emerging victorious despite initially lagging behind has earned her the moniker 'comeback queen' on social media. Last September, Kisona won the Sydney International Tournament by defeating Japan's Shiori Ebihara 21-18, 21-13 in the women's singles final, in just 36 minutes.

The best part about Kisona winning the SEA Games gold was that she was put as a replacement to shuttler Goh Jin Wei, who had to withdraw from the tournament following a surgery.

10) Ganesh Asirvatham

The 40-year-old from Klang is certified as the world's number one Scrabble player, by the World English Language Scrabble Players Association (Wespa).

The former English teacher has been playing Scrabble since he was young and entered his first competition at the age of 11, but retired in 2008. However, he started playing again in 2017 and the rest is history.

Ganesh was also the former Guinness World Record holder for the most Scrabble opponents played simultaneously by one challenger, where he beat 21 out of 25 opponents during his record attempt.

Source: The Star, Malaysiakini, Astro Ulagam
Photo source: Astro Awani,, thestar,