Does anyone think I could be bribed for $50,000

So said Malaysian Prime Minister Doctor Mahathir Mohammad when I met him in the early 1990s.

The premier was furious when the Sunday Times, owned by Rupert Murdoch, published an allegation in February 1994 under the headline “Wimpey offered bribes to Malaysian Prime Minister” that Malaysia Government officials, including Mahathir, had been offered a US $50,000 bribe by a British company, Wimpey, to assist them in winning a government contract.

Attempts had been made to resolve the dispute, but various Murdoch executives had got nowhere. I had previously dealt with Malaysian political leaders on sensitive issues, including meeting with the prime minister, and I was asked to assist.

The difficulty for Rupert Murdoch was that Mahathir was blocking Murdoch’s recently acquired TV streaming operation, Star TV (details below), from gaining subscribers throughout South East Asia, a vital territory for Star.

This led to several meetings in Kuala Lumpur, between which I could get over to Langkawi and enjoy the magnificent beaches and scenery.

Eventually, an agreement was reached with the Malaysian Government and Mahathir. They demanded that Andrew Neill, the then editor of the Sunday Times, be removed from his position and that an apology be issued.

Andrew Neil took a £1 million pay-off and was relocated to New York. An apology, of sorts, was subsequently published in the Sunday Times.