PETALING JAYA - Former Malacca chief minister Tan Sri Rahim Thamby Chik has made his third public apology in four days over an outrageous claim that the Selangor Crown Prince had converted to the Catholic faith.
The latest apology from Rahim, now retired from politics, was posted on his Facebook page at about 6pm yesterday.
It was a Bahasa Malaysia version of his earlier apology, which had been uploaded on Facebook in English on Monday.
"With regards to my posts on Twitter and Facebook regarding DYTM Raja Muda Selangor converting to Catholism, I admit that it came from an unsubstantiated website. I sincerely apologise for any inconvenience and distress it may have caused DYMM Sultan of Selangor, DYTM Raja Muda Selangor and the Selangor Palace," he wrote.
The conversion story linking Tengku Amir Shah to a Hispanic beauty was one of those ludicrous and far-fetched type of claims common on the Internet and was dismissed by the Selangor Palace when it first surfaced in July last year.
A Malay daily had rubbished the report then in a front-page story.
But Rahim's embarrassing fiasco caused a stir due to his famous name. He had even claimed that a meeting with the Pope was in the works.
It is not confirmed yet whether the Selangor Palace will accept Rahim's string of apologies.
The Selangor Council of the Royal Court is scheduled to meet today and the matter is expected to be discussed.
Palace sources said if Rahim had not been so gullible and had bothered to do some basic checking, he would know that the conversion story came from a satire website called World Daily News Report, which is famous for reports such as "Brazilian woman abducted by aliens comes back pregnant".
Its latest "breaking story" is about a paranormal investigator capturing a poltergeist. The website's disclaimer page states that "All characters appearing in the articles in this website - even those based on real people - are entirely fictional and any resemblance between them and any persons, living, dead or undead is purely a miracle".
Two police reports have been made on the matter - one by the Sultan's private secretary Datuk Mohamed Munir Bani and another by the Crown Prince's private secretary Hanafisah Jais.
The police have since interviewed several people regarding possible motives for the publication of the false news.
The media was initially unsure whether the Facebook account in question belonged to Rahim because the owner's name was written as "Rahim Tamby Chik". A family member later confirmed that it was a genuine account.
Rahim has three Facebook accounts, two of which are defunct. When he tried to set up a third account, he could not do it with his actual name as per Facebook's rules, hence the altered name spelling.