Media Statement: Government’s deafening silence on disclosure that it paid US PR consultants to attack Anwar

Last week former president George W. Bush’s speechwriter Joshua Trevino submitted records to the US Government establishing that he was paid by the Malaysian government through APCO Worldwide in a campaign promoting Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s administration while attacking Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Trevino’s filings exposed that he received US$389,724.70 from the Malaysian government, the ruling UMNO-BN party or closely-related interests. In August last year, Trevino was forced to resign as a columnist from the UK newspaper, the Guardian after he did not declare his role as a consultant to FBC Media, for which he wrote a piece lauding Najib’s moderate credentials.

In 2011, Najib admitted that the government paid RM94 million to FBC Media from 2007 to 2010. FBC has also paid US$70,000 to APCO Worldwide to lobby the US government on behalf of Najib’s administration. When the news-fixing scandal was exposed, BBC and CNBC terminated FBC’s contracts for breaching journalistic ethics.

Ironically while UMNO-BN continues to paint Anwar as pro-Israel in its domestic propaganda, Trevino and the other consultants worked hard to paint Anwar as anti-Israel abroad.

Najib has to answer the following questions that arise from this scandal:

g) How much tax-payers’ money has his administration paid PR consultants, particularly overseas to write anti-Pakatan Rakyat and Anwar Ibrahim pieces?

h) Other than APCO in the US and FBC in the UK, where else has the BN paid PR consultants to damage the opposition’s image?

i) Who is involved in the hiring and coordinating with the PR consultants?

j) What instructions are given with regards to how the consultants deal with Anwar Ibrahim as the bulk of the work being done by the consultants are solely about attacking Anwar?

k) Is the government aware that many of the consultants hired are known for their extreme right-wing and Islamophobic views, who deride Islam, the Muslim Brotherhood and American Muslims?

l) Is the government aware that many of the consultants hired are staunch and avid supporters of Israel to the detriment of the Palestinians?

With the election around the corner it is time Najib comes clean on the matter. It is significant that while Najib continues to spend millions of the taxpayers’ money for spin and propaganda, he continues to evade Anwar’s call for a policy debate for the benefit of the Malaysian voters.

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