Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Why we should take the Merdeka Centre polls seriously ..

Of words like "too" and "still". Abang Din is right: We shouldn't take it TOO seriously.

DPM: Not too seriously
Not too long ago, a newspaper that was run by someone close to Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, then the Prime Minister, made that silly mistake and took the Merdeka Centre survey findings way too seriously. After the Merdeka Centre found that Abdullah's popularity  had dipped to an all-time low of 61 per cent, the guy ordered the newspaper to conduct a similar survey using more or less the same number of respondents (1000+) and published findings in Nov 2007 to say that Abdullah was still popular and everything was hunky-dory. Four months later, the BN returned the worst performance in a general election, losing the two-thirds majority in Parliament and five states.

Neither should we take the Merdeka Centrre poll lightly. Or rubbish it totally, like this clever guy did. Remember, the same Merdeka Centre poll had charted Najib's pop ratings from 44 per cent before he took over as PM to 72 per cent in June last year. With 1000-plus respondents, you don't get anything exact but there's something scientific in the methods of the survey. At the very least, we get the picture.

The general picture is, 59 per cent pop ratings means Najib is STILL popular. Now, why would anyone want to dismiss that? The right thing (for BN) to do is to take this perception in the right perspective seriously enough to turn into into something positive. There is STILL time ..

Anwar thinks this means his ratings
are up and maybe he can still become PM

p.s .Journalists who worked under A Kadir Jasin at the NSTP would think twice before using the word "still".  It is a defensive, negative word, he'd say: When someone asks you if you can still get it up, that's not really good. And if your answer is, "Of course I can still get it up ..." that's even worse because you are confirming that you could barely get it up and that there are times that you actually can't get it up!


with updates
31 Aug 1957. The same year Malaysia achieved its Merdeka from the British, Ghana became the first African state to gain its Independence*. A year earlier, Sudan, Morocco and Tunisia got their Independence** and in 1958 it was Guinea's turn to be freed of colonialism. In 1960, the year we turned 3 years old, Cameroon, Senegal, Togo, Rep of Congo, Somalia, Madagascar, Benin, Niger, Bukina Faso, Cote d'Ivorie, Chad, Central African Republic, Dem Republic of Congo, Gabon, Cyprus, Mali, Nigeria and Mauritania became Independent nations.

Today, Ghana, which was one of the richest nations in Africa before the British conquest, is doing pretty well see tables for Malaysia and Ghana). Wars and strife have obstructed the progress of many of these nations. Somalia, as we know, is in ICU. In comparison, we are not doing badly at all ...

Selamat Hari Merdeka. May we forge stronger ahead despite our petty "wars" and may our children live happily ever after us.

Pls click on image to scrutinize:

* .. from the British
** Sudan, Morocco and Tunisia all gained independence the year before from their French masters.

The BBC, which is British, by the way, described Ghana as the first black African country to become Independent ...

Monday, August 29, 2011

Selamat Hari Raya

Masjid Namirah, Ramuan China
There are two kinds of Malays - the kind who wish you Selamat Hari Raya and the other who wish you Eid Mubarak. But either way, the Malays are generally a kind people. Sometimes, they are one kind but on Hari Raya, they are the kind that forgive and forget. The spirit of Aidil Fitri is such, it is to give as well as to receive, and to say thanks for everything.

And in that spirit, I wish you Selamat Hari Raya, Maaf Zahir Batin.

Before I drive down to Lubok China, my hometown, for the Raya, I'd like to share some good news with you. May our nation prosper and may our children live peacefully ever after us.

Read the rest of the good news h e r e and Malaysia's fist half FDI up 76 per cent

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Gag Order: When in Selangor, STFU!

"No other states have dared to implement the Freedom of Information Enactment. This is a product of the people's power." - YB Elizabeth Wong, tabling the FOI on last April Fool's Day
Freedom Gag on Information. Read the article in the Star published on 1 April 2011, Selangor assembly passes Freedom of Information Act. It wasn't an April Fool's joke but MB Khalid Ibrahim's gag order since the JAIS raid on the Church in Damansara early this month has exposed one of Pakatan Rakyat's biggest 2008 General Election's promises as an empty promise.

People's power? More like power to the people in power, eh Tan Sri? 

Remember what you said on the last World Press Freedom Day, Khalid? You declared that, “For a country that practises democracy, oppressive laws ... used to keep media in line and prevent ordinary .citizens from exercising their full rights to access information, should not be allowed to remain in Malaysia”.

And then you gag us to save your own butt. You are so pathetic, Sir.

You've Gagged Enough, Khalid!!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Tajudin's RM200 mil (?) suit against the Malaysian Insider

Related: Rise in defamation cases involving blogs and Twitter

Original posting:- While I may sometimes scowl at the way The Malaysian Insider politicizes news to suit its agenda, I cringe when I hear that former MAS boss Tajudin Ramli is going after the news portal in a multi-million ringgit defamation suit. Yes, the Tan Sri has a right to seek legal redress if the editors of TMI have done him wrong and purposely won't right it, but RM200 million - the amount I heard the Tan Sri has put on TMI's head - is sinful.

Jahabar, MI editor
If they have to sue newspapers, people should do it because they want to set the record straight, not for vendetta, glory or money for none of that will come their way. TMI could be out to kill anything or anyone linked to Mahathir, Daim and now Najib-Muhyiddin, but then we have known that already. If I were Tajudin, I'd start to get worried if the Insider writes good, rosy or sexy stuff about him or makes him up to look as good as their heroes Anwar Ibrahim or Ambiga ...

The mega lawsuit posting in Big Dog's H E R E.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Lynas lies: Fuziah wasn't alone

Anti-Lynas endorsement from the Big Boss
"Clearly BN in its pursuit for blind profits is willing to put aside environmental concerns and place the health and safety of the people at risk ... First it is Pahang and now Perak, rare earths plants spraig up unhindered without proper and full consultation with the people of its possible high risk impact. Only PR-ruled states have taken a firm and uncompromising stand against rare-earth refineries and mines." - Lim Guan Eng, DAP, Apr 2011
"The Malaysian Bar strongly urges the Government to take all necessary steps to halt Lynas, and to protect its people and enviroment." - Lim Chee Wee, president of Bar Council Party (Lawyers want Lynas out of Malaysia, Malaysian Insider, 
"... Rare earth industry will destroy the lives of people, wreck the environment and leave behind a trail of poison that will linger for billions of years.
Why is the government putting economic gains above the lives of the people?Have our lives become so cheap that the government wants to go ahead with a deadly industry?" - Haris Ibrahim, president of the Malaysian Civil Liberties Movement
"We don't want to be guinea pigs. This means the governmetn will only take action after the fact. Once we have leukemia how will they address that?" - Andansura Rabu, chairman of the Badan Bertindak Anti Rare Earth Refineries
Were they misled themselves, or did they collude to mislead the people of Malaysia? If they did, why? Because they are against anything and everything that the government does as long as the government is BN? If so, they should never again pretend to behave as if they care about the people. And in view of the confession of a nuclear scientist who is a Member of Parliament, who could not stand the lies anymore, (Pas MP defends Lynas, the Star 25 August) these people ought to be ashamed of themselves.

Limited impact: Only 2000-odd misled?

Read also:

Nix Lynas plant, says doctor association
Lawyers want Lynas out of Malaysia
BN MPs to back anti-Lynas campaign, says sources
NGO condemns Lynas plant in Australia, rejects IAEA report ... All in the Malaysian Insider.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The portal that's going to bring down Najib Razak

Mr Mole of Wind in the Willows
The MOLE. Jakarta blogger Unspun asked me about the portal I'm working on (going live 16/9, Malaysia Day, if Allah wills it) and how I plan to take down a waking Prime Minister with it. He's cut-and-pasted my answers in The Cat, The Rock(y), and The Premier ...

A word of thanks to journalist Uppercaise, new-kid-on-the-blog Cat Out of The Bag (who has a new posting on the mysterious Alies Anor, by the way) and Tun Faisal's troopers for giving the coming portal a great publicity.As usual, you guys/girls give me too much credit.

Now, my former teacher, Anak si-Hamid, is going to make me stand on the chair for sharing with you this mail she sent me when discussing the subject of The Mole ...

Hello Din,  
As for the MOLE - which version are you thinking of?
1. a spot on the face' often ugly.
2. a scientific measurement of molecules - a unit of measurement 6.02 x 10 to the 23rd - used to calculate how many atoms are in a molecule. It's good because it's big enough to use, as atoms are too small
3. an undesirable female, not to be confused with MOLL.
4.  cannabis resin and tobacco mixed in a grinder  (NOW WE'RE TALKING) - can give you a whopping headache though.
5.short for Moleman, a computer nerd who hardly comes out of his hole.
6. an animal that lives underground (some similarities with you here) - but this animal is short-sighted/blind. It is small and furry, good at destroying gardens.
7.a spy and an informer .  One who gathers information.  Is this why you chose MOLE?  I prefer a ferret because it goes for the jugular - but I know you cannot operate like this, like Miss Hamid.
8. Mr Mole and Mr Ratty in 'Wind in the Willows" by Kenneth Grahame were the good guys trying to save the stupid and self-obsessive and self-destructive Mr Toad.  Shamsul could be Ratty and the Malays in general could be Mr Toad.

Oh, Bugger!

Did Malaysia's Anwar Say too

Written by John Berthelsen   

He says accuser acknowledged readying himself for sex
Deep into Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim’s hour-long attack Monday on the Malaysian court that is trying him for sodomy, a sentence appeared that seems extremely awkward for both prosecution and defense. 
Anwar said in his prepared statement that after Saiful went to Anwar’s condo in an exclusive area of Kuala Lumpur, he admitted that “he had brought along lubricant and had himself voluntarily and without hesitation applied it” to get ready to go ahead with the sexual act.

A US diplomatic cable on the WikiLeaks website that was published in Asia Sentinel on Jan. 20, 2011, related that “Singapore's intelligence services and Lee Kuan Yew have told the Australian Office of National Assessments (ONA) that opposition leader Anwar ‘did indeed commit the acts for which he is currently indicted, citing unshared technical intelligence. ONA assessed, and their Singapore counterparts concurred, ‘it was a set up job -- and he probably knew that, but walked into it anyway.’" 

It is hard not to come to the same conclusion. - 

Bru: Got this from Apanama who got it from Sentinel ... 
Go over there to READ MORE ...

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A slip, or something more sinister, Kompas?

The "strange apology" by a respected newspaper
Ring their bell. Indonesians are very proud of their new-found freedom of the Press. Therefore, Kompas' apology to Najib Razak and family injures that pride, and injures it badly, not least because Kompas is (was?) "the most respected newspaper in the land ... has the highest circulation ... is very conservative and very careful about what it writes, so much so that sometimes its readers have to wade through lots of ho-ing and humming just to get at the meat of a story".

Worse still for the proud Indonesian is the not knowing if it was a screw-up or a cover up on the part of Kompas journalists, or something more sinister involving others.

When I chanced upon YB Khairy's twitter on the Kompas apology, he taunting Anwar Ibrahim's supporters for their silence on the matter, I quickly contacted blogger Unspun, a former colleague at the Star in PJ from another time, to check if it was true. Ong alerted me of his posting yesterday, As always, he sums it up nicely, calling Kompas' apology "a strange apology".

What's really bizarre, though, is the decision by the Kompas' editors to publish the Aug 4 article in the first place.

If this had happened in New Straits Times, heads would have been on the chopping block. But in Indonesia where we believed there was Press freedom, they are all  "left wondering how it came about that the most respected publication in the country could have fumbled so badly, apologized so strangely and what sort of checks and balances it exercises to ensure that people are not the victims of misreporting?"

Read the entire Kompas' strange apology to Malaysian PM Najib Razak

The interview with Najib Razak

Monday, August 22, 2011

Abang Din gunning for the No 1 seat!?

Muhyiddin? If Najib Razak's people start believing in talk that his deputy is conspiring to bring down their boss, then my dear Prime Minister is in greater danger than I thought. There is no Muhyiddin-Ku Li-Anwar Ibrahim troika and there is no Mahathir-Muhyiddin-Mukhriz troika. What we have is an attempt to drive a wedge between the No 1 and No 2. And what we have is a PM who is in need to have all his men and women do the jobs they are supposed to do so that he can do his, and so that this nation can get going again.

The same applies to the Deputy Prime Minister's people.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Ampun, Pak Najib .. (?)

Updated, 22 Aug 3am: RPK writes: Yes, Rocky, my friend, I will certainly apologise if I had erred. But ... 
Actually, Pet, when I said some bloggers owe Najib an apology in this posting and in Making mistakes, and Correcting them, I had this good Christian in mind ... For he has clearly erred!

Original article

Malaysiakini article on Kompas apology 

Indonesian newspaper apologizes to PM over lies and fabrication, says KJ. And they should, too, if they had lied and fabricated. The Malaysian Insider said sorry to Najib Razak just the other day.

Some bloggers should learn how ... Making mistakes, correcting them.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Is Rais Yatim's MCMC dragging its feet over Utusan's fake diamond page?

Tunggu arahan orang atas ke? Utusan Malaysia lodged a police report on Aug 12 about the fake cover story on the RM24 million diamond that  is still going viral in cyber.Why they took so long to lodge the police report about the forgery beats me but at least they have lodged the report.

The FAKE Utusan cover
I would have thought the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), the so-called cyber cops, would have started investigating the case when the issue cropped up like ages ago.

Many reasons why:
1. The circulation of the fake Utusan front page is misleading a lot of people, including lawyers, doctors and foreign newspapers
2. It aims to tarnish the image of the Prime Minister and his wife
3. It affects the credibility of the government

But, no, the MCMC told Utusan yesterday that it will investigate after the newspaper has lodged a report with its officers in Cyberjaya or Shah Alam. Not before. (So Utusan is lodging the report with the MCMC this Monday)

That would have been fine by most people, including me, but for the fact that when Rais Yatim, the minister in charge of MCMC, lodged the police report against me over a report in The Malay Mail, the Commission could not wait for his report to launch their investigation and seize my computer from my home.
"Orang atas arah," I was told.
Another case was the Negara Kristian report by Big Dog. The MCMC launched an investigation two hours before YB Jeff Ooi lodged a police report!

Pilih bulu, Pak Rais?

p.s. By the way, a Chinese friend complained why so gloom this Raya. Macam tak de mood. The rain doesn't help. Come Xmas, you get tallest, biggest, prettiest Christmas trees, "snow" at Pavilion, the carol and Santa Clauss, etc. Chinese New Year pun manyak meliah. This year's a double celebration -- Raya and Merdeka. Itu bendera pun jalang2 nampak. Apa sat?

Mmmm .. who's the minister in charge of celebrations?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Hannah Yeoh or Hasnah Yeop?

Ah, Helen Ang! First term state assemblyman Hannah Yeoh's politically-charged crusade to declare her newborn's race as "Malaysian" instead of Chinese or Indian (Hannah is Chinese and hubby is Indian) may have inspired some but not blogger Helen Ang, one of some 6.4 million Malaysian Chinese in this country.
Helen:  "Jika semua Anak Malaysia (bangsa Cina/bangsa India merupakan konsep kolot perkauman mengikut wacana pembangkang pasca-2008), buat apa kita hendak kekalkan sistem pendidikan aliran vernakular?"
Bru: Betul jugak.
"Lebih baik dia kata berpegangan Agama Malaysia, barulah boleh padan dengan istilah keturunan Anak Malaysia. Jike demikian, kenapa dia mendaftar anaknya sebagai Kristian pula?"
Ye tak ye, pelik.
"Adakah anda kenal siapa Wang Lian Xiang? Beliau ialah jaguh Olympik sukan badminton. Namanya harum di dunia sebagai Susi Susanti."
Hah, nak jadi macam Indonesia? Tukarlah nama yang lebih "Malaysia".

Someone said last night she's waiting for Helen to do a Part Two on Marina Mahathir. You remember that one? I thought that was brutal, but try reading her Ibu Pin* Menjaja Teko Raksaksa DAP.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Jacob & Co to sue over diamond

If it happens, it won't come as a surprise. The RM24 million diamond "scandal" cooked up on the social media last month gave Jacob & Co a lot of publicity but it is not a company that needs any. Certainly not bad publicity.

The blogger Apanama, who proved that the diamond was not bought by Rosmah Mansor as alleged (see his posting here, complete with K1 and K2 Customs Declaration forms as proof that the diamond came in and went out), gives broad hints in Jacob to reward Chegubard as to who is likely to get sued by Jacob & Co, presumably for bringing it great disrepute.

Utusan Malaysia was said to have also lodged a report to the MCMC on the "fake" front page some anti-Najib cybertroopers were circulating. The front page showed Rosmah and the diamond ring, and her admission of purchase. Wonder what happened to MCMC's investigation ...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Khazanah clarifies

NO to Air Asia X. At the end of this article, I said there were two things we felt strongly against with regards to the MAS-Air Asia deal. One of them is the inclusion of Air Asia X in the deal. YB Wee Choo Keong explains in detail why Air Asia X should be OUT of the picture in Who are the business partners of Tony in Air Asia X, a private limited company? Now you know why there were so many  references to the ECM Libra-Avenue takeover when the MAS-AA deal first surfaced!

p.s. And I hear the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission could be re-opening that file, for some reasons.
Original posting:-

Tony F ... Does not speak for MAS or Khazanah

Bashir stays

YB Wee ... To rock parliament this Oct

Syed F ... Gotta wait ..

AJ ... Happy where he is
Malaysia Airports, Tony F, Syed F. Alas, the Mother of All Telco deal in the mold of the MAS-Air Asia share swap is not happening. Our host was asked last night about talk of a Maxis-Axiata (which owns Celcom) deal and he said, "Nope".

The Tan Sri also told us that Malaysia Airports is in good hands so Khazanah has no reasons to change horses midstream. My apologies to Ahmad Jauhari and Syed Faisal. One of you may still be MD of Malaysia Airports one day but that won't be too soon. Tan Sri Bashir's tenure is good until middle 2012.

Tony Fernandes' "attack mode" against Malaysia Airports is not sanctioned by Khazanah. The Air Asia boss does not speak for MAS, either. He will have to pay every sen that he owes to MAHB, if he hasn't done that already, as that was part of the deal for the MAS-AA share swap.

The overriding message from last night's meeting, which stopped at 02.02 am, is that AA is NOT taking over MAS management. A CEO of MAS will be named soon; in the meantime, Md Nor is the de facto Executive Chairman of the naitonal carrier.

The bloggers remain opposed to 2 issues regarding the MAS-AA deal:
1. Air Asia X
2. MAS Catering

YB Wee Choo Keong gave fair warning last night about raising hell in Parliament this October. It might wake up a sleeping giant at MAS.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Malaysia tells international media, "We will not censor you"

"If the international media wants to criticise us, let it be. If we need to, we engage them (and) we give our side of the story. And if they cross the line, we have to resolve it through legal means." Read more: PM: Media censorship no longer relevant
Applaud. But will the international media be equally fair to Najib Razak? I doubt it. Just take a look at the latest reporting by The Economist, which is really an advertisement for the Opposition masquerading as a piece of journalism. Kudos to blogger Pure Shiite for exposing this crime against my profession, for ripping the advertorial into pieces, and for the courage in asking the Penang chief minister, Mr Eng, How much did you pay the Economist to write the article?

The Malay Mail called me up for my response to Najib's pledge. This is the statement I gave them a while ago:

"At a time when David Cameron is seeking a ban on the social media for allegedly creating unrest and Khalid Ibrahim is executing a gag order on the Press over the church raid issue, Najib's vow of no more "Economist"-like censorship on the international media juts out as a progressive voice in support of media freedom. Hishammuddin and Rais Yatim,  please take note. And Guan Eng, Khalid, Anwar Ibrahim and MB Azizan - don't just clailm to be champions of freedom of expression and the media, walk the talk please and stop using it as a tool to win votes if, once in power, you are going to ban the MSM from your sight as soon as you don't like what is being reported.

"At the same time, I hope the PM's openness is not abused by the foreign media, some of which have been known to be unfairly critical of Malaysia due to vested interest.

"Also, hope it does not lead to too many legal suits as these can be construed as a means to censor the media."

Monday, August 15, 2011

What Felda settlers want

Away from the MAS-AA racket (as in noise, not racket as in organized crime!)*, the Mother of All Telco Deals I was rambling about earlier, and whatever they are trying to do at Malaysia Airports which the bloggers will try to stop if it involves Tony F, our Felda settlers are having it good with the sweetness of their first listing on the Bursa. Can anyone blame them for wanting more?

Peneroka tunggu IPO baru
MENELITI kejayaan penyenaraian tawaran awam permulaan (IPO) MSM Holdings Berhad (MSM) yang disenaraikan pada 28 Jun lalu cukup mengujakan, pemegang saham yang terdiri daripada para peneroka tentunya mengharapkan IPO seterusnya.
Pelaksanaan penyenaraian syarikat milik Felda Global Ventures Holdings Sdn. Bhd. (Felda Global) memberi manfaat besar kepada peneroka malah mencerminkan satu kejayaan baru buat Felda dalam menyusuri fasa kedua 50 tahun pembangunannya.
Pegangan saham sebanyak 20 peratus dalam MSM melalui Koperasi Permodalan Felda (KPF) telah membolehkannya mengaut keuntungan hampir RM300 juta untuk ahli-ahlinya. Ini secara langsung telah membuahkan keuntungan kepada 112,635 keluarga peneroka yang merupakan ahli KPF. - Continue reading ...

This article reminds me of a proposal Dr Mahathir made about listing Felda on the KLSE when he was Prime Minister. And thank God for Google, I found that speech of his from the Bajet 2004; go to Revisiting a Sterling Idea for the excerpts and a link to the full text. But then, soon after delivering that last budget speech of his, Dr M stepped down and made way for Ahmad Abdullah Badawi. We know what happened -- or didn't happen -- after that lah ..

Latest: What the PM wants Felda settlers to do last night ... H E R E

* Read WAU! What a rosy report on MAS! by YB Wee Choo Keong for latest sample of the racket

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Once there were two Fs

FBC and Fox. Some people may want us to forget that the FBC Media was a product of the Abdullah Ahmad Badawi era. 
But how can we forget (or forgive) that easily?
In the PR world back then, there were two big Fs: FBC and Fox Communications.
Fox was led by two ex-editors who shared great affinity with the people who set up the Malaysian Insider to prop up a flailing Prime Minister.
Fox and FBC were yin and yang. They shared the same bed. They walked hand in hand in the corridors of power during the Abdullah reign.
Their portfolios were to-die-for. They were the envy of all PR companies.
But when Sime Darby decided to part ways with FBC in Nov 2008, just months after Pak Lah was  replaced by Najib, the good streak was ending. Three months later, Fox had nothing more to do with Sime.
Fox's contracts ended one by one and when there was no more, it called it quits here. 
Now it's FBC's turn. 
Putrajaya did not "ditch FBC Media as image experts after the expose". Their contract ended, full stop. "Finally", some may add.

But read the Insider's article, anyway ...

Putrajaya ditches FBC Media as image experts after exposé

August 12, 2011
KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 12 — Putrajaya has now ended its contract with British publicity firm FBC Media after an embarrassing exposé last week revealed Malaysian leaders routinely appeared in paid-for interviews on global television programmes.
The Malaysian Insider understands that the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) terminated FBC Media’s contract in the past week, just months after another public relations firm, APCO Worldwide from the United States, met an ignominious end for alleged links to Israel.

File photo of Defterios appearing on a TV programme. — Picture courtesy of
“The contract with FBC Media is over. PMO has enough people to handle publicity locally and abroad,” a source toldThe Malaysian Insider.
FBC Media’s dealings with the Malaysian government came to light after supplementary supply Bills showed vast payments made for a “Global Strategic Communications Campaign”.
The records showed that between 2008 and 2009, RM57.7 million was paid by the Prime Minister’s Office to FBC Media for the campaign.
Despite FBC Media’s contract, veteran newspaper editor Datuk A. Kadir Jasin’s also revealed that Putrajaya has some 11 press aides working for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak against the three who served Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in his 22 years in power.
FBC Media has also been linked to Najib’s predecessor Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, who apparently paid US$5 million (RM15 million) for public relations services that included television programmes and professional bloggers to burnish his image before the April 16 state polls.
Global broadcasters have been scrambling to contain potential damage after the allegations of impropriety surfaced following the expose by whistleblower Sarawak Report, which linked the interviews and other programmes produced by FBC Media as having been paid millions of ringgit by the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition to shine its international image.
US-based broadcaster CNN denied last week it was paid to interview Najib during his visit to London last month but questions remain about the role played by its anchor John Defterios after the latter’s FBC Media programme “World Business” was axed early this month by rival network CNBC.
The spotlight is on the relationship between FBC Media — the British publicity firm led by media giant Alan Friedman with Defterios still listed as its group president — and broadcasters like CNBC, CNN and the BBC.
As a result of the allegations, the BBC has also said it will suspend programmes produced by FBC Media and investigate the company.
Influential Washington-based news website said FBC Media is listed in lobbying reports as having paid tens of thousands of dollars to Washington-based lobbying firm APCO in recent years to lobby on behalf of the Malaysian government.
CNN’s denial comes on the heels of rival CNBC’s decision to drop its flagship show “World Business”, which has similarly been alleged to have been paid to feature Najib in its prime-time news slots last month after his administration cracked down on a civil rally pushing for cleaner and more honest elections.
Both interviews were conducted by Defterios which has raised eyebrows over his appearance on the rival channels as well as questions over a conflict of interest to his unclear ties with FBC Media.
Defterios was listed as director in the British firm on the FBC Media website before it was stripped down to a one-page fact sheet yesterday, with all information about its board members removed. The information remains available on the whistleblower Sarawak Report website.
CNN told Politico that Defterios has been a full-time employee since March and had cut all ties with FBC Media at that time, but he remains listed as CNBC’s managing editor for the just-axed “World Business” programme.
In profiles of Defterios available online, he is listed as the group president of FBC Media.
Apart from CNN, FBC Media has also produced editorial content for the UK broadcaster BBC.
The British broadcaster told Politico all independent TV companies are required to sign strict agreements with it to prevent conflicts of interests and that it was not aware of some of the information provided by FBC but will be investigating the claims “as a matter of urgency.”
The Sarawak Report, in a story published in early August, claimed insider sources revealed Najib “suggested” to Taib that he hire FBC Media to bolster his seemingly flagging popularity after the Sarawak chief minister appeared to suffer a publicity crisis due to allegations of extensive corruption.
Both have not denied the report since it was published by the whistleblower website.