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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Anwar to zero in on Apco in Parliament today

KUALA LUMPUR, March 30 — The ongoing controversy involving Apco Worldwide, the US-based public relations consultancy hired by the Najib Administration, will be ramped up a notch when Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim addresses Parliament today.

After years of accusing Anwar of Jewish ties — his close association with World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz is often cited — it appears the tables have been turned against the government.
The Straits Times reports that Anwar has “fresh information on Apco’s activities, its contract with the Malaysian government, and the strong links of one of its associate units with Israel.”
The report also goes on to say that “Anwar is expected to zero in on Asero Worldwide, an Apco associate company that specialises in homeland security and is headed by several personalities who were involved with security agencies in Israel.”
The Straits Times quotes B. Jay Cooper, Apco’s deputy managing director in Washington as saying that while “Asero has no contractual relationship with the government of Israel” and is a “separate business from Apco”, it did through its corporate holding provide “some administrative support to Asero in the form of accounting and other corporate services”.
Ironically, one of the reasons Apco was hired was to help improve Malaysia’s ties with the US, which had soured during the Mahathir Administration.
But it looks like this Apco-Israeli controversy may have a negative impact with the Malay ground.
The controversy started two weeks ago when Anwar alleged that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s 1 Malaysia campaign mirrored former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak’s One Israel campaign. He also accused Apco of being behind both campaigns.
The Straits Times also reports that Apco was given very specific objectives.
“These included identifying areas in which goals of the Malaysian and US governments were significant and aligned, and to identify officials, think-tanks and news organisations relevant to Malaysia’s ties with the US.”
But that is not all.
Cooper said the firm was “also involved in Malaysian government initiatives in such critical areas as creating jobs and economic reform.”
There has also been widespread speculation that Apco was paid in excess of RM20 million.


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