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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Apco: Anwar produces documents, exposes shady clients


KUALA LUMPUR, March 30: Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim has produced two documents to show the link between former Israeli leader Ehud Barak's "One-Israel" slogan and prime minister Najib Razak's "1-Malaysia" concept.
The documents are agreements between public relations giant Apco Worldwide and the Malaysian government, and another one between the firm and the Israeli regime when Barak was its military commander.
Both agreements talk about the "1Malaysia" and "One Israel" slogans respectively. In the case of "1Malaysia", the agreement is dated August 4 last year, prior to the concept being launched.
Anwar, who will hand over the documents to Dewan Rakyat speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia, said he found it strange that an agreement involving the government of Malaysia was witnessed by Najib's press secretary Tengku Sharifuddin Ahmad.
"Normally a contract is signed by a government officer," said the former deputy prime minister.
Anwar in his speech in the Dewan Rakyat on March 17 claimed that the 1-Malaysia concept was actually an imitation of the 'One Israel' concept. His revelation came in the wake of persistent attacks by a few BN MPs accusing him of having links Zionist interests. Apco, in a statement a day later, has denied Anwar's claim, saying it was not responsible for the "1Malaysia" slogan.
Following this, Kota Belud MP Abdul Rahman Dahlan urged Anwar to be refered to the parliament's Rights and Privileges Commitee.
Mind Teams
Elaborating further, Anwar said prior to Apco's operation in Malaysia, some of its senior consultants had already been working under Mind Teams Sdn Bhd for the Malaysian government.
Mind Teams director Paul Stadlen is currently Apco's CEO in Malaysia.
“Apco's (worldwide) CEO (Margaret Kraus) is an invidual who is heavily involved with dealings in Israel," added Anwar.
Urging the government to terminate Apco's contract, Anwar called for a royal commission of inquiry to investigate the links with One Israel as it would be disastrous to Malaysia's image in the Muslim world.
Dictators, mafia among clients
Anwar also said firms such as Apco act as image-restoring lobbyists for corrupt and brutal governments.
"How do lobbyists work in Washington? Usually they will arrange for meetings and hold seminars to improve an organisation's image, especially for leaders who are corrupt and have bad human rights record," he said.
Anwar also drew attention to an article in the Times of India, which provided a list of dictators who in the past had formed part of Apco's clientele.
Among them are India's Gujerat state chief minister Narendra Modi (who has been widely held responsible for anti-Muslim riots in 2002), Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha, Kazakhstan's president Nursultan Nazarbayev, and Mikhail Khodorkovsky who is said to have links with the mafia.
Anwar also referred to a 2007 investigative report in Harpers magazine by journalist Ken Silverstein, who disguised himself as a Turkmenistan government official to approach Apco.
"Apco was the first firm I contacted, because it was a natural candidate to represent Turkmenistan: it has experience working not just on behalf of authoritharian regimes in general-the dictatorship of General Sani Abacha in Nigeria, for example, which employed the firm in 1995, the same year it hanged 9 democracy activists," wrote the US journalist.
"Let me ask the prime minister - if this is Apco's reputation, what kind of message does he intend to convey to the people by appointing it as a consultant?" asked Anwar.


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