KUALA LUMPUR, March 30 — Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (picture) caused a stir in Parliament today when he claimed that APCO’s links with the Najib administration started well before the 1 Malaysia concept.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had previously stated that APCO’s engagement came after the inception of 1 Malaysia.
Today, Anwar said that leading figures within APCO were already working for the government under the company Mind Team Sdn Bhd.
“Before APCO existed in Kuala Lumpur, the government had appointed Mind Team Sdn Bhd. This company, which had offices in KL, was led by key individuals who are also senior personnel within APCO.”
Paul Stadlen, who was the director of Mind Team, is now the CEO of APCO based in Kuala Lumpur and the other person, Margaret Kraus, is CEO of APCO Worldwide.
“Now the CEOs of APCO are key individuals involved in major accounts in Israel,” said Anwar.
The Opposition Leader also told Parliament that he had two documents to back up his claims.
According to Anwar, the first document was an agreement signed by the government on Aug 4, 2007 which authorises APCO to “repair” the government’s image.
“It (the agreement) bears the signature of the press secretary to the prime minister, that is Tengku Datuk Sariffudin Tengku Ahmad, which shows how close APCO is to the prime minister while in normal practice, government agreements are signed by government officers only,” said Anwar.
Besides that, he claimed that the other document provided details of the Israeli government’s agreement with APCO to undertake similar tasks to Malaysia’s agreement. The agreement was dated Jan 9, 1992.
“At the time of the agreement, Ehud Barak was the Chief of General Staff of Israel.
“Both these agreements clearly show the role of APCO as a lobbyist, which would warrant, inter alia, the safeguarding of government secrets made privy to APCO.
“APCO is also involved in the advising of a comprehensive strategic communications programme and must keep confidential all information pertaining to its operations. How can we expect APCO to be forthright about its actual role vis-a-vis 1 Malaysia as well as the various government campaigns?”
Anwar also mentioned another name — Doron Bergerbest-Eilon, former head of the Division of Protection and Security in the Israeli Security Agency with the rank of major-general. He is currently one of the international advisors to APCO.
“Can the PM come forward and tell Parliament in no uncertain terms that neither APCO or any of its affiliates, associates or personalities or individuals or organisations linked with them is involved in the 1 Malaysia project?” asked Anwar.
It is understood that news about APCO’s involvement with the Najib administration first surfaced on July 28, 2009.
Back then, The Malaysian Insider had reported on the undisclosed involvement of APCO in the government. APCO was reported to have been introduced to the PM by his adviser Omar Mustapha, who is a partner in Ethos Consultancy.
Later at a press conference, Anwar continued his campaign against APCO, claiming that the proof was the many “similarities” between 1 Israel and 1 Malaysia.
He alleged that the 1 Israel’s campaign focused a lot on health, and even included a 1 Israel health fund. 1 Malaysia too apparently focuses on health and has a 1 Malaysia fund as well as 1 Malaysia clinic.
“1 Israel’s motto is people first. The only thing different with 1 Malaysia is people first, performance now.”
Anwar rubbished claims by Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin that he himself knew some of the leading figures in APCO personally.
“I don’t know what Rembau is up to. Rembau has been the spokesperson for APCO, it’s a very pertinent question here for me to raise, he read about APCO, and took it upon himself to explain.”
It is understood that Anwar has requested that a royal commission be set up to investigate the matter