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Monday, March 29, 2010

APCO: Pakatan warns BN not to defend Najib blindly

Wong Choon Mei   
 KUALA LUMPUR, March 28: Pakatan Rakyat has lashed out at Barisan Nasional parliamentarians for blindly defending Prime Minister Najib Razak, even at the expense of national security and the high possibility of infiltration by secret forces aligned to countries such as Israel and Singapore.

“I would like to invite my friends from the other side to think harder, and look harder. In fact, it does not require a lot of effort to find out the connection between APCO and Israel,” Tian Chua, the MP for Batu, said in anexplosive statement released to the press over the weekend.

"Our concern is more than just wasting tax payers’ money on all those glitzy advertisements, billboards, songs, concerts, essay-writing competitions etc. We must address the core issue; how secure can the country be when we voluntarily expose all governmental functionaries to a private firm with a strong foreign interest?"

Naivete in the world of international espionage

Indeed, the growing emergence of APCO and its alleged shadowy links to top intelligence and secret services run by the Israeli, United States and Singapore governments have shocked many Malaysians.

Before, most had thought APCO was just another top communications firm hired by Najib to conceptualize and develop his 1Malaysia slogan. But a comment made by Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim in Parliament last week about the agency’s Zionist roots and the ensuing ruckus kicked up by Najib’s cohorts have sparked a closer look.

Indeed the BN’s over-reaction has made ordinary Malaysians wonder if Anwar had hit bulls-eye. Led by Minister in the PM’s Department Nazri Aziz, BN lawmakers have even fixed Tuesday to refer Anwar to the parliamentary privileges committee. Given that this committee is dominated by Najib’s men, the chances are high that Anwar will be suspended.

“The bias is certainly there. It cannot be denied and we are worried. Not only because of another injustice to shut Anwar up but also because this time, there may be danger to our country,” PAS vice president Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man told Harakahdaily.

“But the BN MPs are not even looking at that possibility, even though it is their direct responsibility as elected representatives of the people. It seems they only care about covering up for Najib.”

Doron, ASPERO and homeland security

According to Tian, who is also the PKR strategic director, APCO’s topmost international advisory council comprised many leading figures with direct and indirect links to the Israeli and U.S. secret services.

These include APCO Chief Executive Officer Gad Ben-Ari, a personal adviser of the late Israeli PM Yishak Rabin, Carl Truscott, a high-ranking but tainted public servant under the U.S. Bush Administration, and most startlingly, Doron Bergerbest-Eilon, the former security chief for the Israeli government.

Tian pointed out that Doron had held a position equivalent to the rank of major-general in the Israeli Security Agency (ISA) and his dedication to his country’s secret service has even earned him a prestigious Director’s Recognition Award by the U.S. Secret Service.

But what was really worrisome for Malaysians was that Doron is also the founder and president of APCO’s sister company ASERO Worldwide, a homeland security and risk management consultancy. According to Tian, APCO’s involvement in various intelligence and security-related projects was actually done through ASERO.

The PKR leader also revealed the direct involvement of APCO and ASERO in two of Israel’s most sensitive and top security deals. In 2006, the two firms introduced Transportation Security Administration Israel and helped develop Israel’s airport security system - the Suspect Detection System. The TSA itself was designed by John Magaw, another APCO leading consultant, who also used to serve as director of the U.S. Secret Service.

“The relationship between Israel and APCO is more than merely having an office in Tel Aviv. APCO’s activities in the Zionist state go beyond the civilian sectors.," Tian said.

"ASERO advises Israeli military and civilian agencies on strategic and tactical security challenges and provides assistance to both governments and corporations to prepare, mitigate and recover from threats of terrorism and other hazard.

“ASERO’s staff is filled with recruits from Israel Security Agency (also known as Shabak or Shin Bet) and the infamous Mossad. As we all know, these agencies’ standard operation procedures in counter-terrorism include torturing suspects, assassinations, etc.”

The Singapore link

Closer to home, Tian said it is no secret that Singapore and Israel have co-operated extensively in the fields of defense and intelligence. In fact, both ASERO and APCO provide consultancy services on homeland security to the Singapore government.

“ASERO, in particular, assists Singapore with technical and intelligence services in aviation and aerospace security. Their services and expertise have facilitated the rapid transfer of Israeli military and security technologies to Singapore,” Tian said.

“The two companies are also involved in promoting Israeli participation in long-term research and cooperation in strategic fields that have security or military implications. One such institution is the Singapore-Israel Industrial R&D Foundation (SIIRD) established in 1997.”

In the quest for academic exchange, ASERO has joined the the Singapore-based Centre of Behavioral Science, whose strategic partners include major state-linked homeland and military security systems firms, Tian also revealed.

The stated objective of CBS is to serve as a “platform for the transfer and exchange of leading-edge knowledge and ideas that contribute to the transformation of the life of individuals, organizations and society at large”.

Counter-terrorism and Malaysian sovereignty

Tian also alleged that in recent years, ASERO has actively participated in many counter-terrorism activities.

He urged the Umno-BN government to be careful of the dangers posed by influential global firms such as APCO and ASPERO, whether directly or indirectly, reiterating that while Malaysia was not at all anti-Jewish, it stood on the opposite side of the Zionist movement as far as its current foreign policy was concerned.

"Against this background, there are ample of reasons for patriotic Malaysians to question the wisdom of engaging APCO. There is no doubt that APCO does not share the vision and objective of our nation-building. It is not surprising that 1-Malaysia has not been resonating well in our local context," Tian charged.

“In its work, APCO has been given access to many highly sensitive government materials which I believe even most Malaysians are denied access to. It would be absolutely naïve for us to believe that APCO will handle our state secrets ‘professionally’, especially when we run into conflict with global powers.

“I hope legislators and leaders of BN would pay some attention to this serious issue. If you are truly patriotic, stand up now. Please do not surrender the fate of Malaysia into the hands of foreign powers.”

(Wong Choon Mei is the Consultant Editor for Harakahdaily - English Edition)


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