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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Speaker backpedals on APCO, up to BN MPs to go after Anwar

Wong Choon Mei  

KUALA LUMPUR, March 30: In the face of strong documentary proof tendered by Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim, Deputy Speaker Ronald Kiandee has passed the buck to his fellow BN lawmakers to decide if Anwar should be referred to the parliamentary rights and privileges committee for disciplinary action.

Kiandee had last week given Anwar seven days until Tuesday to give a full explanation on the APCO issue or face disciplinary action for misleading the House with inaccurate information. If the parliamentary committee finds him guilty, Anwar may be suspended from the Parliament.

As such, Kiandee’s decision to backpedal today – saying that it was not for him to decide but for the BN MPs to table a motion if they Anwar punished - was regarded as an early victory by Pakatan Rakyat lawmakers, who have been strongly protesting the perceived unfairness of his previous order.

The deputy Speaker and his colleague Wan Junaidi Jaffar will be put to test again on Wednesday following a retaliatory move by PAS MP for Kubang Kerian Salahuddin Ayub.

Soon after the Umno instigation to get Anwar suspended, Salahuddin had used similar House orders to demand that Prime Minister Najib Razak also be referred to the rights and privileges committee for lying to Parliament over the Kelantan oil royalty issue during the 2010 Budget debate last year.

“We want to test if this is a special rule that applies only to the Opposition Leader and whether other opposition MPs will also be subjected to such whim and fancy later on,” Salahuddin said.

“Justice is at stake in the very highest sanctuary in the country – the Parliament. If Anwar can be censured like this, then why can’t Najib?”

Documentary proof, sinister links

Meanwhile, Anwar bested his opponents in today’s sitting, stunning them by tendering two documents to Kiandee. One was the agreement signed between APCO and the Malaysian government, which was witnessed by Najib’s press secretary Tengku Sharifuddin Tengku Ahmad.

The other was an agreement signed between APCO and the Israeli government under former premier Ehud Barak, who had based his platform around the One Israel slogan.

“An APCO staff was already stationed in Najib’s office when he took power. This was way before 1Malaysia was announced,” Anwar told Parliament. “Therefore, in providing 'communications support' to the Malaysian government, Apco may have worked with Najib on 1Malaysia."

The reform icon also referred to the long list of ex-Israeli government officials including high-ranking secret service officers who made up APCO’s staff and consultants.

As PKR strategic director Tian Chua pointed out these included Doron Bergerbest-Eilon, who heads the Israeli Security Agency; Itamar Rabinovichk, who was formerly with Israeli's internal intelligence organ Shin Bet; and Shimon Stein, a former Israeli ambassador to Germany.

“We are not at all against Jews or are anti-Jewish in anyway. But Malaysia’s current foreign policy is very clear on the issue of Zionism – which is different from the Jewish people,” Tian told Harakahdaily.

“As a Muslim leader of a Muslim-based nation, Najib owes an explanation to the country why he picked APCO without thoroughly checking its background. It would have been so easy to spot the Zionist links.”

News reports have accused Petronas director Omar Mustapha as having introduced APCO to Najib. Omar is part of Najib’s inner circle of advisers and is also a partner in corporate finance firm Ethos Consultancy.

Come clean on the APCO deal and costs

The APCO issue blew up after Anwar in a parliamentary speech linked Najib’s 1Malaysia slogan with Barak’s 1Israel. Led by Nazri Aziz, Minister in the PM’s officer, BN parliamentarians created a huge ruckus, demanding that Anwar be disciplined for lying to the House.

They based their demand on the fact that APCO had denied working on the 1Malaysia slogan.

"It is their strategy to work using associates companies to operate in different countries. It is a part of APCO's duty to protect those who employ them, which include denying their involvement," Anwar said. "It is easy for the Najib administration to ask APCO to draft a statement denying its involvement."

Anwar also demanded that Najib explain to Parliament the APCO contract in detail, failing which he appealed for the establishment of a full-scale Royal Commission of Inquiry. He also urged Najib to come clean on the full cost of engaging APCO and asked that the government terminated the contract.

A sum of RM23 million has been reported to have been paid to APCO as advisory fees but industry sources say the amount is likely to be several times more given the firm's huge international network.

“1 Israel’s motto is people first. The only thing different with 1 Malaysia is people first, performance now. 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 organizations linked with them is involved in the 1 Malaysia project?” asked 


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