KUALA LUMPUR, April 19: If prime minister Najib Razak has been misquoted by the international press over Malaysia's stance on US-led sanctions against Iran, he should sue them and prove his commitment to maintaining good ties with Iran and the Muslim world.
"The people await Najib's move to sue these Western media and drive APCO out of this country to prove his commitment to safeguard Malaysia's cordial ties with Iran and other Muslim countries," said PAS information chief Idris Ahmad, linking Najib's recent meeting with US president Barack Obama to an expensive lobbying campaign by Israeli-linked consultancy firm, Apco Worldwide.
He was responding to Najib's denial of earlier press reports which said that national oil company Petronas had stopped selling gasoline to Iran in a show of support to Washington's campaign to impose economic sanctions against the Islamic republic over its nuclear programme.
Among others, the reports, carried by news agencies such as Reuters and AFP, quoted Najib as confirming that Malaysia had cut off petrol supplies to Iran, and warning Teheran it was close to facing new international sanctions.
In a continuation of the previous Bush administration's policies to isolate Iran, Washington has been leading efforts to toughen sanctions against Tehran over its nuclear programme, which the US and Western allies say was aimed at producing weapons, a charge Tehran has consistently denied. The US efforts have however met with strong opposition from big powers such as China, Russia, Latin-American countries and Turkey. UN security council members Brazil, Turkey and Lebanon, alongside permanent member China, are expected to oppose the next round of sanctions against Iran.
Najib, during a meeting with Obama last week, was reported to have agreed with Washington's campaign to isolate Iran over its nuclear power project. A White House statement had said that Najib agreed with Obama to send Iran a 'clear signal'.
Iran, a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) has repeatedly denied its nuclear programme was for building weapons. On Saturday, its supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei declared that as an Islamic government, it regarded nuclear weapons as 'haram'.
Idris expressed disappointment that Malaysia had now deviated from its outspoken policies defending the Palestinians.
"Malaysia, which has been outspoken in the Palestine and nuclear issues, has now become meek since Najib's takeover.
"Najib should prove his Malaysian identity and continue the country's good ties with Iran and other Muslim countries," he stressed.