PKR claims APCO pressured over One Israel

By  Shazwan Mustafa Kamal, The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 23 — PKR has suggested the Najib administration pressured its public relations consultancy APCO Worldwide to deny its involvement in Ehud Barak’s One Israel campaign.

The opposition party also questioned the validity of Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz’s “proof” of two documents containing denials from APCO and an American political consultant over the consultancy’s involvement in the One Israel campaign.

The de facto law minister yesterday showed evidence which he said proved Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was lying when he accused APCO Worldwide of being behind both the 1 Malaysia and One Israel campaigns.

The first was a letter from APCO that had formed the basis for the opposition de facto leader’s suspension from Parliament.

The second was a notarised sworn statement by Robert Shrum, the political consultant who helped create the One Israel coalition for Barak’s 1999 election campaign.

Both letters denied that APCO had anything to do with One Israel.

“Is it not impossible for the government to get APCO, which has been paid RM77 million, to come out with denials of being involved in the One Israel campaign? And why the late response?

‘‘Anwar has brought up the issue of APCO-One Israel way back in March. It’s been eight months. Eight months is a long time which could have been used to answer Anwar’s claims.

“If the matter of refuting the Najib administration’s links with One Israel is so urgent, why wait until only December to get Mr Robert Shrum’s letter?” said PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution.

APCO’s letter, dated August 19, stated that the public relations consultancy was hired by the Najib administration to “provide communications support” only and had nothing to do with either campaign.

It explained that APCO had only worked for the Israeli government twice before, once to help set up a two-day trade conference in Washington, DC in 1987, and again in 1992 when it carried out public relations work to strengthen trade between the US and Israel.

“APCO’s work for the government of Israel was among the company’s smallest, and briefest, governmental engagements, involving just two activities, each of which took place many years ago,” the letter by APCO Europe, Middle East and Africa chief executive Brad Staples said.

Staples also said APCO’s International Advisory Council (IAC) was formed to seek advice from former senior government officials, business leaders and non-governmental organisations the world over and had no control over the company.

He stressed that the three former Israeli government officials on the IAC — out of a total of more than 50 members from 15 countries — had not done any work for Malaysia and had nothing to do with APCO’s Malaysian contract.

Staples’ letter further stated that APCO’s interest in “independent” security company ASERO was purely as an investor.