Anwar: APCO row over accountability, not 1 Malaysia

By The Malaysian Insider

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim hit back today at the Najib administration over the APCO affair, saying the main issue was about accountability and due process in hiring the publicity strategist and not 1 Malaysia.

The opposition leader has been suspended for six months from Parliament for linking Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s 1 Malaysia campaign to the One Israel concept via APCO Worldwide. The prime minister has denied the link, saying 1 Malaysia is his own creation.

The PKR de facto leader said APCO’s involvement in the Najib administration was “clearest proof of Umno/Barisan Nasional’s hypocrisy”, and accused the latter of hiring a company that was “known for its strong link with the Israeli intelligence and political establishment” for communication work

“Therefore, the bulk of my contention when I first raised this issue in Dewan Rakyat was directed at the prime minister’s hypocrisy and carelessness in hiring a firm with a track record such as APCO’s,” Anwar said in a statement released this morning.

He added that Pakatan Rakyat (PR) MPs were entitled to ask the government to reveal “the extent of APCO’s involvement in the formulation of policies and messaging under the current prime minister”.

The Permatang Pauh MP also claimed there were “numerous records available publicly to substantiate APCO’s unhealthy track record of working for regimes with penchant for stifling human rights and democratic space” and referred to articles written by Batu MP Chua Tian Chang.

“Thus, the issue was never about the simplistic question of who came up with 1 Malaysia. It is about holding the government of the day accountable for its haphazard behaviour in spending the public money (to the tune of RM77 million for one year’s service) to hire a firm for its own image building.

“More importantly, it is about the lack of responsibility of a prime minister in ignoring APCO’s track record and potential security risks posed by the latter,” he added.

Anwar has attacked Umno and BN for not engaging PR on the issues, and charged the ruling coalition with going “on an overkill drive from the beginning which culminated in the suspension of four members of Dewan Rakyat recently.

“It trampled on every known ethics and norms including the natural process of allowing an accused to present and argue his case before a fair and just panel,” he said, referring to the rights panel decision to deny his right to be heard.