ISSN 2330-717X

Malaysia’s Media Propaganda War – OpEd


The Sarawak Report a couple of days ago released a damming report on the 1MDB scandal, murder of Kevin Morais, and stated that Malaysia’s premier Najib is planning to retreat from office.

According to the Sarawak Report, several sources have indicated that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) report on the 1MDB scandal to Attorney General Mohamad Apandi Ali recommend no less than 37 charges against Premier Najib. Something the MACC has denied.

The Sarawak Report also inferred that Kevin Morais was kidnapped and brutally murdered because he was involved in the original investigation of the 1MDB and ‘political donation’ scandals, and responsible for drawing up charges against Premier Najib on behalf of sacked Attorney General Abdul Gani Patail.

The Sarawak Report went on to say that Premier Najib received much more than RM2.6 Billion into his personal bank accounts. The account by Sarawak Report also stated that most of these funds were not used to fight the last election but rather used for personal affairs, such as shopping trips and credit card payments. According to the Sarawak Report most of these funds were transferred into Najib’s personal accounts in Singapore.

Sarawak Report goes on to say that there were a number of meetings between members of the top echelons of UMNO over the new year break in New York, Tokyo, and Dubai, where the departure of Najib from the Prime Minister’s position was discussed.

The report continued on saying that there were three issues preventing Najib’s immediate departure.

Firstly, there is the issue of succession to Najib. According to the report the current deputy Prime Minister Zahid wants the position, but former deputy Muhuddin Yassin is still deputy president of UMNO and the natural successor.
Secondly, Najib and his wide Rosnah want immunity from prosecution and a ‘royal goodbye’ on departure from office. Many UMNO stalwarts now want to see both of them in jail the report comments.

Thirdly, with international investigations underway about the financial scandals it is very difficult to find a ‘safe haven’ for Najib. According to the Sarawak Report, Turkey has rejected possible asylum, as has most of the Middle East. Kazakhstan is also off the list due to the poor reputation of their in-laws.

The Sarawak Report article goes into some detail about how the upper echelons of UMNO were very dissatisfied with being lied to and are seeking Najib’s removal. This issue has been taken up by both the Asia Sentinel and Malaysian Chronicle which posted a number of articles about how Najib is facing his final days in office.

Enter Malaysia Today, the blog run by Raja Petra kamarudin. Many have claimed that he has changed sides and under the influence of Rosnah, wife of premier Najib. Malaysia Today was once the bastion of news for the opposition in Malaysia until as many claim, the slant changed to defending Najib against his Memphis Tun Dr Mahathir.

However Raja Petra made a number of valid points about Claire Rewcastle Brown and the agenda of Sarawak Report, maybe enough to discredit the ‘bombshell’ released a few days before.

To seek clarity in this propaganda war one must look on the ground.

Yes Malaysia’s Premier Najib has been under siege with the 1MDB and ‘political donation; scandals. His biggest critic has been former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed. However until today, he has not been able to make any dints into the Najib armour.

To date Najib has withstood by various methods and manoeuvres government investigations, the UMNO Annual general meeting, and backlashes from within his own party. He is surrounded by a cadre of loyal ministers. From this perspective, Najib can see things out and maybe even win the next election due in 2018. Other BN components are relatively quiet.

However, the arms of international law are drawing closer, the Malaysian economy is quickly slipping, the people are beginning to suffer in everyday life with rapid increases in the cost of living as the Ringgit is falling drastically. Najib has also needed to repress freedom of speech to maintain his position which is beginning to stretch the system into a position where order could break down. A backlash within the grassroots of UMNO cannot be kept down forever.

So what should we believe today?

If Najib is about to flee from office and be brought down by his own party apparatus, then why is Mukhriz Mahathir, son so former Prime Minister Mahathir under threat by his own party today?

According to reports in the Malaysian Insider, 14 out of 36 UMNO divisions want him replaced as Chief Minister immediately.

Firstly, UMNO is not united against Najib as Sarawak Report, Asia Sentinel and Malaysia Chronicle all suggest.

Secondly, there are perhaps great divisions within UMNO, but even so, Najib still exercises great power within the party organization. Thirdly, Najib’s departure from the Malaysian political scene may not be as fast as is being predicted by some quarters of the media.

What happens within the Malaysian political scene over the next few months will be very interesting.

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Murray Hunter

Murray Hunter has been involved in Asia-Pacific business for the last 30 years as an entrepreneur, consultant, academic, and researcher. As an entrepreneur he was involved in numerous start-ups, developing a lot of patented technology, where one of his enterprises was listed in 1992 as the 5th fastest going company on the BRW/Price Waterhouse Fast100 list in Australia. Murray is now an associate professor at the University Malaysia Perlis, spending a lot of time consulting to Asian governments on community development and village biotechnology, both at the strategic level and “on the ground”. He is also a visiting professor at a number of universities and regular speaker at conferences and workshops in the region. Murray is the author of a number of books, numerous research and conceptual papers in referred journals, and commentator on the issues of entrepreneurship, development, and politics in a number of magazines and online news sites around the world. Murray takes a trans-disciplinary view of issues and events, trying to relate this to the enrichment and empowerment of people in the region.

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