Malaysian police to probe WSJ over leaked letter: Najib

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said that the central bank governor has made a police report against the Wall Street Journal to investigate the leak of a confidential document.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said that the central bank governor has made a police report against the Wall Street Journal to investigate the leak of a confidential document. PHOTO: REUTERS

Central bank governor has lodged report over letter posted on newspaper's website

KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said yesterday that the central bank governor has made a police report against the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) to investigate the leak of a confidential document.

"They (the police) will have to investigate. Publishing confidential documents under the Official Secrets Act is a very serious action on (its) part," Datuk Seri Najib told reporters after chairing an Umno meeting, as quoted by Reuters.

Earlier yesterday, the American business newspaper released on its website a copy of a letter allegedly from Malaysia's central bank and addressed to Mr Hasan Arifin, the chairman of a parliamentary committee investigating the scandal-hit state fund, 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), Reuters said.

The Governor of Bank Negara Malaysia, Datuk Muhammad Ibrahim, took over on May 1 after its long-serving chief, Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz, retired.

The WSJ report showed the letter to supposedly confirm that Good Star, a company sometimes mentioned in media reports reporting on the 1MDB scandal, was owned by Malaysian tycoon Low Taek Jho, who is better known as Jho Low.

This was in contradiction to the Malaysian government's assertion that Good Star was owned by an early 1MDB joint-venture partner, PetroSaudi International.

'BIASED AGENDA'

In their latest false report... the WSJ alleged that the Prime Minister was not interviewed by Malaysian investigators, claiming this shows that the investigations which cleared the Prime Minister of any wrongdoing were 'undermined by political pressure and a lack of transparency'.

TENGKU SARIFFUDDIN TENGKU AHMAD, press secretary to Mr Najib Razak.

The 1MDB scandal, with billions of dollars allegedly transferred out of the Malaysian fund, is being investigated in several countries including Singapore, Switzerland and the United States. The WSJ is among the media that has been carrying reports on the case.

Earlier yesterday, Mr Najib's press secretary had called for an investigation into why the WSJ was "taking sides in Malaysia's politics and internal affairs".

Tengku Sariffuddin Tengku Ahmad in a statement said some of the reporting by the business paper showed its "biased agenda".

"WSJ has become a willing vehicle for the propaganda of the Prime Minister's political opponents, who have openly declared their intent to unseat the democratically elected government," he wrote.

"In their latest false report... the WSJ alleged that the Prime Minister was not interviewed by Malaysian investigators, claiming this shows that the investigations which cleared the Prime Minister of any wrongdoing were 'undermined by political pressure and a lack of transparency'.

"But it is a matter of public record, and was widely reported by other media at the time, that the Prime Minister was interviewed for multiple hours on 5th December 2015 by the primary investigative body - in this case, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission. The Prime Minister gave his full cooperation to the investigators, and publicly instructed all relevant bodies in the government to do so as well."

He added that the WSJ "not only deliberately ignored these key facts, but lied and said the Prime Minister wasn't interviewed".

Tengku Sarifuddin said the WSJ relied only on anonymous sources and smears by former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad and his allies in the opposition Democratic Action Party in the article.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 28, 2016, with the headline 'Malaysian police to probe WSJ over leaked letter: Najib'. Print Edition | Subscribe