Najib gripes about online media

Malaysian PM Najib Razak speaking at a news conference.
Malaysian PM Najib Razak speaking at a news conference. PHOTO: REUTERS

SHAH ALAM • Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak said he is depressed by online media these days, which focus on speed rather than accurancy in reporting, Malaysiakini news reported him as saying yesterday.

"I am depressed, politicians are depressed because we are easy targets. The print media loses out on circulation and we lose out on votes," he said after a breaking-of-fast event.

His comments were made as government agency Mara is embroiled in a property scandal that is proving to be embarrassing to the Najib administration.

Mara, the Malay acronym for the People's Trust Council, dishes out education bursaries and trains Malays to be entrepreneurs. It suspended two senior officials yesterday after opposition politicians and political activists exposed alleged financial dealings in property purchases in Australia.

The online media had last week quoted Mara chairman Annuar Musa as saying one of the over-inflated purchases was approved by PM Najib as Finance Minister, remarks that the Premier quickly denied as being inaccurate.

SITTING DUCKS

I am depressed, politicians are depressed because we are easy targets.

PRIME MINISTER NAJIB ABDUL RAZAK, on inaccurate media reports

An Australia newspaper had first said Mara overpaid by A$4.75 million (S$4.9 million) when it bought in 2013 a building used

by students in Melbourne. This week, several other purchases made with alleged over-inflated prices were exposed, leading to the suspension of the chairman and chief executive of Mara Inc, the investment arm of Mara, The Star newspaper reported.

Mr Najib yesterday described as an example of bad reporting the quick negative conclusions made when the Tabung Haji pilgrimage fund purchased land owned by state investor 1Malaysia Development Bhd. "News was spread alleging we were using Tabung Haji funds to save 1MDB, even though it was a commercial transaction that would have made Tabung Haji at least RM170 million.

"This is the challenge of the new news environment... The accuracy of the news is second to being the first with the news."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 03, 2015, with the headline 'Najib gripes about online media'. Print Edition | Subscribe