Najib's press secretary says Wall Street Journal should be investigated

Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak leaves his office at the parliament in Kuala Lumpur, on May 25, 2016.
Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak leaves his office at the parliament in Kuala Lumpur, on May 25, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

KUALA LUMPUR - The press secretary to Prime Minister Najib Razak said in a statement on Friday (May 27) that an investigation should be carried out into why the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) "is taking sides in Malaysia's politics and internal affairs".

The comment by Tengku Sariffuddin Tengku Ahmad was in response to the latest report by the newspaper which alleged that Malaysia's probe into debt-ridden state investor 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) was flawed.

"In their latest false report... the WSJ allege 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 said.

 

"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 Dec 5, 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.

The press secretary said the WSJ "not only deliberately ignored these key facts, but lied and said the Prime Minister wasn't interviewed".

"This shows their biased agenda, and continues the WSJ's consistent pattern with its Malaysia reporting.''

He claimed the WSJ relied only on anonymous sources and smears by former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad and his new allies in the opposition Democratic Action Party (DAP), including Mr Tony Pua, in the article.

" These unverified lies, which they fail to give any evidence for, are then presented as facts by the WSJ. Just like their multiple reports falsely claiming that the Prime Minister had appointed Tan Sri Irwan Serigar Abdullah to be the new Governor of Bank Negara Malaysia,'' he said.

"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".  

In January, Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali cleared Mr Najib of wrongdoing in the 1MDB scandal. He said Mr Najib was not aware that government-owned SRC International, a former 1MDB subsidiary, had transferred RM42 million (S$14 million) into his accounts, and was therefore not guilty of graft.

A parliamentary committee made up of opposition and ruling coalition MPs determined that some US$3.5 billion (S$4.8 billion) was missing from 1MDB after being transferred to an offshore company that has since been shut down.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore this week ordered the closure of BSI Bank's operations over anti-money laundering rule violations, as the bank's Swiss parent faces criminal proceedings in Europe in the probe into 1MDB.