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23 December 2010

PKR claims APCO pressured over One Israel


PKR has suggested the Najib administration pressured its public relations consultancy APCO Worldwide to deny its involvement in Ehud Barak’s One Israel campaign.

The opposition party also questioned the validity of Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz’s “proof” of two documents containing denials from APCO and an American political consultant over the consultancy’s involvement in the One Israel campaign.

The de facto law minister yesterday showed evidence which he said proved Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was lying when he accused APCO Worldwide of being behind both the 1 Malaysia and One Israel campaigns.

The first was a letter from APCO that had formed the basis for the opposition de facto leader’s suspension from Parliament.

The second was a notarised sworn statement by Robert Shrum, the political consultant who helped create the One Israel coalition for Barak’s 1999 election campaign.

Both letters denied that APCO had anything to do with One Israel.

“Is it not impossible for the government to get APCO, which has been paid RM77 million, to come out with denials of being involved in the One Israel campaign? And why the late response?

‘‘Anwar has brought up the issue of APCO-One Israel way back in March. It’s been eight months. Eight months is a long time which could have been used to answer Anwar’s claims.

“If the matter of refuting the Najib administration’s links with One Israel is so urgent, why wait until only December to get Mr Robert Shrum’s letter?” said PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution (picture).

APCO’s letter, dated August 19, stated that the public relations consultancy was hired by the Najib administration to “provide communications support” only and had nothing to do with either campaign.

It explained that APCO had only worked for the Israeli government twice before, once to help set up a two-day trade conference in Washington, DC in 1987, and again in 1992 when it carried out public relations work to strengthen trade between the US and Israel.

“APCO’s work for the government of Israel was among the company’s smallest, and briefest, governmental engagements, involving just two activities, each of which took place many years ago,” the letter by APCO Europe, Middle East and Africa chief executive Brad Staples said.

Staples also said APCO’s International Advisory Council (IAC) was formed to seek advice from former senior government officials, business leaders and non-governmental organisations the world over and had no control over the company.

He stressed that the three former Israeli government officials on the IAC — out of a total of more than 50 members from 15 countries — had not done any work for Malaysia and had nothing to do with APCO’s Malaysian contract.

Staples’ letter further stated that APCO’s interest in “independent” security company ASERO was purely as an investor.

Shrum’s single-page statement, which Nazri received last week, similarly denied that APCO had anything to do with his brainchild campaign.

Nazri had dared Anwar to refute the two documents presented and to show his (Anwar’s) evidence, which the PKR leader has been flogging on the stump since he was given the boot last Sunday.

He also claimed that Anwar had lied about not being given a chance to defend himself in front of Parliament’s Rights and Privileges Committee.

In response, Saifuddin said that Nazri should have presented the “fresh” evidence during the last Parliament session, instead of distributing it via the media.

“Nazri’s challenge to Anwar is academic now, I don’t see the point. Anwar has already been suspended from Parliament. I challenge Nazri, instead of challenging Anwar to produce the documents in Parliament,” Saifuddin told The Malaysian Insider last night.

The Machang MP also rubbished the law minister’s claims about Anwar being given an opportunity to defend himself, insisting that Anwar was denied his rights to do so.

“True, Anwar was allowed to enter his defence, but that was only at the beginning, before Nazri put forward the motion to suspend Anwar.

“What needs to be stressed is that he was never given a chance to defend himself in front of Parliament’s Rights and Privileges Committee,” said the PKR secretary-general.

“If Nazri was serious about this, he should have presented his proof in front of the committee, and let Anwar present his proof too. But that did not happen, did it? Anwar has proof, trust me. He has been wanting to show it since day one,” added Saifuddin.

Anwar was suspended from Parliament for six months on December 16 for claiming that APCO, hired by the Najib administration, had been behind both the 1 Malaysia and One Israel concepts.

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