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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Najib, Taib dish out another international scandal for Malaysia

Sulaiman Kamal | 4:21 PM | | | | | | | Best Blogger Tips

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If Malaysians thought the yellow-dress snub from Queen Elizabeth and the Scorpenes-Altantuya scandals were bad enough, hold on. Prime Minister Najib Razak is going to outdo himself and plunge the country into another international disgrace.
This time, he will also take down with him some of the world’s most prestigious broadcasting networks, including CNBC, CNN and even BBC World. The fallout can be expected to be noisy and may even rival the phone-hacking scandal of Rupert Murdoch’s News International group in Britain.
In its latest posting,UK-based Sarawak Report spilled the beans on how Najib and other Malaysian leaders such as Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud spent millions of taxpayers' money to buy positive news coverage on the international circuit to improve their image.
Such a practise of slipping in content tantamount to paid-advertisments through the backdoor as independent editorial news is banned under UK and US broadcasting laws.

"As our story hits the headlines CNCB, CNN, BBC World and other carriers of FBC-made programmes will face some serious investigations by their licencing authorities, both in the UK (Ofcom) and in the United States (the Federal Communications Commission)," Clare Rewcastle-Brown, the editor of Sarawak Report, wrote in the posting entitled entitled Taib Paid Out $5 Million To Attack Sarawak Report! – International Expose.
Although, the broadcasting firms ultimately hold the legal responsibility for all the content they put out, make no mistake, no one is going to forget the Malaysian leaders who were so willing to stump out millions of taxpayers' money for an ego trip. Indeed, the Malaysian leaders are likely to be condemned for trying to deceive and lull the world into a false perception of themselves and their country in a bid to continue garnering support for their regimes and business projects.
"Media for hire? Unfortunate that we must confront these practices in international media and domestic media," was Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim's response to the news.
Najib reccomended FBC to Taib
Sarawak Report had exposed FBC Media, a TV production company which doubles as a “strategic communications” firm, for conducting an illicit scam over the past decade, secretly selling slots across a number of supposedly impartial TV news programmes to promote its international clients, including Najib,Taib, former premier Abdullah Badawi and palm oil conglomerate Sime Darby.
"The practice, which is designed to deceive hundreds of millions of TV viewers, has netted the company tens of millions of dollars, providing characters like Taib Mahmud with positive publicity on prime international TV shows.  It is all paid for, of course, by their own taxpayers, whom they are also seeking to dupe and impress," said Clare.
"Our evidence further shows that FBC Media are also linked to the vicious online blogging campaigns in the US which have defamed both Anwar Ibrahim and Sarawak Report over the past months [see Sarawak Reports Dirty Tricks Coverage]."
Proof of link to APCO
FBC Media’s ties with the controversial American PR company APCO are also "clearly proven", added Sarawak Report.  Official disclosure documents to the United States Government show that FBC Media has paid a total of $70,000 to APCO over the past two years to conduct a lobbying campaign in the United States on behalf of the Malaysian Government.
"Such lobbying is clearly just part of the services commissioned from FBC Media by BN’s political leaders. The production/Public Relations company cannot deny that the Malaysian government is also frequently featured across all its programmes," said Clare.
"According to our inside information, Najib suggested that Taib engage FBC Media for a similar campaign after the Chief Minister was seen to have suffered a publicity crisis, following revelations in Sarawak Report about his extensive corruption."
According to Clare, Taib is also paying FBC $5 million (RM15 million) a year to conduct an illegal global media campaign against Sarawak Report.
The reliance on flashy public relations
Indeed, the most glaring feature of Najib's two-year-odd tenure has been his reliance on flashy public relations. He has frequently been accused of being all form and no substance. His ability to ignore facts and reality have alarmed many Malaysians who wondered at 58-year old's 'Jekyll and Hyde responses.
At the Vatican recently, he spouted religious moderation and decried extremism to the Pope. On touching down in Kuala Lumpur, he immediately reverted to religious bigotry with comments that horrified the Christians here. Perhaps it is easier to understand now why his countryment often regard him as the proverbial 'Emperor who wasn't wearing any clothes'.
But sad to say, the joke is actually on the country. It will be Malaysia that will be made a laughing stock of and it will be taxpayers who will have to foot the huge bills. Official recortds show that between 2008-2009, a massive RM57.68 million was paid by the Prime Minister’s office to FBC Media to conduct a ”Global Strategic Communications Campaign” for the Malaysian government; RM29,337,650 was paid out in 2008 and RM28,350,000 in 2009.
A further RM42 million was spent in 2010 on “Public Affairs and Government Services and Strategic Communication, Public Relations and Press Outreach”, according to the latest supplementary budget.
"No denial has been made by FBC Media or the Malaysian government about the contract. Neither have they attempted to deny the sums that are officially registered in the government budget,"said Clare

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