KUALA LUMPUR, July 26 : Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman today castigated The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) for taking sides in Malaysian politics.
In an open letter to WSJ today, Anifah said the American publication had made its biasses clear when on Thursday it published a commentary by PKR de-facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim which was highly critical of the government.
He pointed out that WSJ had gave Anwar the platform to raise false and politically motivated allegations of corruption against Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak but failed to mention that the former deputy prime minister was himself convicted of corruption in 1999 of which the verdict was not overturned.
“The Wall Street Journal takes aim at Malaysia, but once again displays a woeful lack of knowledge and understanding of our country and its history,” he said.
WSJ is currently entangled in a probe by the authorities following its report which alleged that a huge sum of money from companies linked to state’s strategic investment company 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) had been channeled into Najib’s personal accounts.
Refuting the myriad of accusations against the government in the Anwar’s commentary, Anifah pointed out that Malaysia has been a democracy since its independence in 1957 and that elections were fiercely contested, and the opposition had in fact won five out of the country’s 13 states in 2008.
“Political discourse is vibrant and noisy. The “voices of dissent” that the opposition’s former leader, Anwar Ibrahim, claims not to be able to hear are dominant in Malaysia’s online news media, which has far more readers here than the print press. If anyone doubts Malaysians’ “fundamental liberties”, they can easily see for themselves how free anyone is to criticise the government on these news sites,” said Anifah.
He also hit out at Anwar for criticising the Prevention of Terrorism Act as being an encroachment of fundamental liberties but failed to mention that it explicitly states that, “No person shall be arrested and detained solely for his political belief or political activity”.
“POTA in fact further secures the liberties of Malaysians: both their freedom to speak out, and their freedom from extremists who pose a real threat to the country. Anwar may not take this threat seriously, but the Malaysian government does,” he added.
Anifah also pointed out that Anwar was only convicted of sodomy and currently in jail after a lengthy legal process that lasted for years.
He said Anwar was first acquitted, then convicted, allowed to appeal, and only when that failed did he go to prison.
“If he truly believed in his innocence, he could have submitted his own DNA to the court. If the charge had been “trumped up”, as the WSJ falsely says, that would have proven it. But he did not – hardly the action of an innocent man” he added.
On Anwar’s accusation that the Najib’s administration is “sowing communal and religious animosity”, Anifah said the 1Malaysia policy being promoted by the government is the greatest attempt in the country’s history to forge a national identity that includes all races and religions.
“Anwar and the opposition, however, never supported 1Malaysia. Why not? Was it because Anwar himself had a well-documented history of rabble-rousing and extremism, as well as of spouting anti-Semitic remarks – as the WSJ well knows but again fails to mention,” he added.
As for the suggestion that Malaysia is in danger of becoming a “failed state”, Anifah said that only recently had Bloomberg rated Malaysia as the world’s 5th most promising emerging market this year while International Monetary Fund’s latest report on the country was titled: “Favorable Prospects for Malaysia’s Diversified Economy”
He also pointed out that the ratings agency Fitch recently upgraded the outlook for Malaysia.
“This is the truth about Malaysia today. It is a pity that the WSJ has fallen for desperate, unfounded allegations by a politician and presented them as facts – thereby taking sides in internal Malaysian politics,” Anifah said.