Malaysia’s image is taking a beating from the BBC’s global apology says A Kadir Jasin, former chief editor of New Straits Times Press. He questioned whether the government had been wise to spend taxpayers’ money on expensive foreign consultants. The BBC apologised for running eight programmes produced by UK-based publicity consultants FBC Media which was working for the Malaysian government.
Besides FBC Media, the Malaysian government has previously admitted using APCO International, one of the largest lobbying firms in the US, with a contract worth RM27mil for image-building work.
Kadir questions need for expensive outsiders
That the BBC had been duped into airing the programmes, is its problem. The British broadcaster is paying the price for its oversight.
What should concern us is that taxpayers’ money paid to FBC Media. Its unprofessional conduct has caused our country shame. Instead of benefiting from FBC costly handiwork, Malaysia’s image has instead been further damaged.
The question is: How could our government (and its agencies) have made such a mistake when we know that teams upon teams of “high-powered” media professionals have been employed by Putrajaya since Prime Minister Mohd Najib took over in 2009?
Did they not know who or what FBC Media is? To have their “global strategic communications” contractor caught red-handed and with its pants down, does not speak well of the government’s media teams and personalities.
Perhaps this is the problem and outcome of being too dependent on outside advisers and consultants, and not being hands-on enough.
» Malaysia’s Image Tarnished In BBC’s Apology
In November, law minister Nazri Aziz defended FBC Media. He told Parliament the government paid the company 20 million euros (about RM90mil) from 2007 to 2000 to repair the country’s image and said western leaders had since become more receptive of Najib Tun Razak. Nazri accused opposition politicians of disparaging the country. “If they do not bad mouth the government by feeding lies to the international media, we do not have to pay any money to repair our image,” he said.
Nazri’s explanation ignored the fact that Najib’s image problem was because he was then linked to the Altantuya Shaariibuu murder, and allegations made that he had an affair with the woman, a translater from Mongolia who helped a Najib associate, Razak Baginda, in negotiations for Malaysia’s purchase of two French-made submarines. Razak’s firm was reported to have been paid RM250mil in commissions.
Nazri also said FBC Media did not commit any criminal offence, even though they were being investigated for ethics violations by broadcasters. Nazri: Govt paid FBC Media to repair image abroad (Star Online) West warmer towards Najib (Free Malaysia Today)
The Sarawak Report web site, which has carried a detailed series of reports on FBC Media’s involvement in Malaysia’s image-building, has said the company also worked to improve the image of Sarawak chief minister Taib Mahmud, and had engaged a Conservative politician as a spokesman for Sime Darby, which it described as an FBC client.
- BBC to issue global apology for documentaries that broke rules (independent.co.uk)
- Hiring of FBC Media broke no laws ? (hornbillunleashed.wordpress.com)
- Scandal-hit FBC Media now faces bankruptcy (hornbillunleashed.wordpress.com)
- APCO to FBC to Tony Blair: What the heck is Najib doing wasting so much money? (hornbillunleashed.wordpress.com)
- Malaysia’s Prime Minister loses most from Anwar Trial (dinmerican.wordpress.com)
- Will Obama’s govt stand by Malaysian democracy? (uppercaise.wordpress.com)