• Zahid twists facts, claims attacks on him are attacks on KDN
• Then accuses journalists of “spinning” to suit political interests
Facing intense political pressure over a letter that he wrote under the KDN letterhead to an alleged gambling kingpin, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has now tried to use Home Ministry staff against journalists in order to save his arse.
At a monthly staff assembly, he claimed that “the home ministry is under attack. Yes we are.”
This is despite the fact that no one in the past weeks has criticised the ministry itself or its civil servents, only Ahmad Zahid and the letter that Zahid wrote, using his ministerial position, to vouch for Paul Phua, who is on trial in the United States for running an illegal World Cup gambling ring.
Zahid, however, tried to turn the criticism as if they were attacks on the ministry.
The minister conveniently twisted the fact that he is the one being criticised, for writing on KDN letterhead, for committing the Malaysian Government into an endorsement of Paul Phua: the FBI, relying on a report from Malaysian police, says he is part of the Hong Kong-based 14K Triad.
There has been no clarity on whether the Cabinet approved or endorsed the letter, or its being sent to the FBI, while Zahid has claimed that he has the authority to issue such a letter. The Foreign Minister has said one thing and Wismaputra another.
What is clear is that the letter was written after Umno’s legal fixit man, lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, approached Zahid on behalf of the US lawyers for Paul Phua. The Royal Malaysia Police has stayed silent on whether, as Shafee repeatedly claimed, the information supplied to the FBI about Phua and 14K was “totally wrong”.
Zahid’s letter, about an alleged gangland member, comes two years after he was reported to have said he was “friends” with Malay underworld groups — after which he made threatening remarks about Malaysiakini, which had exposed his speech in a video.
Zahid, his gang “friends”, and threats to journos
The Paul Phua letter was exposed by the South China Morning Post, which published the full contents as well as an image.
It was the latest of a series of reports — none from the pliant Umno-owned or Umno-controlled media — that exposed Zahid’s doings.
On at least three occasions, in 2013 and 2014, Zahid berated reporters in a clear attempt to intimidate them and their editors.
A Malaysiakini video in 2013 shows him harrassing reporter Laurence Yong who had asked Zahid about RM1.3 million losses in police weapons and other equipment mentioned in the Auditor-General’s Report 2012.
In 2014, another video clip by Malaysiakini shows Zahid apparently speaking favourably about the “Tiga Line” underworld group, one of 49 secret societies listed by the Home Ministry in a supposed crackdown on organised crime. Malaysiakini reported that Ahmad Zahid told mostly Umno members at a government function that Tiga Line were his friends.
Bully boy Zahid threatens journos again
In September 2014, Malaysiakini reporter Susan Loone was arrested by police under the Sedition Act for reporting a politician’s remark about being treated “like a criminal” after his detention during police action against a state-sponsored community service volunteer group which the police claim was infiltrated by secret society members.
Also in September Zahid created a huge row over a report in the Sun, in which he was reported to have commented that non-Malays were arrogant and had demanded that the reporter see him. If the reporter “has the guts”, the reporter would go and see him and explain the article, Zahid said. (The repporter was also alleged to have gone missing after an official from KDN was said to have gone to the Sun’s offices, seeking the reporter, who happened to be off that day.)
He said if the article was not retracted, he would “know what to do” and the Sun later backed down, unnecessarily apologising for an apparent mistranslation from Malay to English.
Now, more threatening words from bully boy Zahid
Now, with his political fortunes being threatened again after media exposure of his activities, Zahid has made more threatening noises about journalists.
In words similar to those he used against Malaysiakini in 2013, Zahid against turned to use of ministry powers against journalists.
In May 2013, he had made similar threats about Malaysiakini: “I will scrutinise every statement, every sentence, every paragraph of Malaysiakini’s news. Don’t play with fire with me.”
What is clear is that Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who obtained a PhD with a thesis on Utusan Malaysia’s influence on the 2013 general elections, wants to throttle Malaysian journalism into the dozy compliance shown by lapdogs in Umno-owned and Umno-controlled media.
He wants Malaysian journalists to forego their professional duty to the citizens of the country and, instead, becoming willing tools of ruling-party politicians by not exposing the racism and misuse of power that exists, or by making excuses for these politicians.
Malaysian journalists must stand up to him, and all others like him.