Malaysian parliamentarian and political secretary to the minister of finance, Tony Pua, has blasted Singapore national broadsheet, The Straits Times, in a strongly worded statement to the Malaysian press.
Slamming Singapore Press Holdings’ flagship English newspaper for “persistent misreporting” on the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal, Pua pointed out several examples in the last two years where he feels The Straits Times has displayed “shocking levels of quality control for the paper which prides itself with straightjacket reporting”.
Pua first took issue with a 7 Oct report, in which ST reported:
“A milestone interest payment for a huge debt owed to Abu Dhabi that falls due in mid-October is presenting Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s new government with its most serious economic challenge yet as it struggles with the aftershocks from the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) scandal.
“The interest charge of US$50.3 million represents the first financial commitment that the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition government must honour over the 1MDB affair since coming to power after the general election in May.”
“A full settlement of the milestone payment before the deadline on Oct 15 would amount to an explicit recognition on the part of Tun Dr Mahathir’s new administration that it recognises the liabilities and commitments it inherited from the previous government on all 1MDB-related matters. That in turn, would set a dangerous precedent, which other creditors of the scandal-plagued sovereign fund are likely to seize upon when demanding the settlement of debts.”
Pua called out ST on several points where the paper “got it so wrong” in this report. First, he noted that the October interest payment is not the first time Mahathir’s administration has faced 1MDB bonds – in its report, ST had categorised the payment as a “milestone economic challenge”.
Pua further asked what “dangerous precedent” ST is referring to, asserting that “making current payments does not in any way mean that we concede to our fight against those who have defrauded 1MDB and the Malaysian government. Both the Finance and Prime Ministers have previously highlighted that we will pursue all legal claims against those who are complicit in the heist against Malaysians, including but not limited to the investment bankers and individual culprits.”
The politician also asked who are the “mysterious “two senior Malaysian government officials, who report directly to Dr Mahathir on 1MDB related matters”, who purported squeaked to ST that “Kuala Lumpur is inclined to renege on the interest payment”?” He jibed, “Surely, ST can get better sources for its stories.”
Pua said that the Malaysian Government initially did not make an official response to the report riddled with misconceptions since they “didn’t have a bone to pick against the Singapore paper” – that is until ST published another report on 14 Oct by the same journalist entitled, “Malaysia’s 1MDB Debt to Abu Dhabi may have Ballooned”.
Pointing out that he has “checked and double-checked the IPIC [International Petroleum Investment Corporation] statement” and that the statement “doesn’t say that 1MDB owed US$6.89 billion in debts to IPIC or Mudabala [the Abu Dhabi company’s parent organisation]” unlike what ST claims.
Asserting that he is “stunned by the ST reporting standards when both the writer and its editors failed to read and understand the legal-financial statement by IPIC,” Pua added: “At the very least, they should have obtained legal or financial advice from those who did. Or alternatively, they could have contacted the Malaysian Ministry of Finance for clarifications.”
Pua proceeded to point out that this is not the first time ST has “misreported” on the 1MDB scandal and shared several examples where this has happened:
“What I’m particularly curious about however, is the fact that the above aren’t the first time the ST has misreported. ST wrote that “Malaysians are shrugging off the 1MDB scandal” on 28 April. It was ST who broke the story on 9 May 2017 that “Datuk Seri Najib Razak has all but tied up the deal with Dalian Wanda” on the sale of Bandar Malaysia – which turned turkey because the then Malaysian Prime Minister didn’t even walk away with a perfunctory Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Wanda.
“ST even reported in April 2017 that 1MDB would sign a settlement with IPIC with the former will make payments the latter with “most of the money would come from the sale of ‘fund units’ from 1MDB subsidiary Brazen Sky to an undisclosed buyer”. We know of course that this is poppycock because the Brazen Sky ‘fund units’ was nothing but a fraudulent investment vehicle.”
The Damansara MP asked: “So, what’s up with The Singapore Straits Times on its persistent misreporting on 1MDB?”
Read his full statement on Malaysia’s Astro Awani.Follow us on Social Media
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