NST Editor quits over truth and 1MDB


June 4, 2016

NST Editor quits over truth and 1MDB

by FMT Reporters

Mustapha Kamil’s explanation highlighted by Kit Siang with challenge to other journalists

Mustapha Kamil’s online posting of why he resigned as group editor of the UMNO-controlled New Straits Times newspaper last month was highlighted by DAP leader Lim Kit Siang today, with an accompanying challenge to other Malaysian journalists.

In the posting, Mustapha (pic above) said he had left after a struggle with his conscience and the journalists’ code to seek the truth.

He said his decision came after the Wall Street Journal was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in April for its reporting on corruption allegations surrounding 1Malaysia Development Bhd – which he descibed indirectly as “an issue that happened right under my nose”.

Mustapha did not refer to the Journal by name, politely describing the financial daily as “an American newspaper, headquartered somewhere in Lower Manhattan in New York”.

His posting was highlighted by Kit Siang at his blog and in a press statement, Lim asked: “Are there no more journalists in the mainstream media in Malaysia to uphold the ‘truth discipline’ or who could search their conscience whether they are doing right by their nation, profession and future generations?”

Lim has been known to lambast Malaysian journalists, particularly editors, working in the politically-controlled press and often demanded that they leave the profession.

Picking up from Mustapha’s note, which has circulated on Facebook, Lim said the 1MDB affair had affected the reputation and standing of institutions such as the Attorney-General’s Chambers, Bank Negara, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, the police, Auditor-General’s Office, the Public Accounts Committee and even Parliament itself.

Mustapha’s resignation was reported in May. Although confirming that he was leaving, he would not speak about his reasons. He ended his 26-year career with NST at the end of May.

Lim reproduced Mustapha’s note verbatim. It said:

“On the morning of April 25th I walked into the CEO’s room with my resignation letter in hand. We sat and talked about my wish for a good one hour where naturally, the CEO enquired why I had wanted to do so.

“The CEO is a chartered accountant, a man who took his job very seriously, one who is adept with numbers and besides heading the company, someone whom I also considered a friend…

“There were two things I related to him that morning. First, just as he, a chartered accountant, would not hesitate to qualify a set of flawed accounts, signing each of them not only by his name, but also by the ethics enshrined within the professional body in which he was a member, I too take journalism ethics seriously.

“In my line of work, there is this element called the ‘truth discipline’. It is one that requires a journalist to be correct, right from the spelling of names of persons or places, to all the reports he must file. His responsibility is first to the truth, by which he must then guide society in navigating the path they had chosen.

“Second, I told him that I had weighed the situation for as long as I could but when an American newspaper, headquartered somewhere in Lower Manhattan in New York, wrote a story that got nominated for the coveted Pullitzer Prize, about an issue that happened right under my nose, I began to seriously search my conscience and asked myself why was I in journalism in the first place.

In my line of work, there is this element called the ‘truth discipline’. It is one that requires a journalist to be correct, right from the spelling of names of persons or places, to all the reports he must file. His responsibility is first to the truth, by which he must then guide society in navigating the path they had chosen.

“Second, I told him that I had weighed the situation for as long as I could but when an American newspaper, headquartered somewhere in Lower Manhattan in New York, wrote a story that got nominated for the coveted Pullitzer Prize, about an issue that happened right under my nose, I began to seriously search my conscience and asked myself why was I in journalism in the first place.

“We had a cordial discussion that morning and the CEO fully understood my predicament and the fact that there was little else that I could do. In my 27 years of being a journalist, I never once subscribed to the saying that if you can’t beat them, join them.

“In this line of work, there is no such thing as the path of least resistance. You have to stick to your principles. Around the world, an average of 110 like us, pay the ultimate price each year to get the true stories out. At the very least, I felt that as a journalist, I had to honour the sacrifices they had made in abiding by the discipline.

I hope that answers everything.”

The Wall Street Journal was nominated for international reporting. However the Pulitzer Prize – the highest annual journalism award in the United States – went to Alissa J Rubin of the New York Times for her moving accounts from Afghanistan about Afghan women “forced to endure unspeakable cruelties”.

The Journal wrote about 1MDB in a series of reports between July and August last year. The prime minister, Najib Razak, and his supporters have accused the Journal of making false accusations and of being used by the anti-Najib campaign to force him out of office.

SEE ALSO:

WSJ gets Pulitzer nomination for ‘masterful’ 1MDB reporting

1MDB: WSJ report on billions missing an outright lie

Tan Sri Robert Kuok on Malaysia


September 30, 2015

Tan Sri Robert Kuok* on Malaysia

Tan Sri Robert KuokTan Sri Robert Kuok–An Extraordinary Man

THERE is a bit of a romantic streak in South-east Asia’s richest man, it seems.

Four decades ago, Tan Sri Robert Kuok decamped Malaysia for Hong Kong. The ostensible reason: lower taxes in Hong Kong. What some say: a fierce dislike of Malaysia’s controversial New Economic Policy favouring the bumiputeras and the resulting cronyism.

Whatever his reasons, Kuok says of the country in which he was born: “I haven’t lost my affection for Malaysia.”

In a telephone interview with The Straits Times on Tuesday, the tycoon elaborated on his donation of RM100mil to build Xiamen University’s first overseas campus in Salak Tinggi, Selangor.

The largess was announced last week during a lunch with Chinese President Xi Jinping when the latter visited Malaysia. “It is a gesture of appreciation. I only wish Malaysia well,” said Kuok.

The magnate is known for being averse to media interviews and had not granted one to the international media for 16 years, barring one to Bloomberg in January this year. He may have marked his 90th birthday on Sunday, but showed little signs of his age except for some impact on his hearing.

Asked about succession plans for his HK$300bil (RM123.8bil) conglomerate Kuok Group, Kuok firmly insisted that it was a “private matter – a family matter, a company matter”.

“I will not poke my nose into other families’ (businesses), and I hope they won’t poke their noses into mine,” he said.

It was an acerbic retort to a recent cover story by Hong Kong’s Chinese-language Next magazine, which speculated that five of Kuok’s eight children were jockeying to take over the helm.

Unlike peers such as Li Ka Shing, Kuok has yet to announce who will head his empire, which includes three listed enterprises – Kerry Properties encompassing the Shangri-La chain of hotels, the SCMP Group which runs the South China Morning Post and Singapore-listed Wilmar International, the world’s biggest processor of palm oil.

Further incurring his ire was the magazine’s allusion to an “open secret” that Kuok – who is twice married – has a third family in Shanghai.

“I (only) wish that journalists who write those articles can find me a third wife!” he said irritably. On whether he would take any legal action against the periodical, he said: “Those are filthy productions, and if you want me to dive into dirty drains (with them), I hope I’m not that stupid.”

Kuok was more forthcoming in talking about the ties that continue to bind him to his home country.

“Our family enjoyed relative success due to the benevolence of the host country where my parents settled,” he said. Immigrants from Fujian, they ran a shop in Johor Baru selling rice, sugar and flour.

When Kuok senior died in 1948, the then 25-year-old Robert established Kuok Brothers with his brother and other family members. Its success would eventually earn him the moniker “Sugar King”.

Kuok, who was educated at Raffles College where he was classmates with Lee Kuan Yew, later moved his base to Singapore. Tracing those years, he said: “We were minnows in the pond, then we entered the lake where we grew to five to 10 pounds.”

By 1960, he was trading sugar and rice with China, skilfully navigating any political turbulence. “Later, the ocean – Hong Kong and China – attracted my attention and so the fish could become even larger,” he said.

His focus today is on China’s economic development, “instead of interfering in the politics of China”, he said, in apparent allusion to critics who say he is too cosy with Beijing leadership.

Staff from the SCMP for instance, have complained that under Kuok ownership, the paper censors stories it thinks the Chinese government would not like.

But, he said, like the giant leather-backed turtles of Terengganu which return to the same sandy beaches every year to lay their eggs, he feels the primal tug of home.

“Roots are roots, except that my other root is the root of my parents – and that is China. I am twin-rooted.” Asked about the sense of discrimination among the Chinese in Malaysia, Kuok demurred, saying: “This will lead only to highly controversial statements, which is not good for anybody. One must never hurt those Chinese who are living in Malaysia, never be the cause of any kind of inter-racial hostility.

“We all feel it, but there may come a day, with the proper platform (do we then talk about it).”What’s most important is the timing.”And the present is not the right time? The man laughed: “Certainly not this morning, to a journalist!” – ANN/Straits Times

Published: Wednesday October 9, 2013 MYT 5:14:00 PM–Still relevant from a self-made man with vision, compassion and superb business acumen

The New Straits Times takes a swipe at Ms. CR.Brown


September 8, 2015

The New Straits Times takes a swipe at Ms.Clare Rewcastle-Brown

by John Berthelsen@www.asiasentinel.com

http://www.asiasentinel.com/politics/malaysia-umno-mouthpiece-attacks-1mdb-critic/

Clare3Malaysia’s New Straits Times, owned by the country’s biggest political party, has launched an all-points broadside against the party’s most biting critic, in a front-page story accusing Clare Rewcastle-Brown of conspiring to “change the destiny of one country” to get rid of Prime Minister Najib Razak and offering to drink champagne when he goes.

According to the story, the NST, which is owned by the United Malays National Organization, obtained three months of WhatsApp conversations between Clare Rewcastle-Brown, the editor of The Sarawak Report,  Tong Kooi Ong and Ho Kay Tat of the Edge Media Group and a Swiss national who obtained thousands of emails from Xavier Andre Justo from PetroSaudi, a Middle-Eastern oil exploration company with close connections to the state-backed 1Malaysia Development Bhd. investment fund,  which has fallen into a river of red ink from what appears to be vast mismanagement and crookedry.

Over the past several months, using Justo’s information and a wide range of other sources, Rewcastle Brown has printed a long series of damaging reports that alleged that Najib and Jho Taek Low, the young tycoon who was instrumental in setting up 1MDB, had spirited hundreds of millions of dollars out of the troubled fund into Jho Low’s own accounts and to other destinations.

Rewcastle-Brown also acknowledges that she played a role in feeding information to help the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times write equally devastating stories about Najib’s family property holdings in the United States and the fact that US$680 million was deposited in Najib’s personal account in AmBank in Kuala Lumpur from unknown sources in 2013.

In what can only be termed a startling reversal of reality, Najib and UMNO have made Rewcastle Brown the focus of a supposed attempt by shadowy foreign interests to wreck what they regard as a “democratically elected” government without identifying the foreign interests, although they have hinted that it could be the Israelis, trying to bring down a Muslim government.  In August, they succeeded in getting Interpol to temporarily issue a red notice that theoretically could have resulted in her arrest and extradition to Malaysia. The director of Interpol quickly put a stop to that, admonishing the Malaysian government indirectly for its action.

The de facto Prime MinisterAt the same time, people they have dismissed who apparently were drawing close to indicting him have included the deputy prime minister, the attorney general, the head of the police special branch intelligence unit, moved several members of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission to neutralize them – one of whom told reporters on Sept. 7 that the Prime Minister’s Rosmah Mansor, was present at the meeting when he was told he would be moved. An investigation by the Public Accounts Committee of the Parliament was short-stopped when several of its members were moved into the cabinet.

They have sought to keep the lid on via the state-owned press and suspended two newspapers of The Edge Group for three months after the newspapers printed detailed stories with documents showing the transfer of monies out of the 1MDB accounts. They have threatened opposition members and political reformers with charges of sedition.

Rewcastle Brown responded with a blast of her own, saying that “If the New Straits Times have been reading my WhatsApp messages to Xavier Justo they will know quite a lot of things, but not much new. They will know, for example that I do indeed think that the Prime Minister of Malaysia is managing a dangerous criminal regime, which has stolen billions from the public and then used some of it to buy an election win.” 

She accused the Kuala Lumpur-based daily of having “performed a classic job of selectively editing and distorting quotes in order to try and do a hatchet job on me. The problem is that I am not the person who has committed a crime. The people they are trying to protect by attacking me have committed the crime.”

She reserved her right to sue the newspaper over selective editing and other distortions of her conversations with Justo and the others.

In the WhatsApp messages, according to the NST, was one in which told Justo that she was changing the “destiny of one country” and that she would celebrate with a glass of champagne when “Najib is done,” to which Rewcastle-Brown responded that “as for their other front page allegation that I would toast Najib’s departure from government, I am happy to confirm that I will celebrate if Najib at last proves himself a gentleman and admits he no longer has the authority and credibility needed to govern his disillusioned party and country. This is because I am a journalist who has exposed many crimes under his watch, not because I am being paid as part of some ill-defined conspiracy to criticize an innocent man!”

Much of the story centered around Justo’s efforts, before he was arrested in Thailand, to obtain up to US$2 million from the Edge’s Tong and Ho in exchange for the documents. The story alleged that Rewcastle-Brown said she would help Justo raise and, then, launder the US$2 million. She first attempted to use SJS Ltd. in Singapore to channel the funds, working with her brother, SJS director Patrick Rewcastle.

On March 19, the NST said, she confirmed the commission for the transfer, stating: “The guy wants to charge my brother €67,000. I am sure he will do without cheating.” She later offered the Swiss Bruno Manser Fund as a channel for the US$2 million, writing on April 22: “He can pay Bruno Manser Fund if he likes.” She finally agreed to sell a stake in Sarawak Report to pay Justo.

Tong and Ho in July issued a statement saying they had misled Justo, telling him they would pay for the information and then reneging once they got their hands on the data because of the overriding public interest.

The story is out,” Rewcastle Brown wrote. “Nothing that the NST can say against Sarawak Report or try to make Xavier Justo say from his prison cell makes any difference to the crimes that the world now knows have been committed and which are now being investigated in several countries.”