He tells Parliament that Putrajaya had no multi-million-ringgit deal with BBC and PR firm FBC Media.
KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak today denied that his administration had a multi-million-ringgit broadcasting agreement with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and FBC Media Ltd.
“We have never contracted a foreign news company to make ourselves look good,” he said in a written reply to the Dewan Rakyat today.
“The government has never paid money to foreign media companies to prepare news or programmes to heighten its image.”
The bold denial was in response to Mahfuz Omar (PAS-Pokok Sena), who asked whether FBC had reimbursed Malaysia following BBC’s public apology last February for breaking “rules aimed at protecting our editorial integrity”.
Two months before the extraordinary apology, the BBC admitted that there had been 15 breaches of editorial guidelines, eight of them in documentaries about Malaysia that were produced by FBC, a company that has done public relations work for foreign governments, including the regime of Hosni Mubarak during the Egyptian uprising.
Last Nov 2, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohamed Nazri Aziz told Parliament that the government engaged FBC to improve Malaysia’s image, which he said had been damaged by opposition rhetoric.
The BBC said FBC failed to declare that the Malaysian government paid it 17 million British pounds for “global strategic communications”.
Continuing with his reply to Mahfuz, Najib said: “The government, as other foreign governments have done, has taken in foreign talent [to help it with] communications to attract foreign investment and increase tourist arrivals to raise the country’s economic growth.”