Local papers ‘ignore’ DoJ action against 1MDB-linked assets

1mdb-skandalPETALING JAYA: Local newspapers have ignored stories on the US Department of Justice’s (DoJ) civil suit to seize assets linked to 1MDB, in their print versions.

A check by FMT revealed that all Bahasa Malaysia (BM) and English mainstream dailies did not report on the matter, despite a foreign news wire sending out the report before 8pm last night.

Umno-owned New Straits Times front-paged a story on vaccination while MCA’s The Star, and The Malay Mail chose to go with a story on the possible snap elections in Penang, as did BM daily, Utusan Malaysia.

The only daily which reported the news was vernacular publication, China Press – albeit on the fifth page.

However, the online portals of some of the dailies carried newswire reports on the initial US DoJ announcement, as well as follow-up statements by 1MDB and Umno ministers on the matter. These were all in the World or Business sections, and not under the Malaysian news section, despite 1MDB’s relevance as a hot news item in the country.

The statements released by opposition party leaders in response to the DoJ’s action were not given any coverage in online news portals of the mainstream media.

Former Information Minister Zainuddin Maidin said he was not surprised that most of the mainstream media did not report on the actions taken by the US’ DoJ.

“It’s a norm. No suprises here and it has become a tradition,” he told FMT, adding that he refuses to read the newspapers as it carries propaganda.

mustafa-kamilMeanwhile, NST’s former group editor Mustapha Kamil commented on his Facebook that mainstream media editors “have missed a very big story yesterday”.

“Your international counterparts have ‘scooped’ you right under your noses. How are you to face, first your reporters, your advertisers and ultimately, the public?

“Who is lying now? The way I look at it, the mainstream media institution has been destroyed. Its all over boys. This is a good time to compose your resignation letters,” he said.

The US DoJ filed lawsuits yesterday, saying that over US$3.5 billion was misappropriated from 1MDB, over a period of four years and by multiple individuals, including Malaysian officials and their associates.

In its lawsuits, filed in Los Angeles, US DoJ said it sought to seize assets “involved in and traceable to an international conspiracy to launder money misappropriated from 1MDB”.

It specifically named Riza Aziz, who is Najib’s stepson, Jho Low, and Abu Dhabi government officials Khadem al-Qubaisi and Mohamed Ahmed Badawy Al-Husseiny.

The DoJ’s seizure of more than US$1 billion worth of assets, the single largest seizure in US history, was expected to include properties and other assets purchased with money allegedly misappropriated from 1MDB.