PETALING JAYA: A letter purportedly written by the top intelligence officer under the previous Najib Razak administration to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) pitched the former prime minister as a US ally with whom Washington could work with, as opposed to the “anti-West, anti-Semite” Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Najib has distanced himself from the alleged letter, saying he was not aware that such a letter had been sent.
A copy of the alleged letter, sighted by FMT, among others, promoted Najib’s “progressive foreign policies”, saying Malaysia was a crucial ally and the only viable one in the Southeast Asian region as the others were either too small, too pro-China or “too immersed in their own domestic political problems”.
“Your Excellency must be well informed that Mahathir, essentially, is not a reformer that could enhance Malaysia’s national interest as he joined the opposition for his own self-interest,” said the letter to Gina Haspel, director of the CIA.
The letter was allegedly written on behalf of the “Malaysian External Intelligence Organization (MEIO)” and signed by Hasanah Ab Hamid, who also leads a unit under the Research Division of the Prime Minister’s Department.
The following is what is said to be the full text of the letter, written on May 4, 2018 just a week before the general election which ended Barisan Nasional’s decades-old hold on power.
Office of the Director General
Prime Minister’s Department
Ms. Gina Haspel
Central Intelligence Agency United States of America
Dear Gina, hope you are well.
It is an honor to have this opportunity to greet Your Excellency and I hope that Your Excellency will always be in good health.
Foremost, on behalf of the Malaysian External Intelligence Organization (MEIO), I would like to congratulate Your Excellency on your recent appointment as the Director (Designate) of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
I also would like to take this opportunity to briefly inform Your Excellency on the upcoming general election in Malaysia on 9 May 2018. Indeed, as Your Excellency is well aware it could turn out to be the most tightly contested general election in Malaysia’s history. Opposition parties, with the exception of the PAS party, have come together into a fragile coalition, Pakatan Harapan, and chose the 93 year old former Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohammad, to lead them into the general election. Mahathir in the past, has been anti-West, anti-semite, autocratic, silenced dissent through force, and totally disregarded human rights and the rule of law. It was during his tenure that the Internal Security Act (ISA) was heavily abused for his own political agenda and allowed him to rule Malaysia more than two decades.
4. The four parties that make up Pakatan Harapan, namely Parti Keadilan Rakyat, Democratic Action Party, Parti Amanah Negara and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, have not presented concrete and viable proposals in their manifesto regarding Malaysia’s foreign policies which could undermine bilateral relations between both our two countries as well as destabilizing further the security situation in Southeast Asia. Furthermore the manifesto does not reflect the ability of the coalition to understand and manage the geostrategic threats facing the world, much less work with the US to address these challenges. This has created concerns among security agencies in Malaysia and the region.
5. On the other hand, the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition, under the leadership of Prime Minister Najib, which had administered Malaysia over the last 9 years, has a proven track record of not only practicing sound and progressive foreign policies, but also greatly contributing to enhancing regional security through a very active involvement in promoting peace and stability in the region. Unlike Mahathir, Prime Minister Najib is known to be a strong US ally and would continue to support US presence in the region. Without Prime Minister Najib in charge of the country, the US stands to lose a reliable partner in Southeast Asia given that the Philippines has broken away from Washington, Singapore and Brunei being too small to make an impact and Thailand as well as Indonesia too immersed in their own domestic political problems. Meanwhile the Indo-China countries except for Vietnam are too inclined towards China.
6. As Your Excellency is aware, under Prime Minister Najib, Malaysia continues to be more actively involved to end the decades-long armed conflict in southern Philippines and southern Thailand. Recently. through ASEAN and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (O1C), Malaysia had assumed a leading role in finding a solution to the Rohingya crisis, which could potentially become a new source of terrorism threat in the region. Prime Minister Najib has also established a fully equipped field hospital run by the Ministry of Defence in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh to cater for the needs of more than 700,000 Rohingya refugees.
7. In the efforts to counter the threat of terrorism. Malaysia is proud to be a partner of the US, where Washington had chosen Kuala Lumpur as the location of the US-sponsored Southeast Asia Regional Centre for Counter-Terrorism (SEARCCT) and Regional Digital Counter-Messaging Communications Centre (RDCCC). In addition, MEIO has been the chair of the AIC-CTC since it was launched by Prime Minister Najib in December 2016. AIC-CTC together with five partners including your own esteemed service are closely cooperating in counter-terrorism efforts.
8. Since Prime Minister Najib took over the country’s leadership, Malaysia has been internationally recognized as a moderate and progressive Muslim country. The creation of Global Movement of Moderates is the testament to his leadership to promote moderation, peaceful coexistence, respect mutual understanding, the celebration of rich dimension on diversity, and curb extremism globally.
9. With regard to the North Korea nuclear threat, Malaysia had always supported the UNSC resolutions and US maximum pressure approach on Pyongyang. These included the suspension of hiring North Korean workers, downgrading diplomatic ties, and enforcing trade and economic sanctions. Malaysia also welcomes the upcoming US-North Korea summit and is optimistic of a positive outcome that will greatly ease tensions in the Korean peninsula.
10. Malaysia welcomes the US presence in the region especially in the South China Sea to provide balance towards China’s maritime assertiveness. We firmly believe in a rules-based order and freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. Malaysia also values US continuous assistance in upgrading maritime security capability and training as well the intelligence exchanges regarding the South China Sea issue from Your Excellency’s esteemed service.
11. Your Excellency, Prime Minister Najib is expected to win the election adequately to form the next government and since 1959, Malaysia has been using the first-past-the post electoral system as practiced in the United Kingdom and not the proportional representation system. The outcome of the election would be decided by the number of seats won in parliament and not based on popular votes as advocated by the opposition PH. Similar to the outcome of the 2013 general election, PH has already declared victory but also claims that it will be stolen from them simply to undermine the democratic process of the country.
12. We trust Your Excellency would understand the political dynamics of the current election and desperate efforts of the opposition since 1999 to take over the government even through undemocratic means. This includes spreading negative narratives on the political and socio-economic policies especially through online news portals such as Malaysiakini and Sarawak Report. The anti-fake news law was passed recently to mitigate further undermining the country’s progress. Earlier they had established NGOs such as Bersih Global to advocate an Arab Spring like uprising in Malaysia. In 2016, the opposition’s hopes to wrest control of the government seems a bit promising as Mahathir joined them. Ironically, the entire 20 years of opposition ‘reformasi’ movement by Anwar Ibrahim was all about opposing and challenging Mahathir’s tyranny.
13. Your Excellency must be well informed that Mahathir, essentially is not a reformer that could enhance the Malaysia’s national interest as he joined the opposition for his own self-interest. Meanwhile the opposition hopes to use his prowess in politics to defeat Prime Minister Najib’s party.
14. I hope Your Excellency’s esteemed service will be able to report to the Secretary of State, on the complexity of managing this election by Prime Minister Najib and the need to have US support for the present government even if we are to win the election by a simple majority of just one seat. Any indication that the US government would continue to support Prime Minister Najib and his government would definitely strengthen our stability and enhance the existing cordial relationship driven by strong rapport between our two leaders.
15. It is also my earnest hope that the bond of friendship between us too and close cooperation between MEIO and CIA would continue to flourish in the years ahead for the mutual benefit of our two countries.
16. Please accept, Your Excellency, the assurances of my highest esteem and consideration.
Datuk Hasanah Ab Hamid