PH leaders deny working with US think tank to bring down BN

The International Republican Institute (IRI), a Washington-based outfit, claims its efforts in Malaysia finally paid off in GE14. (AFP pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: Pakatan Harapan (PH) leaders have denied the party worked with an organisation heavily linked to senior Republican figures to bring down the Barisan Nasional (BN) government.

This was after the International Republican Institute (IRI), a Washington-based outfit whose board of directors include Republican politicians such as John McCain as well as former National Security advisers and ex-military officers, said its efforts in Malaysia had finally paid off in the 14th general election (GE14), and benefitted the US in terms of its current rivalry with China.

It claimed the cooperation with the then Malaysian opposition, which included Pakatan Harapan, had gone on since 2002.

PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar said it would not be a strange thing for IRI to work together with the then opposition since the outfit also worked with BN and Gerakan.

“I think all the activities we organised and ran were done in a transparent manner. They didn’t just help PH, they also helped BN and Gerakan. The exercises provided by IRI were within the ambit of the law.”

“It is ridiculous to claim we cooperated with IRI to bring down BN in the last general election. Any conspiracy theory must be directed at the letter to CIA,” she said, referring to the letter written by a top intelligence officer under former prime minister Najib Razak, Hasanah Ab Hamid, to her counterpart in the Central Intelligence Agency.

In the letter, Hasanah said that the US was better off with Najib in charge rather than an “anti-semite” and “anti-West” Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The letter had urged for support from Washington in the event of a narrow victory for Barisan Nasional (BN) in the recent polls.

PKR Wanita chief Zuraida Kamaruddin said she had no information about the think-tank’s claim, adding it was not possible that an American think-tank would want to be involved in the country’s general election.

“To my knowledge, IRI is an NGO that organises programmes like motivational courses, briefings and so on. But not for general elections,” she said at the Parliament lobby today.

Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Hannah Yeoh, who is a DAP Wanita leader, also said she was in the dark about the matter.

Meanwhile, Amanah secretary-general Anuar Tahir said it would not be strange for opposition parties to work together with foreign think tanks.

“However, although I have no information about this matter, I feel this would be a strange arrangement. I must admit I was shocked when I read about this.

“We in Malaysia definitely have links with foreign organisations, institutions and foundations, for example, from Germany, Japan and even the United States of America.

“But to work together with specific organisations to bring down the BN government, personally, I know nothing about it,” he said.

At a forum organised by the Center for Strategic & International Studies, last month, IRI president Daniel Twinning said a leader had given him due appreciation for their work.

“I visited and I was sitting there with many of the new leaders of this new government, many of whom were our partners who we’ve been working with for 15 years, and one of the most senior of them who’s now one of the people running the government said to me, ‘Gosh, IRI, you never gave up on us even when we were ready to give up on ourselves’,” he said.

A check on IRI’s website revealed that it was funded by the US State Department and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), an organisation whose declared aim was to “strengthen democratic institutions around the world” including trade unions and free market forces.

Twining had told the forum that Washington had benefitted from the new Malaysian government from the very beginning.