Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak yesterday slammed the Malaysiakini online newspaper for running a controversial report that he called part of an ‘obvious smear campaign’ against him.
The story published on Sunday evening purportedly had Datuk Seri Najib saying he would defend Malay rights with his ‘last drop of blood’ and that he would ‘destroy’ those who threaten peace and stability.
The remarks, in a manifesto purportedly from his office, was apparently aimed at undermining the multiracial credentials of Mr Najib.
The manifesto – or campaign platform – was supposedly distributed to drum up support in the ongoing Umno internal elections.
‘The manifesto is a complete fabrication. I said no such thing,’ he wrote on his blog, 1malaysia.com.my, yesterday.
He added: ‘Rest assured that the manifesto neither reflects my thinking nor track record of public service.
‘I repudiate the story, I repudiate the reporting standards, and I repudiate the sheer audacity that Malaysians can be influenced by such an obvious smear campaign.’
Malaysiakini has since said it regretted publishing the article and the journalist who wrote it has resigned. She said that she received the so-called manifesto in an e-mail.
The online news website had on Sunday quoted Mr Najib as allegedly saying in the manifesto: ‘I will defend the supremacy of the Malays until the last drop of my blood if I win the mandate of the delegates to become the next Umno president at the election to be held in March 2009.’
It also quoted him as saying: ‘I will also not hesitate to use all means to destroy elements that can threaten the stability and peace of the country.’
Observers see the e-mail as the latest sabotage effort against Mr Najib, who is set to take over as Premier next March. Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi this month announced that he would step down by March and pass the baton to his deputy. This has sparked a flurry of attacks against Mr Najib.
Two weeks ago, he was accused of sending many text messages to the former lawyer of Razak Baginda, a friend who is accused of abetting the murder of a Mongolian woman, to find out more about the case, which has been going on for over a year.
And then there was an online article about his alleged scandals many years ago. Last week, a picture was published in the same website showing the DPM purportedly taking part in Hindu rituals. Following the publication of the Malaysiakini article, Mr Najib’s office issued a statement on Monday.
It said that since the Umno transition plan was brought forward to March, there has been ‘a consistent and continuous effort by some websites to concoct and publish false and malicious reports aimed at discrediting the Deputy Prime Minister’.
Said Mr Najib on his blog: ‘Why is this lie, among all the others, so upsetting to me? Because this was a more subtle bit of slander.
‘The writer, whoever he or she or they may be, was attributing to me dangerous words to create deep divisions among Malaysians, to tear apart the fabric of the unified Malaysia that I and so many other leaders of BN (Barisan Nasional) have been trying to protect, nourish and celebrate for many years.’
This was the first time that he has reacted to an attack in such strong tones. The deputy premier was seen as an ultra-Malay in the past and it is crucial for him to build on a multiracial image to fend off the opposition, which has pledged to be more multiracial than the ruling BN coalition.
But there seems no end yet to his woes. A police report was lodged yesterday by opposition supporters for alleged corruption. They said they provided the police with evidence of impropriety involving military deals while Mr Najib was the defence minister.
They also claimed to have supplied the police with documents proving the authenticity of the text messages between Mr Najib and the lawyer. ST