PETALING JAYA: The Prime Minister's Department wrote a letter to the United States' Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director Gina Haspel seeking the country's backing for Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak's administration days before the May 9 general election, reported Malaysiakini.
The news portal said it sighted a three-page letter from the Research Division in the Prime Minister's Department, which is supposed to be an intelligence unit, appealing for the United States to support the then-prime minister “even if we win the election by a simple majority or just one seat”.
It asked for Haspel 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”.
“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 the strong rapport between our two leaders,” the letter read.
According to Malaysiakini, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's administration confirmed the authenticity of the letter but declined to comment further.
The letter painted Dr Mahathir as harmful to US interest in the region while lauding Najib as an ally.
“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,” read the letter by the division's director-general Datuk Hasnah Abdul Hamid.
It said Dr Mahathir in the past has been anti-West, anti-Semitic and autocratic, and silenced dissent through force and also displayed a total disregard for human rights and the rule of law.
“It was during his tenure that the Internal Security Act was heavily abused for his own political agenda and allowed him to rule Malaysia for more than two decades.”
On the other hand, the letter touted Najib's “progressive foreign policies” and “contributions to regional security”.
“Unlike Mahathir, Najib is known to be a strong US ally and would continue to support US presence in the region.
“Without Najib in charge of the country, the US stands to lose a reliable partner in South-East Asia, given that the Philippines have (sic) broken away from Washington, Singapore and Brunei being too small to make an impact and Thailand as well as Indonesia immersed in their own domestic problems.
“Meanwhile, the Indo-China countries, except for Vietnam, are too inclined towards China,” it stated.
The letter said Malaysia also welcomed the US presence in the region, especially in the South China Sea, to balance China's maritime assertiveness.
Malaysiakini and the Sarawak Report blog were also named in the letter, which claimed that the then-opposition was using them to spread a “negative narrative” on political and socio-economic policies.
“Earlier, they (the Opposition) had established NGOs such as Bersih Global to advocate an Arab Spring-like uprising in Malaysia.
“In 2016, the Opposition's hope to wrest control of the government seemed a bit promising as Mahathir joined them.
“Ironically, the entire 20 years of the opposition's 'reformasi' movement by (Datuk Seri) Anwar Ibrahim was about opposing and challenging Mahathir's tyranny,” it added.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah denied knowledge of the letter but told Malaysiakini that intelligence is supposed to be about ensuring national security and not influencing elections.
“Intelligence should not have had anything to do at all in this (last) election.
“Election is about the will of the people, election is about democracy,” he told the portal.
Saifuddin said the current Pakatan Harapan administration would not misuse intelligence units for its political interests.
The minister also revealed that the Government is reviewing the use of Special Branch personnel to monitor politicians.
“I can’t speak on behalf of (Home Minister Tan Sri) Muhyiddin (Yassin) but I believe he is looking into this aspect, where the main business of the police force is about home security and not about ensuring certain parties win the elections,” Saifuddin added.