After the resignation of Mustapha Kamil as New Straits Times group editor over the 1MDB global scandal at the end of last month, who is the next journalist of the mainstream media, whether print or electronic, who will take a stand for integrity, truth, transparency and good governance?
In his Facebook posting on May 31, Mustapha said he had received numerous private messages enquiring why he opted to leave New Straits Times early, and he related “the final moments” before he tendered my resignation “from a place I had until then treated as my second home”.
“On the morning of April 25th I walked into the CEO’s room with my resignation letter in hand. We sat and talked about my wish for a good one hour where naturally, the CEO enquired why I had wanted to do so.
“The CEO is a chartered accountant, a man who took his job very seriously, one who is adept with numbers and besides heading the company, someone whom I also considered a friend…
“There were two things I related to him that morning. First, just as he, a chartered accountant, would not hesitate to qualify a set of flawed accounts, signing each of them not only by his name, but also by the ethics enshrined within the professional body in which he was a member, I too take journalism ethics seriously.
“In my line of work, there is this element called the ‘truth discipline’. It is one that requires a journalist to be correct, right from the spelling of names of persons or places, to all the reports he must file. His responsibility is first to the truth, by which he must then guide society in navigating the path they had chosen.
“Second, I told him that I had weighed the situation for as long as I could but when an American newspaper, headquartered somewhere in Lower Manhattan in New York, wrote a story that got nominated for the coveted Pullitzer Prize, about an issue that happened right under my nose, I began to seriously search my conscience and asked myself why was I in journalism in the first place.
“We had a cordial discussion that morning and the CEO fully understood my predicament and the fact that there was little else that I could do. In my 27 years of being a journalist, I never once subscribed to the saying that if you can’t beat them, join them.
“In this line of work, there is no such thing as the path of least resistance. You have to stick to your principles. Around the world, an average of 110 like us, pay the ultimate price each year to get the true stories out. At the very least, I felt that as a journalist, I had to honour the sacrifices they had made in abiding by the discipline.
“I hope that answers everything.”
The “American newspaper, headquartered somewhere in Lower Manhattan in New York” which wrote a story that “got nominated for the coveted Pulitzer Prize, about an issue that happened right under my nose” is the Wall Street Journal whose series of reports on the 1MDB global scandal linked to the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak made it on the Pulitzer Prize nomination list in the International Reporting category.
According to the Pulitzer Prize official website, the WSJ had submitted a series of articles published between July and December last year – written by Tom Wright, Bradley Hope, Simon Clark, Mia Lamar and James Hookwood.
They were credited for their work which was described as “masterful reporting that exposed corruption at the highest levels of a fragile democracy, leading to Malaysia’s Watergate”.
Among others, the articles submitted were headlined “Malaysia Leader’s Accounts Probed” (July 2), “Leader Faces Fire Over Fund” (Oct 15), and “The Money Network of Malaysian Politics” (Dec 28).
Najib and his supporters from the ruling BN have repeatedly accused WSJ of peddling false accusations and being used by those with a political agenda to topple the government.
However, WSJ has continued to stand by its reports until today and supported calls for Najib to file a defamation suit against any allegedly false report.
The resignation of NST, the propaganda mouthpiece of Najib and UMNO, has further vindicated Wall Street Journal’s series of reporting on the 1MDB global scandal, which has already claimed several VIP casualties including a Deputy Prime Minister, a senior Cabinet Minister and Attorney-General who were summarily sacked for wanting to establish the truth of the 1MDB global scandal.
The protracted 1MDB global scandal has stained or destroyed the integrity of several personalities, including the “cari makan” Chairman of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) who unilaterally and arbitrarily tampered with the PAC Report on 1MDB; the new Bank Negara Governor who is more concerned about lodging a police report against Wall Street Journal (WSJ) under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) for revealing a letter from Bank Negara to the PAC Chairman stating that the beneficial owner of Good Star Limited, the “genesis” of the 1MDB global scandal, was Penang billionaire Jho Low instead of being more concerned about the national stakes and reputation with the global crackdown on multi-billion ringgit embezzlement, money-laundering and corruption offences; and not least of whom, the good name and reputation of the Malaysian Prime Minister himself.
Are there no more journalists in the mainstream media in Malaysia to uphold the “truth discipline” or who could search their conscience whether they are doing right by their nation, profession and future generations?
The reputation and standing of national institutions, whether the Attorney-General’s Chambers, Bank Negara, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, Police, the Auditor-General’s Office, the PAC and even Parliament itself have suffered in repute and standing by the protracted 1MDB global scandal.
I was suspended for six months for wanting Najib to answer two simple questions as to where the monies from his twin global scandals – the RR55 billion 1MDB and RM4.2 billion “donation” scandals – came from and where the monies have gone to, and up now, despite my six-month suspension from Parliament, the country is closer to the answers to these two questions.
Will the Prime Minister answer these two questions in the Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar parliamentary by-elections beginning with Nomination Day tomorrow?