Govt wants probe over controversial CIA letter

By P PREM KUMAR & DASHVEENJIT KAUR / Pic By TMR

The government wants to institute a formal probe over an alleged letter signed by an officer of the former administration, seeking the backing of a foreign intelligence agency.

The letter, sent to the US’ Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director Gina Haspel, had sought the powerful spy services to back Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak after the general election.

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng (picture) said the content of the letter, which was sent days before the May 9 general election, had elements of breach of trust and misuse of power.

“It was written by an officer to seek for help. Is the person allowed to write a letter like that? And who ordered her to write the letter?” he said at the Parliament lobby yesterday.

A letter seeking the backing of the CIA and signed by Datuk Hasanah Ab Hamid on behalf of the then Malaysian External Intelligence Organisation (MEIO), had surfaced recently.

MEIO is believed to be an intelligence gathering unit under the Prime Minister’s Department under Najib’s administration.

The surfacing of the letter had created a storm that a large section of the public are calling for a probe to determine the authenticity of the correspondence. Many are also calling the seeking of a foreign intelligence backing as tantamount to treason.

The letter had urged the most powerful spy agency in the US to support Najib even if Barisan Nasional (BN) secured a single seat majority in the general election.

The letter also called Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as anti-Semitic and anti-western countries.

Persatuan Patriot Kebangsaan had lodged a police report, seeking the authorities to investigate MEIO former head Hasanah over the purported letter. The association also called the sending of the letter as an “act of treason”.

The US has not commented on the existence of the letter up to now.

Lim said there were many questions surrounding the letter as it was related to the country’s sovereignty.

“Was this letter sent to other countries? Are there any more letters?” Lim said.

Najib, when met outside the Dewan Rakyat, denied any knowledge about the purported letter.

“I am not aware of the letter. It was not directed by me. I can’t confirm or deny. But I had no knowledge of it,” he said, adding that it was unsuitable to comment on leakages as it is “bad press”.

Najib, however, said the alleged correspondence should have been kept confidential.

“This is between intelligence agencies and it should have been kept as a government secret. By exposing, it is no longer a secret,” he said.

Najib added that based on the date the letter was issued, it was during the general election campaigning period and “it would have been too late for the agency to affect the election results”.

The three-page letter, according to reports, was allegedly signed by Hasanah to congratulate the new CIA appointee, while appealing for the US to support Najib’s administration “even if BN won the election by a simple majority or just one seat”.

The letter supposedly read that any indication that the US government would continue to support Najib and his government would “definitely strengthen stability and enhance the existing cordial relationship driven by the strong rapport between our two leaders”.

The letter allegedly stated that Dr Mahathir was “harmful to the US and its interests” as he had been anti-West, anti-Semitic and autocratic, while also ignoring human rights and the rule of law