By P Gunasegaram, Editor-in-Chief, Focus Malaysia

WE read with some interest the report by The Edge quoting sources that Khazanah Nasional Bhd, the sole shareholder of troubled national carrier Malaysia Airlines Bhd (MAB), has lodged a police report over the leakage of information on the future of MAB to us – we were the only ones who carried reports.

We can only hope that this police report is to cover up holes in their own processes which may have led to these leaks and does not constitute an attempt to muzzle the free press which has a right to report on any matter of national interest.

Malaysians, through Khazanah, which is wholly owned by the Malaysian government, are the ultimate shareholders of MAB and we believe that Malaysians have a right to know what is happening to our national treasures whose values are being steadily eroded.

The fact is that there is too little information in the public domain about what is happening at MAB and our judgement is that this is a matter of national and public interest and that the public has a right to know what is the extent of the problem at MAB and what are the measures being considered to save the airline.

We wrote the stories simply because they were of great public interest and importance.

For now, we are happy that we have not been accused of false reporting and that there is tacit acknowledgement that our sources are accurate and spot on.

We would also like to point out that 1MDB also made police reports that information had been leaked before. The Edge reported as follows on Oct 12, 2015:

“1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) filed a police report today over leaks of confidential company information, including minutes of one of its board meetings that was obtained by whistleblower website Sarawak Report.

“In a statement tonight, the state investment firm said it lodged a police report because no action had been taken over Sarawak Report’s admission of having obtained confidential documents from Bank Negara and from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), as well as documents related to a government probe into the debt-ridden firm.

“Given this lack of action, 1MDB has today filed a police report on actions by one or more parties, who we suspect have leaked and/or sold confidential or proprietary information.”

We would like to add that The Edge had access to confidential emails over the 1MDB case leaked to them by one Xavier Justo. Eventually, The Edge chairman Datuk Tong Kooi Ong paid RM8.2 mil to Xavier.

In the public interest, The Edge published information from these emails and was eventually suspended for three months from July 2015. When it was suspended, online portal Malaysiakini organised a solidarity demonstration in support of The Edge. We at FocusM believe The Edge did the right thing when they published the email extracts.

We hope our fellow news portals and publications will vigorously defend us if it comes to that – we hope it does not –  as we will if they are similarly targeted.

Here’s what The Edge sources story on the latest report says: “Sources say only a small group of people had access to the documents as the proposals were deemed very confidential.

“Khazanah worry (sic) that such a blatant leak of board papers containing detailed and confidential information will make it tough for it to undertake future deals with third parties. The integrity of its processes is at stake on the matter.” How would a police report help such a situation?

We can say that we sighted the relevant documents but we don’t have them in our possession. And we positively did not pay anyone for them. – Jan 24, 2020

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