Apco too has some explaining to do

COMMENT Many foreign governments sign contracts with American public relations and lobbying firms. So it is not unusual for the Malaysian government to sign a contract with Apco for services in the United States.

In contrast to the Jack Abramoff scandal - when the Malaysian embassy hid its role by making illegal payments to a fake think-tank in Delaware - Apco has registered with the US Department of Justice as an agent of a foreign government.

In its official report, Apco says that it is being paid US$70,000 per month, plus up to US$20,000 a month in expenses for the services that it is providing for the Malaysian government in the United States. So altogether, that is about US$1 million per year. That is not an unusual amount for such a contract.

The Malaysian government, however, has said that the value of the contract with Apco is US$24 million (RM77 million) per year. If only US$1 million is being spent in the United States, then what is the other US$23 million (RM74 million) being used for in Malaysia?