It is shocking to see that an assistant editor of Utusan Malaysia has written that the 9-11 attacks were planned by the CIA, and that the agency could also be behind the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370.
It is yet another example that Utusan has become the laughing stock of Malaysian journalism, given to fabrication, conspiracy theories, paranoia, extremism, and racism. Just think of all the libel suits that it has lost in the past two years. Think of its declining circulation, as readers grow weary of propaganda that tries to pass as news.
But Utusan is not just any newspaper. It is owned by Umno, Malaysia’s ruling party, whose president is Najib Abdul Razak. Umno and its president traditionally have provided editorial guidance and supervision to Utusan.
So what say you, Najib? You will soon be welcoming President Barack Obama to Malaysia. Are you going to let this absurb statement in “your” newspaper stand? Or will you speak out - and denounce this nonsense - before Obama comes?
When Utusan had its screaming headline after the 13th GE, ‘Apa Lagi Cina Mahu’, Najib defended the paper. Then just a few months later, he told government-linked companies that they should buy more advertisements in Utusan in order to aid the newspaper financially.
Will Najib react differently this time? Washington certainly will take note of the editorial comment in this Umno newspaper, and will be waiting to see if there is a reaction from Najib and his government.
The writer is former US ambassador to Malaysia.