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Republican-linked group claims it worked with BN, too
Published:  Aug 7, 2018 11:33 AM
Updated: 9:13 AM

The Washington-based International Republican Institute (IRI) has denied claims that it worked with the Malaysian opposition to undermine BN prior to the May 9 general election.

IRI also pointed out that it worked with BN as well.

“IRI is a non-partisan organisation that has worked with partners in Malaysia since 2002 to strengthen the ability of political parties to compete in elections and adheres to the practices of citizen-centred governance.

“IRI has provided non-partisan capacity-building support to political parties across the political spectrum in the form of direct training workshops and consultations with both the Harapan and BN coalitions.

“IRI does not provide financial assistance to political parties in Malaysia,” it said in a statement.

The group said its work included initiatives designed to increase youth participation within political and civic spheres and to strengthen the capacity of Malaysia's civil society organisations.

“Through this work, IRI has helped Malaysian citizens hold their elected officials accountable and communicate their concerns to the government,” it added.

IRI president Daniel Twining had told a forum in Washington on July 11 that his group has been working to “strengthen” opposition parties in Malaysia, but did not provide details.

Twining claimed he met senior Harapan officials after the fall of the BN government in the “Prime Minister's Office”.

However, he said the IRI does not claim credit for BN’s downfall and instead blamed it on the former ruling coalition's excesses, corruption and abuse of power.

IRI is one of four think tanks bankrolled by the National Endowment for Democracy, which is funded by the US Congress.

Although the four groups were supposed to help spread democratic ideals globally, IRI has often been singled out for training opposition or coup leaders in Honduras, Haiti, Cuba, Egypt and Tunisia, among other countries.

Umno information chief Shamsul Anuar Nasarah had responded to Twining's claims by demanding that the government set up an independent investigation on foreign interference. 

He also accused Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad of having worked with IRI since 2002, at a time when the latter was still the president of Umno.

Mahathir only became an opposition figure in 2016.

Some PKR leaders have admitted interacting with IRI but pointed out that there was nothing sinister in those relations, and that Gerakan – a BN party at the material time – was engaging with IRI as well.

The IRI issue comes hot on the heels of the CIA letter controversy involving the previous administration.


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