KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 8 — CIMB group chairman Datuk Seri Nazir Razak is now considering legal action against “ahrily90”, the blogger allegedly responsible for the online smear campaign against him, media tycoon Datuk Tong Kooi Ong and other critics of state investment firm 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
In a statement carried by The Malaysian Insider, Nazir, who is also the brother of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, said he was made aware of the blogger’s alleged complicity in the campaign following Tong’s published remarks Friday claiming he has evidence to prove the link.
“I note from Datuk Tong Kooi Ong’s press statement on February 6 that he has a trail of evidence that proves the identity of ‘ahrily90’, the person behind these attacks,” he was quoted saying in the statement.
“If this is indeed the case, upon my own review of the evidence, I will certainly initiate civil and criminal proceedings against the person concerned. I will also be investigating any additional recourse available for Internet slander against minors,” he added.
The news portal also reported Nazir as lamenting that he and his family were subjected to the online attacks after his article “Remembering my father, Tun Razak” and after he publicly commented on 1MDB’s debt burdens.
“Above all, Azlina and I have been extremely concerned and distressed that the attacks featured slanderous accusations against our innocent young children, actions that most parents would agree are ones that cross the boundaries of human decency,” he was quoted saying, referring to his wife.
But without proof, the banker said he could not take action against the blogger.
On Thursday, Tong accused business magnate Low Taek Jho of being responsible for the anonymous allegations in the same smear campaign which claimed that he has been sabotaging the Malaysian economy.
Low is regularly associated to 1MDB through his involvement in its predecessor, Terengganu investment Authority, as well as the Abu Dhabi funders that back the state investor.
Tong, whose media units had earlier in the week identified “ahrily 90” as the “pro-Jho Low” blogger behind the attacks, is also following through with his previous threat to sue those accusing him of intentionally undermining the ringgit for profit.
“I believe Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, is the person responsible for the malicious lies and fabrications against The Edge Media Group and I through several blogs using the WordPress blogging platform.
“This morning, my lawyers served on Jho Low a demand that he cease and desist fabricating the malicious lies against The Edge, The Malaysian Insider and I in the following blogs: malaysianexpose.wordpress.com and kronismemahathir.wordpress.com,” Tong said in a statement.
Tong also elaborated on the discovery of an “ahrily90” as the author of the blogs allegedly attacking him and other critics of 1MDB, including Nazir and former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
He explained that the individual was also behind blogs penned with other screen names that targeted the three ostensibly over their past and current criticism of the state investment firm.
“Besides the above blogs used to attack us, ahrily90 is also responsible for these blogs — bisnes2malaysia.wordpress.com, worldofcorporate.wordpress.com, and todayinbusiness.wordpress.com.
“These blogs exclusively promote Jho Low, 1Malaysia Development Bhd and their businesses,” Tong added in deducing the blogger’s relationship to Low.
The investment banker turned media tycoon also insisted that critical reporting of the state investor was not tantamount to economic sabotage, but was instead helping the country find ways to improve its current situation.
On Monday, The Edge alleged that a blogger it identified only by the user name “ahrily90” was behind allegations of economic sabotage against Tong as well as other anonymous blogs attacking Dr Mahathir and Nazir, both of whom it identified as vocal critics of 1MDB.
Dr Mahathir on Wednesday said that the attacks against online critics of 1MDB were meant to undermine the credibility of his enquiries into its debt and finances.