Did APCO deliver the goods to Najib et al? Here’s how to find out

Unspun learned about the article below in Malaysian Insider from Opah. Its a nice piece of business for APCO and while the Opposition in Malaysia were right to query about the amount paid, they are asking the wrong questions.

Any successful public relations effort ultimately changes one or more of three things: awareness, attitude and behavior.

If the target audience here is the US political system then, if they are successful, they would have changed the level of awareness that the US political elite has of Malaysia, the attitude they have toward one or another aspect of the country and their behavior (say, from voting against to voting for).

If the Opposition understands this then the  correct question to ask is what are the KPIs, the Key Performance Indicators, agreed between the Malaysian Government and APCO and how did they do against these parameters? Being American they must have polled this thing to death. What do the polls say?

And if the Opposition is smart about it they should hire their own pollster in Washington to provide an independent assessment of whether the US$24.2 million is well spent. That is the only way to pin the Government down on their justification to hire APCO, anything less than a marshaling of facts and figures to back their allegations would mean that the Opposition has lost the game. They would have fallen into the trap of rhetoric vs rhetoric, and in such a verbal pissing contest, someone who’s been trained in the arts of the bump and run (also known as bridging) and other techniques will surely, if not win the day, will at least emerge unscathed.

Government paid APCO RM76m

By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal

KUALA LUMPUR, April 13 — The government paid US$24.2 million (RM76.8 million) to APCO Worldwide, the international public relations consultancy linked by Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders to Israel, for its services from last July until June this year.

The amount was revealed by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, in a written reply to a question in Parliament from PKR MP, Chua Tian Chang.

Chua disclosed this today to reporters, and pointed out that the amount far exceeded the RM28 million mentioned by Nazri previously.

The minister’s written reply provided a breakdown of the fee paid by the government to APCO, starting from July 15, 2009 until June 4, 2010.

“I want the minister to explain the expenses concerning APCO Worldwide. The payment was just for APCO’s services, not even for the 1 Malaysia concept,” Chua told reporters today in Parliament.

“How did Nazri end up with RM28 million, when the total amount was US$24,207,158 which is in US dollars. Change it to Malaysian ringgit and you get RM76,820,653,” said Chua.

When met by the Malaysian Insider, Nazri explained that he was uncertain during the time whether the figure was in the correct currency.

“It was what was told to me. I was not sure whether it was dollars or ringgit. Tengku Sharifuddin (Tengku Ahmad) informed me at the time,” said Nazri.

Nazri also said that when Chua had raised the question in Parliament, he had mentioned that he lacked the information then but would answer in depth at a later point.

via Government paid APCO RM76m.

6 thoughts on “Did APCO deliver the goods to Najib et al? Here’s how to find out

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  1. So we cannot judge APCO’s performance because we do not know the KPIs? We will never know what the KPIs are, the only parties who know – the Malaysian government and APCO – are certainly not going to disclose them.

    The only thing we have is APCO’s statement (by Margery Kraus) to PublicAffairAsia.com:

    “They (APCO’s KL office) will work to assist in strengthening the government’s online and other strategic communication capabilities to speed the delivery of accurate information to the media and public.”

    The Malaysian government is set work with APCO to develop its capabilities to communicate through new media and aid the government’s new leadership in Europe, North America and Africa.

    APCO said it will also be providing support to Malaysia’s ambassador to the United States in Washington.”

    APCO and Najib have both taken pains to convince us that APCO had nothing to do with “1Malaysia”, the Malaysian government’s single most important “strategic communications” initiative in the last 10 years.

    So I guess you are right, we’ll never know whether using RM77 million of public money for APCO was well spent or not. That’s why so many questions remain.


  2. @Opah: Ah, but the Government is spending public money in employing APCO, so the people’s representatives are entitled to ask for the KPIs to determine how well public money is spent. The problem is that the Opposition askes the wrong questions in Parliament.

    The Opposition could also commission a survey in Washington to see if APCO’s efforts have borne fruit by probing whether it has changed anything in the levels of awareness, attitudes and behaviors of Beltway politicians toward Malaysia.

    Anything less than that and they get into a verbal pissing contest where everyone gets wet and smelly and tyhe public like you and I get no wiser.


  3. A small part of the contract is now available on Malaysia Today – “Barak’s ‘One Israel’ and Najib’s ‘One Malaysia'”.

    The US work, clearly spelled out in the “Deliverable Activities” section, is limited to “research, develop key strategy and messages, outreach and legal and compliance”. This segment is only worth USD420,000 plus expenses.

    Small potatoes then and certainly APCO cannot be held to account for changing awareness, attitudes and behaviour in the US for such a measly sum.

    Now we need to find out what the rest of the USD24 million was for.


  4. Some clarity on APCO’s KPIs?

    Here’s what an UMNO MP said in Parlaiment:

    KUALA LUMPUR: In a shocking revelation, Barisan Nasional’s Kota Belud MP Rahman Dahlan told Parliament today that BN “was forced to appoint” international consultancy firm Apco Worldwide to bridle and contain opposition coalition Pakatan Rakyat.

    Rahman said the BN government had to appoint Apco to protect itself from Pakatan.

    “I want to say that RM77 million is the risk, the amount needed to rectify the damage triggered by Pakatan,” he said.

    So that’s waht the USD24 million is for.


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