The Edge owner attacked because he criticised 1MDB, says Dr M

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KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 5): Datuk Tong Kooi Ong is being attacked because publications in his media group have criticised 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), says Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, a vocal critic of the state investment vehicle.

"This is all because he was criticising 1MDB, so he is accused of betting against the ringgit. If he had not criticised 1MDB, even if the currency falls, he (Tong) won't matter, but just don't criticise 1MDB," the former prime minister said yesterday of claims that the businessman was betting against the ringgit to make it crash for personal profit.

The Edge Media Group owner was also accused of using the media outlets in his stable to put Malaysia in a bad light and of sabotaging the country's economy.

He denied the allegations in two statements issued earlier this week.

An anonymous blogger with the username "ahrily90" posted a few articles on Tong in various blogs.

The most recent one alleged that Tong was "manipulating" Dr Mahathir by deliberately giving wide coverage to the former prime minister who had been critical of 1MDB and its massive debt.

Dr Mahathir was speaking to reporters yesterday at the Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM) in Kepong, Kuala Lumpur, where he signed a plaque to commemorate FRIM's status as a national heritage site.

On Tong's alleged attempts to sabotage the Malaysian economy through currency speculation, Dr Mahathir said the claim had yet to be verified.

"Investigate first whether it is true or not. Because The Edge has criticised 1MDB a lot. This is what he (Tong) is now facing, accusations that he is betting against the ringgit.

"Last time, our currency fell because of international traders. After that we can investigate whether he (Tong) has ties with Soros," Dr Mahathir said, referring to billionaire financier and hedge fund manager who had targeted the ringgit in the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

The blogger "ahrily90" also wrote critical pieces against Dr Mahathir and his sons as well as prominent banker Datuk Seri Nazir Razak, who is the brother of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

One common thread behind the attacks appeared to be that The Edge had been publishing exposes about 1MDB, while Dr Mahathir had been openly critical of it even saying it was unnecessary and should be shut.

Nazir was concerned about 1MDB's RM48 billion debts and the risk it posed to the economy and banking system should it fail.

In an interview with The Star in December, 2013, Nazir said he was worried about how 1MDB will be able to develop the Tun Razak Exchange (TRX) given the glut in office space.

PM Najib is chairman of 1MDB's advisory board, and the fund is owned by the Finance Ministry.