IT'S NOT every week PS lands in the centre of an international scandal, but last week's story about Rosmah Mansor, the wife of the Malaysian Prime Minister, Najib Razak, and her lavish New Year's Eve Sydney shopping spree has proved to be hotter than a Penang curry. After the story appeared in the Herald it went viral on the wildly inflammatory Malaysian blogosphere, where readers were outraged the woman introduced to Sydney fashion designer Carl Kapp on New Year's Eve as the First Lady of Malaysia (FLOM) had spent an estimated $100,000 on his designer threads.
FLOM, who is at home with all the world's other first ladies, including Michelle Obama, is well known in Malaysia for her purported shopping habits. She visited Kapp's Paddington boutique with her entourage of six after discovering his range at David Jones during a holiday in Sydney.
It was Kapp who later told PS he visited the $20,000 a night penthouse she was staying in, where he met Mr Razak, at the newly opened luxury hotel The Darling.
Following the PS article, FLOM was approached by a reporter in Malaysia and quizzed about her Sydney shopping tour de force, first reported on respected Australian fashion journalist Patty Huntington's Frockwriter website after Kapp's Sydney publicity firm, Little Hero, pitched the story to Huntington, along with two other media outlets. When PS called, Kapp was only too happy to talk about FLOM, even posing for a photo having already crowed about his new VIP muse on his Facebook page, though it was mysteriously deleted once the controversy erupted.
Back in Malaysia, FLOM told the mainstream media, much of it owned by her husband's government, PS's report was ''rubbish'', ''wildly exaggerated' and she was a ''victim'', adding that Kapp would be issuing a statement on the affair.
Meanwhile, a campaign to discredit PS was launched in Malaysia, with everything from details about my personal life to being named on disgraced medico Geoffrey Edelsten's mildly amusing list of ''Australia's Worst Journalists'', being given an airing.
PS managed to get hold of Kapp's official statement. He denied being flown to Malaysia in coming weeks specifically to fit FLOM for her ''massive'' order of 61 garments, for which she paid up front. Yet Kapp told PS last week ''she is flying me to Malaysia for fittings in February''.
Kapp would not disclose the exact value of FLOM's order to PS but he did not dispute PS's $100,000 estimate.
Kapp's statement, issued by the same publicity firm that was originally drumming up interest in the FLOM story, said: ''It is our view that the article has unfairly given the impression that the Carl Kapp establishment is indiscreet and is willing to divulge personal and private information about our clients. This is manifestly untrue, and we wish to state unequivocally that we value greatly the privacy of our clientele and would never violate their confidence under any circumstance.'' How reassuring.