The US Ambassador to Malaysia yesterday lashed out at 'America-bashing' and called for efforts to control the 'ugly atmosphere' generated by a rising anti-American frenzy in the country. In a remarkably frank statement to local and foreign journalists, John Malott blasted the Malaysian media and, by implication, government ministers over a series of recent reports and remarks maligning the United States. He said the rhetoric surrounding the US-Malaysian relationship over the past four months had worsened and public opinion had been affected. Anti-American sentiment has been mounting since Southeast Asia was hit by financial turmoil in July and the Malaysian Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, blamed American financier George Soros for the devaluation of the Malaysian dollar. It intensified recently following an American threat of sanctions against Petronas, the national oil company, over an Iranian gas deal and a move to have the American Congress approve a resolution calling on Dr Mahathir to resign or apologise over alleged anti-American and anti-Semitic remarks. The US Embassy reported on Thursday that it had received two calls threatening harm to American citizens in Malaysia. One caller specifically threatened to kill four Americans. Mr Malott said he was concerned about a push for the 'trashing' of US-Malaysian ties. 'I am concerned about the growing tendency to blame everything that is happening on foreigners, usually Americans, or on the foreign press, usually American-owned,' he said. 'I am shocked to read editorial opinion that the sale of foreign publications should be banned in Malaysia or that the CIA is conspiring with the foreign press to bring down the Prime Minister, or that US government funds are being used to manipulate the stock market. This is nonsense, as everyone knows - why is it being said?' Mr Malott said he was surprised that a US television network was blamed for the decline in foreign tourists in Malaysia when 'everyone knew it was due to the haze' from forest fires in Indonesia. He said that after the embassy carried out its 'legal and moral responsibility' to inform the American community of the death threats, he read a charge in newspapers that it was not doing its job to improve ties between the US and Malaysia. 'That is like blaming the victim for the crime,' he said. The embassy had been accused of 'not doing its job' by Primary Industries Minister Lim Keng Yaik. Declaring 'enough is enough', Mr Malott called for 'an end to this emotionalism. Let us all be more responsible in what we say and write.'