Malaysia is like the wild west. Yesterday, the Wanted poster of Clare Rewcastle Born was circulated on online media. What next? Will a posse and the bounty hunters be sent to search for her, and bundle her onto the back of a horse before riding onto the sunset to a distant town, where they can collect their reward money?
Investigative journalist Clare Rewcastle Brown is a Sarawakian by birth. She cares about Sarawak and by extension, Malaysia. If she had not exposed the 1MDB scandal many years ago, many Malaysians would have still been in the dark about the most corrupt government and prime minister in the world.
When Rewcastle Brown (above) revealed the theft of taxpayers’ money by the convicted criminal Najib Abdul Razak and his partner in crime, Jho Low, did the federal cabinet order an internal investigation to see if the allegations were true? No! They did not. Incredibly, one cabinet minister after another claimed that Najib had done no wrong.
Yesterday, Sept 23, a warrant of arrest was issued against Rewcastle Brown for not appearing in court to answer the charge against her of defaming the Sultanah of Terengganu, Sultanah Nur Zahirah. Aren’t there more pressing matters for the authorities and the courts to deal with?
The Sultanah alleged that she had been defamed in one of the passages in Rewcastle Brown’s book, The Sarawak Report – The Inside Story of the 1MDB Expose.
Did the court take into account the strict Covid-19 travel restrictions imposed by both England and Malaysia? People who are trying to visit dying relatives, or return home from being stuck abroad, or attend funerals, have had their plans thrown into confusion.
Instead of going after Rewcastle Brown, why isn’t more effort spent trying to locate Jho Low? Why do the authorities appear to drag their feet when it comes to apprehending criminals?
Rewcastle Brown is not daft, nor is she a newcomer to journalism. Was she careless? Hardly. So, why would she compromise herself in this manner? Could the allegedly defamatory lines have been wrongly misconstrued? After all, the nuances of the English language may be tricky for some Malaysians to navigate.
Did a palace lackey think he could gain brownie points with a wrong interpretation of Rewcastle Brown’s writing? Or did he incorrectly analyse the sentences and claim that the Sultanah’s ego had been bruised?
After politicians in many high-profile cases of corruption and money laundering found that their cases had been dropped and they were given full acquittals, does anyone think that Rewcastle Brown has faith in our justice system?
She and others will be aware that in Malaysia, the three Rs (race, religion and royalty) may weigh heavily against her. It should not, but after all, this is Malaysia.
Under Pakatan Harapan, steps were taken to search for the missing funds and return them to the nation. Why is the Finance Ministry silent about this?
The rakyat are grateful that money that had been stolen from taxpayers has been confiscated by the American Department of Justice (DOJ) and returned to the nation. The rakyat are grateful, but apparently, not everyone is delighted.
Najib is trying to make a comeback into politics and govern the nation. The knives are probably out for those who helped bring him down in 2018.
Malaysian journalists may count themselves relatively lucky in that threats and violence against journalists are not as bad as in other countries, like the Philippines, India or Myanmar, where they are killed for reporting the truth. Harassment and being arrested are common in Malaysia, but lawsuits are now increasingly used to silence critics.
Why shouldn’t someone, including journalists speak out against injustice or things that affect our lives and our nation? These are areas of public concern.
So, is this the new Malaysia after Harapan? Where lawsuits are used to silence critics and to stop some institutions and individuals from coming under public scrutiny? The cost of legal defence and the length of litigation is enough to wear down the most dedicated of journalists.
Malaysians are aware of one thing: when defenders of the truth, whether they are individuals, activists, NGOs or journalists are intimidated, one thing is confirmed. The truth is hurting someone and possibly an institution.
Will framing the defenders of the truth, arresting or taking out litigation stop them from speaking out? The answer is “No”. The work of people fighting injustice will continue.
Lawsuits as weapons against journalists are convenient tactics to silence them. The publicity from this latest development should generate renewed interest in The Sarawak Report – The Inside Story of the 1MDB Expose.
It will also be a good reminder of why we worked hard to win GE14 and why it is important not to forget how kleptocrats and their cronies undermined democracy. More importantly, it reinforces the rakyat’s resolve to always stand up for justice.
Please lend your support to Clare. They want to silence her and discourage people like us, from exposing more lies, iinjustice, corruption and stupidity!