A Malaysiakini report
An underground radio station has fired a return salvo at Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, exhorting him to launch a probe on Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud.
Yesterday, Hishammuddin said a police report had been made against Radio Free Sarawak (RFS), a clandestine radio station which broadcast from United Kingdom, for allegedly “spreading lies” against the state government.
The home minister, during a visit to Kuching, has vowed that the authorities would leave no stone unturned in its investigation into the operation of RFS.
In an immediate response, RSF founder Clare Rewcastle Brown told Malaysiakini that a police investigation into Taib would have been more productive.
“I would so like to hear that the home minister is also leaving ‘no stone unturned in order to root out the monstrous corruption that has stripped Sarawak of its resources,” said Rewcastle Brown.
“Or that he is leaving no stone unturned to help the native peoples of Sarawak, who have lost their lands and livelihoods to this corruption.”
Last week, Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu Youth wing lodged a police report, claiming the radio station had been operating illegally and spreading lies against the chief minister.
Radio Free Sarawak, an independent station that started its daily broadcasts on Nov 16 last year, reports on local activists and communities defending their land rights as well as alleged corruption involving Taib and his government.
Rewcastle Brown, who is sister-in-law of former British prime minister Gordon Brown, was born in Sarawak to British parents in the days before the former British colony was handed over to Malaysia, and had lived in the region until the age of eight.
She and Iban activist Peter John Jaban are the brains behind RFS as well as an anti-Taib website Sarawak Report, dubbed by some as the Wikileaks of Sarawak.
Jaban, who on air is known as Papa Orang Utan and runs the pro-democracy radio station from his London base, has last Friday decried the “growing campaign of harassment” against his family in Kuching.
Rewcastle Brown has lamented the Malaysian government’s reaction to RFS’s criticisms of Taib.
“Maybe, if they stopped for one moment to consider whether there might be room for a certain amount of self-examination and to consider if, in the light of our efforts to reveal matters that have been kept hidden by the suppression of a free media in Sarawak, certain improvements and changes might be worth considering, it would be healthier than this hysterical response to a small team of critics.
“However, their reaction has been to try to squash us and to shut us up, so that the issues we are raising cannot be heard.”
According to Rewcastle Brown, if such a “small breath of fresh air” is considered ‘dangerous’ by BN, then “it reveals their structures to be in a very fragile state”.
“All we did was draw attention to these problems. How can that be a crime?”