KUCHING: Radio Free Sarawak (RFS) deejay Peter John Jaban managed to “escape” police at the Miri International Airport this morning, but was “abducted” by unidentified plainclothes individuals believed to be linked to the Special Branch.
Jaban, 48, had earlier been detained, photographed and his documents photocopied by Kota Kinabalu police while waiting to board his flight to Miri to join his family for the Gawai celebrations.
In a text message to FMT, sent via a friend, Jaban said he was “ready to be arrested by Special Branch in Sarawak”.
Although he was met on arrival by a group of policemen no arrest was made as they were “still awaiting instruction from the top”.
RFS said in statement that a local PKR leader Dr Michael Teo and lawyer Alan Ling seized the opportunity of the “slow process” and whisked Jaban off.
But RFS founder-editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown later confirmed that the attempt was thwarted by a group of “three unidentified plainclothes personnel” who stopped their car on the road to Miri town and took Jaban away.
Said Rewcastle-Brown: “We are assuming these men are associated with the authorities, but they failed to give their identities to the lawyer.
“To say we are worried is an understatement. Jaban wanted to go home for Gawai. We knew it was risky, but it is a special festival and he wanted to be with his family.”
She said thus far information was sketchy.
“We are desperately trying to find where Jaban is and why he was pulled from a car without any proper reason by unidentified people.
“Our immediate concern is that Jaban is not hurt. We need immediate information as to his whereabouts and his lawyer should be allowed access to him immediately.” she said, adding that Ling will be lodging a police report immediately.
‘Wanted’ man in Sarawak
The anxiety coupled with his medical condition and desire to see his family had compelled him to risk the trip.
“He is also under medication for high blood pressure and has been feeling the strain of being a ‘wanted man’ the past year for his work on the station.
“We think it is outrageous that he should be hounded for what he is doing since he is just providing a platform for the Dayak people to speak out about what has been happening to them and to their lands.
“There have been egregious human rights offences against the Dayak people in Sarawak and their beautiful rainforest has been stolen and cut down.
“They have a right to air these issues without persecution,” said Rewcastle-Brown, alluding to Jaban’s call-in shows in the Iban language.
Jaban, better known as Papa Orang Utan, has been with RFS since its inception in 2010.
However, since 2011 Jaban has been on Chief Minister Taib Mahmud’s “wanted list”.
Jaban came into the limelight when RFS launched its Iban language call-in shows.
The show proved a tremendous success with listeners calling in and openly speaking about land grabs and ruthless BN leaders.
Sarawak Barisan Nasional’s losses in the rural mixed-constituencies, rural and interior to DAP and PKR were attributed to RFS popularity.
Since then the authorities have been trying to put a stop to RFS broadcasts but to no avail. – FMT