Radio Free Sarawak is back after “holiday recess”

Filepix shows Brown and Jaban at their radio stationFilepix shows Brown and Jaban at their radio station

By Yu Ji

KUCHING: After a short “holiday,” the controversial Radio Free Sarawak (RFS) is back on the air since stopping abruptly after the May 5 general election. It is scheduled to start its broadcast at 7pm on Monday.

In a media statement posted at radiofreesarawak.org, RFS founder Clare Rewcastle Brown called the abrupt shutdown a “holiday recess”.

She also described RFS as “Sarawak’s independent radio station.”

The media statement was attached with a photo of presenters Christina Suntai and Peter John Jaban. No date or location was provided.

Brown said the station, which broadcasts mainly in Iban and Bahasa Malaysia, has “received numerous enquiries from listeners eager for information about pressing issues in the state”.

She said the station would focus on the on-going plans to build dams and the eviction of thousands of native people from their lands.

“Ordinary folk want to be heard on these issues and it seems their opinions may often be different from the propaganda put out on the state media,” she said.

“The station’s call-in facility also provides an opportunity for longhouse dwellers to express their own views and concerns about the effects of deforestation, oil palm plantation, rural poverty and endemic political corruption,” she said.

In May, RFS was declared the 2013 winner of the Pioneer of Free Media Award by the International Press Institute.

The radio station is linked to the online portal, Sarawak Report, which shares the same agenda to shed light on issues.

Meanwhile, it was reported that a court case against Brown over her article “Dirty Dayak Datuks — BN’s Crony Candidates” was settled out of court with the plaintiffs agreeing to withdraw the suit without cost.

The plaintiffs were Kapit MP Datuk Alexander Nanta Linggi, Tan Sri Datuk Amar Leonard Linggi Jugah, Greame Iaan Brown, Asian Plantations (Sarawak) Sdn Bhd, Keresa Plantations Sdn Bhd and Rajang Wood Sdn Bhd.

The suit, filed a day after the article was posted at Sarawak Report, sought, among others, to have the article removed.

When Brown tried to enter Sarawak to defend herself in court here on July 3, she was denied entry at the Kuching International Airport.

When held at the airport, prior to deportation, she made a YouTube video accusing individuals of colluding with the political establishment to abuse their powers in order to silence their critics.

During an interview with The Star after the incident, which attracted worldwide attention including articles published by The New York Times, Brown, sister-in-law of former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, said:

“I do not think it is fair to push the case through and win it in my absence because of my failure to defend myself and then to try and enforce such a judgement in the UK.” – Star

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