Written by Mariam Mokhtar, Malaysia Chronicle
BN has created massive publicity for Radio Free Sarawak (RFS) and the Sarawak Report (SR). The attention was generated when BN criticised Clare Rewcastle Brown, the founder of RFS and the author of the blog SR.
The outpouring of support for Clare and the Iban broadcaster and activist, Peter John Jaban, has been overwhelming. Overall, there has been a surge of 50 % on both RFS and the SR website, or an increase from 20 thousand a day to 30 thousand hits; most of the comments have been supportive.
There have been attempts by BN and a few individuals to denigrade Clare’s efforts. A cross-section of Malaysians, both those who were new to the RFS and SR sites and those who were regular supporters, were asked for their views on whether Clare was interfering in Sarawak’s affairs.
One person said, “I am annoyed how some people are saying that only a “white woman” can stand up to fight Taib……I think those people, may have good intentions or maybe they are misguided. Every effort is worthy of the cause. At the same time, these people are belittling the efforts of the Penan who risk their lives battling with the authorities at the blockades. There’s also Baru Bain, Nicholas Mujah and many others. They who are bombarded on a daily basis with death threats and thugs intimidating them.”
Another person who was new to RFS was particularly furious: “Clare is part of a team which we can loosely term the ‘Movement to Overthrow Taib and Fight for the Environment and for Justice’. They may be separate units but they have the same overall objective. If these others had protested about Taib’s corruption in Malaysia, they would be arrested for sedition. Clare would have, at best, been deported and at worst, been jailed.
When Malaysia Chronicle contacted Clare, she said, “I only got involved in this because this was something the local campaigners just could not do, but it was badly needed. As you say, anyone on the spot who had been putting out the information we have, would long since have been banged-up, which is why Raja Petra Kamarudin had to flee to the UK. This is the point isn’t it?”
She said that to mark Taib’s 30th year in office, two ‘Stop Timber Corruption’ marches – one in London and another in Ottawa, Canada had been arranged.
Despite being held on a cold, wet and windy Monday morning, the march in London was well attended and proceeded smoothly.
Several British and other foreigners joined in solidarity with the many Malaysians who were protesting about Taib’s corruption.
One man from Kenya said that his country was also suffering from the same problems of corruption. He was glad to offer his support to a worthy cause and would be joining more of the protests that were arranged.
Another Singaporean said that she had stayed in a longhouse near Sarikei and had seen for herself the suffering of the indigenous people. She was shocked to learn that millions of dollars had been spirited away by Taib and his family
A few people had come from as far away as Birmingham, Brighton and Norwich. A few had either lived or worked in Sarawak and were aware of the environmental disaster which Taib’s indiscriminate logging has caused. Others were shocked at the way he treated the indigenous people of Sarawak.
The British who were in the group did not think that Clare had done anything wrong.
One said, “I am glad she and Peter have teamed up to fight and expose Taib’s corruption. As a Brit, I certainly do not want my country to be involved in Taib’s money laundering, with his billions stashed here in the UK in property or other business concerns.”
Another said, “If Clare was born in Sarawak, then she has every right as a Sarawakian by birth and as a dutiful citizen, to clamp down on international crime syndicates, which Taib seems to represent.”
Back in Malaysia, BN and Taib are running scared. A week after they went public, Sarawak BN youth chief Fadillah Yusof said they would be forming a legal team to study the RFS’s contents to see if it breached Malaysian laws.
“If they do, we’ll lodge a police report against them and we want relevant agencies to take action,” said Fadillah.
It appears that BN are trying to hijack Clare’s and Peter’s efforts.The propaganda war has started. Already Umno diehards are claiming that the people who attended the marches in London were paid £100 each, to take part.
Perhaps Umno are trying to tell us that this is their preferred method for rewarding the people who attend their ‘ceramahs’, where coachloads of people are driven in from outlying areas and given between RM20-30 each to attend and afterwards treated to a lavish makan.
No wonder BN’s attendance is always high and can fill up stadiums.