Website founder motivated 'only by concern, not malice'

Website founder motivated 'only by concern, not malice'
Lester Melanyi said that Clare Rewcastle-Brown is a "rich lady".
PHOTO: The Star

Sarawak Report founder Clare Rewcastle Brown was born in Sarawak in 1960 to British parents.

She is married to Mr Andrew Brown, the brother of former British prime minister Gordon Brown, who has publicly supported her work against deforestation in the East Malaysian state.

During a visit to her birthplace in 2005 to speak at an environmental conference, Mrs Brown was asked by local journalists and activists to support the campaign against deforestation occurring under the state government of then Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud.

She began her anti-Taib campaign in earnest in 2010, running the Sarawak Report and sister radio station Radio Free Sarawak from a flat in London to expose alleged corruption by the senior Malaysian politician.

She went public as the founder of the two media outlets just months before Sarawak's state polls in 2011, in which the opposition parties recorded their best performance. But it was not enough to unseat Tan Sri Taib, who later resigned in 2014 after 33 years in power to fill the more ceremonial role of governor.

As with the current allegations that Mrs Brown is part of a conspiracy to topple Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, she was also accused in 2011 of running a malicious agenda to bring down Sarawak's Barisan Nasional government.

But Mrs Brown has said that "we are not motivated by malice, only by concern for the people of Sarawak and the priceless Borneo jungle that has been destroyed by the greed of just a few people".

Sarawak has put her on a travel blacklist and, in 2013, she was deported from the state on the day before British Prime Minister David Cameron was due to meet his Malaysian counterpart, Datuk Seri Najib, in London.

The 55-year-old Mrs Brown, who first worked as a journalist for the BBC World Service in 1983, has also denied that she is seeking to topple Mr Najib.

She told The Malaysian Insider website that such an agenda "is not my role, I am just exposing the truth as a journalist".

Over the past year, the Sarawak Report has published astonishing claims that 1Malaysia Development Berhad - whose advisory board is headed by the Prime Minister - was a front for Mr Najib and several businessmen to misappropriate public funds.

The allegations have been furiously denied by these individuals and the debt-laden state investor.

This article was first published on July 21, 2015.
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