Sarawak Report

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Sara report.png
Web address www.sarawakreport.org
Commercial No
Type of site
News, Document archive and disclosure
Available in English, Iban, Malay and Mandarin
Created by Clare Rewcastle Brown
Launched 12 February 2010 (2010-02-12)[1]
Alexa rank
Increase 38,491 in world, (1,107 in Malaysia) (Oct 2015)[2]
Current status Active

Sarawak Report is an investigative journalism online news resource that offers "an alternative vision of justice, transparency and a fairer future in Sarawak."[3] It is based in London.

Sarawak Report’s website was blocked by Malaysia's internet regulatory body, Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), in the summer of 2015, approximately two weeks after the website started to reported on the 1Malaysia Development Berhad scandal.[4] Sarawak Report continued to reach the Malaysian public through Medium.com, but that was also blocked in January 2016.[5]

History[edit]

Founding[edit]

The sarawakreport.org domain name was registered on 12 February 2010.[1] The website published its first post focusing on the rights of the indigenous people in the jungles of the Baram Region, Sarawak, Malaysia. On 15 June 2010, it published its first exposé on the Sarawak chief minister family's properties in Canada.[6] The website was initially operated anonymously. It described itself as "a group of citizens and onlookers deeply concerned by the situation in Sarawak, East Malaysia."[7] In November 2010, its sister organisation named Radio Free Sarawak was formed.[8] On 22 February 2011, Clare Rewcastle Brown decided to go public and to claim responsibility of the website after her American informant, Ross Boyert, was found dead in a Los Angeles hotel room.[9] Since then, Clare Rewcastle becomes the founder, the editor-in-chief, and the spokesperson for Sarawak Report.[10][11]

Purpose[edit]

According to the Sarawak Report website, it exists to provide a platform for those who denied access to the state-controlled media, and "to offer an alternative vision of justice, transparency and a fairer future."[12]

Major exposés[edit]

Sarawak Report was dubbed as the "Wikileaks of Sarawak" following its chain of exposés of alleged land grabs by the family of Sarawak's chief minister Abdul Taib Mahmud and their international property empire.[13][14]

Taib Mahmud family overseas property[edit]

In June 2010, Sarawak Report began its first exposé by publishing an article detailing about Canadian properties owned by the family of Taib Mahmud.[15] This was followed by subsequent exposés on his properties in United States[16] and London.[17] Taib Mahmud's former aide, Ross Boyert was the major source for Sarawak Report on the Taib family property empire in the United States.[18] Exposés by Sarawak Report have led to investigations by Germany, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and Canada into Taib family alleged assets.[19]

Bakun Dam construction methods[edit]

In April 2011, Sarawak Report claimed that its website was hacked after it reported that Chinese dam constructor Sinohydro had used faulty construction methods when building the Bakun Dam, one of the largest dams in Asia.[20] Sinohydro later acknowledged their flawed construction procedures in building the dam.[21]

FBC Media scandal[edit]

Main article: FBC Media § Scandal

In August 2011, an investigation by Sarawak Report revealed that FBC Media, a media production company had been acting as a public relations firm for Malaysian politicians including Abdul Taib Mahmud and Najib Tun Razak.[22] The exposé caused BBC and CNBC to sever their relationships with FBC Media,[23][24] and resulted in FBC Media going into administration on 24 October 2011.[25] The BBC later issued a worldwide apology and revised its commissioning procedures after the revelation that it had been commissioning programming from FBC at token prices, which the company had then used as a PR platform for its business and political clients.[26]

Musa Aman timber corruption[edit]

In April 2012, Sarawak Report published a series of leaked documents from Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), alleging the business relation between Musa Aman, who is the Sabah Chief Minister, and Michael Chia, the middleman in managing kickbacks for timber companies' operations inside Sungai Pinangah Forest Reserve, Sabah. Michael Chia was caught trying to smuggle SGD 16 million out of Hong Kong in 2008. Abdul Gani Patail, the Attorney General of Malaysia who is related to the Musa Aman family, was accused of trying to block the MACC investigation.[27][28] Swiss authorities cooperated with their counterparts in Hong Kong in the investigation of the Musa Aman case.[29] On 11 October 2012, in a written reply to the Parliament, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said Musa Aman has been cleared of the alleged RM40 million kickbacks for timber licences by the Attorney-General's Chambers as "the funds were contributions to the Sabah Umno liaison body and not for the personal use of the chief minister".[30] The Malaysian Prime Minister, Najib Tun Razak, refused to disclose the source of the political donation but he insisted that the money was funded through legitimate channels.[31] In response to the reply by Najib, Sarawak Report released another set of documents on 14 October which pointed the donors to Sabah and Sarawak timber tycoons.[32] In April 2013, Reuters validated that the documents released by Sarawak Report as genuine. Two of the timber firms confirmed with Reuters that the money was transferred to secure the logging contracts. MACC officials also told Reuters that the documents are authentic and Musa Aman was the focus of the investigation.[33]

Riza Aziz and Red Granite Pictures[edit]

In December 2013, Sarawak Report ran a series of exposes on Riza Aziz,[34] stepson of Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, and how he managed to get millions in funding for his film production company Red Granite Pictures. The production company was involved with funding the Oscar nominated movie, The Wolf of Wall Street to a tune of US$100 million.[35][36] Also reported was Aziz's purchase of a US$33.5 million luxury condominium in New York in November 2012.[37] Red Granite Pictures has threatened legal action against Sarawak Report, but no action has been taken so far.[38] In January 2014, Riza Aziz was dropped from a list of nominees for Academy Award for Best Picture after he was nominated by Producers Guild of America (PGA) for the movie "Wolf of the Wall Street".[39]

1Malaysia Development Berhad[edit]

In May 2014, Sarawak Report began to allege that 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) was backing Jho Low's company, Wynton Group, for a bid to purchase Maybourne Hotel Group in London.[40] In August 2014, Red Granite Pictures admitted that its financial backer for film production was Aabar Investments where the latter had a strong investment ties with 1MDB.[41] In March 2015, the website ran several reports about a strategic development fund supported by the Malaysian government and its business dealings. One such report was made about joint venture deal had been initiated by Jho Low on 8 September 2009 between 1MDB and PetroSaudi International, and how Jho Low allegedly siphoned off US$700 million from the deal into an account controlled by him.[42][43] PetroSaudi has denied the reports, while 1MDB has denied any connections with Jho Low.[44] Sarawak Report further alleges that the 1 billion loan paid by 1MDB to PetroSaudi has not been declared to Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), the Malaysian central bank.[45] 1MDB was also accused of providing false documents to Malaysian central bank and other international banks.[46] The website also alleged that US$1.16 billion from 1MDB went into a company account, Good Star Limited controlled by Jho Low,[47] US$700 million into the private AmBank account of Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak,[48] and RM 2 million into prime minister's wife Rosmah Mansor personal account.[49] Jho Low was also accused of paying for Rosmah's jewellery purchases.[50] Najib has since denied that he had taken 1MDB funds for personal gain[51] while Rosmah denied that she has misappropriated the funds from 1MDB.[52] On 4 August 2015, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) announced that the US$700 million was a political donation for United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) held in trust by Najib Razak.[53][54] On 15 August 2015, Sarawak Report alleged that after the 2013 Malaysian General Election, US$650 million out of US$700 million in Najib's account was transferred back to Tanore Finance Corporation (BVI) at Falcon bank in Singapore when his account was closed on 30 August 2013. Tanore Corporation was later closed down in April 2014. The website also alleged that UMNO Back Bencher Chairman Shahrir Abdul Samad, received RM1 million while the Deputy Finance Minister Ahmad Maslan, received RM2 million from the Najib's private account.[55][56]

In July 2016, Sarawak Report released details of the classified Auditor General's Report on 1MDB[57] and BNM letter to Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC),[58] highlighting the inconsistencies of explanations and documents provided by 1MDB.[59]

Reception[edit]

Sarawak Report received both praise as well as criticisms. In 2013, Bridget Welsh, a political science professor at Singapore Management University and an expert on Malaysian affairs, credited Sarawak Report for its “impact on the political debate” over deforestation in Sarawak.[60] and the New York Times called Ms Rewcastle Brown "one of the most effective voices calling attention to deforestation in Malaysia"[61]

In June 2015, following the exposes of the 1MDB scandal, Protection Group International (PGI) alleged that Sarawak Report documents were "inconsistent" and "unreliable".[62] Lester Melanyi, former editor of Sarawak Tribune who worked for Radio Free Sarawak (RFS, sister site of Sarawak Report) for a brief period in 2011, posted a series of videos on YouTube that alleged Sarawak Report for tampering documents related with 1MDB scandal. However, Sarawak Report has since denied the allegations and while questioning Lester credibility and accuracy in making the allegations.[63][64] On 19 July 2015, Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) decided to block access to Sarawak Report because the content of the website appears to be "unsubstantiated" and it may "undermined the stability" of the country.[65][66]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "WHOIS information for sarawakreport.org". Whois. Retrieved 12 October 2012. 
  2. ^ "Sarawak Report Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 7 October 2015. 
  3. ^ "About us". Sarawak Report. Retrieved 6 July 2011. 
  4. ^ Beh Lih Yi (20 July 2015). "Sarawak Report whistleblowing website blocked by Malaysia after PM allegations". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 July 2015. 
  5. ^ https://medium.com/medium-legal/the-post-stays-up-d222e34cb7e7#.dz28lcuhf
  6. ^ "Archive for 2010". Sarawak Report. Archived from the original on 4 April 2016. Retrieved 9 July 2016. 
  7. ^ "About Us - Sarawak Report". Sarawak Report. Retrieved 9 July 2016. 
  8. ^ "Radio Free Sarawak Receives International Media Award In Amman". Sarawak Report. 21 May 2013. Archived from the original on 11 April 2015. Retrieved 9 July 2016. Radio Free Sarawak was established by journalist Clare Rewcastle Brown and started broadcasting in November 2010 ... 
  9. ^ Cohen, David (22 February 2011). "Gordon Brown's sister-in-law tackles corruption in Borneo". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 9 July 2016. 
  10. ^ Croucher, Shane (18 February 2016). "Malaysia: How Clare Rewcastle Brown's Sarawak Report is exposing Najib Razak's 'dictatorship'". International Business Times (UK). Archived from the original on 30 May 2016. Retrieved 9 July 2016. 
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  13. ^ Sarawak Report does a WikiLeaks on 'land grabs' Malaysiakini. URL assessed on 27 April 2012
  14. ^ Tan, Joceline (5 December 2010). "Ready to ride out the storm". The Star (Malaysia). Retrieved 9 July 2016. A news portal known as the Sarawak Report has been making waves among the urban intelligentsia with its explosive exposés and information about the alleged wealth and assets of the Taib family. It is a sort of Wikileaks of Sarawak. Even people in the peninsula are talking about it. 
  15. ^ Exclusive – Taibs’ Foreign Property Portfolio Sarawak Report. URL assessed on 27 April 2012
  16. ^ New Exclusive – Sakti/Sakto Taibs’ Property in the USA
  17. ^ Growing Scandal – The London Connection! Sarawak Report. URL assessed on 27 April 2012
  18. ^ Film Tribute To Ross Boyert Sarawak Report URL assessed on 27 April 2012
  19. ^ “Arrest Taib”! – NGOs Call For Action Sarawak Report. URL assessed on 27 April 2012
  20. ^ "Bakun Dam ‘Unsafe’! – Exclusive Evidence on Corner-Cutting and Sloppy Construction Practices". The Sarawak Report. 13 April 2011. 
  21. ^ Sinohydro admits flaws in Bakun Dam construction procedures Asia Power. Accessed on 27 April 2012.
  22. ^ Taib Paid Out $5 Million To Attack Sarawak Report! – International Expose Sarawak Report. URL assessed on 27 April 2012
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  24. ^ CNBC Dumps FBC Media ! Exclusive Sarawak Report. URL assessed on 27 April 2012
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  26. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/assets/files/pdf/appeals/esc_bulletins/2011/bbc_world_news_apology.pdf
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  28. ^ "Sabah’s Smoking Gun! Bank Statements Show That Musa Aman’s Sons Accessed Dirty Money – National Exclusive!". Sarawak Report. Archived from the original on 11 April 2015. Retrieved 24 July 2015. 
  29. ^ "Yes, We Cooperated With Hong Kong On Musa Aman Case – Acknowledge Swiss Authorities!". Sarawak Report. Archived from the original on 29 January 2014. Retrieved 24 July 2015. 
  30. ^ Musa Aman cleared of graft The Sun Daily. URL assessed on 12 October 2012
  31. ^ Najib says will not disclose source of Sabah Umno’s political donation The Malaysian Insider. URL assessed on 23 October 2012
  32. ^ MUSA’S SECRET DONORS -We Blow The Whistle On UMNO’s Sabah Kickbacks! The Malaysian Insider. URL assessed on 23 October 2012
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  35. ^ Dahalan, Zefry. "Najib’s son fumes over ‘misleading’ report". Free Malaysia Today. Retrieved 8 February 2014. 
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  38. ^ Brzeski, Patrick (6 January 2014). "'Wolf of Wall Street' Financiers Threaten Legal Action Over Article Alleging Corruption". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 8 February 2014. 
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  40. ^ "1MDB Backed Jho Low's £1Billion London Hotel Bid! EXCLUSIVE EXPOSE". Sarawak Report. Archived from the original on 27 March 2015. Retrieved 23 July 2015. 
  41. ^ "Wolf Of Wall Street Backer's Business Links With 1MDB And Jho Low!". Sarawak Report. Archived from the original on 8 July 2015. Retrieved 24 July 2015. 
  42. ^ "HEIST OF THE CENTURY - How Jho Low Used PetroSaudi As "A Front" To Siphon Billions Out Of 1MDB!". Sarawak Report. Archived from the original on 8 July 2015. Retrieved 24 July 2015. 
  43. ^ "Jho Low allegedly siphoned off US$700 million from 1MDB, says website". The Malaysian Insider. 1 March 2015. Archived from the original on 1 July 2015. Retrieved 24 July 2015. 
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  45. ^ "Jho Low Claimed The "PM/ FM" Gave Approval To Keep Bank Negara In The Dark On 1MDB Loan". Sarawak Report. Archived from the original on 9 July 2015. Retrieved 24 July 2015. 
  46. ^ "Investigators Conclude 1MDB "Cheated" And "Made False Document" to Bank Negara, Deutsche Bank And Others EXCLUSIVE". Sarawak Report. Archived from the original on 29 April 2015. Retrieved 24 July 2015. 
  47. ^ "How did billions end up in Jho Low’s account, Sarawak Report asks Najib". The Malaysian Insider. 27 May 2015. Archived from the original on 16 July 2015. Retrieved 24 July 2015. 
  48. ^ "SENSATIONAL FINDINGS! - Prime Minister Najib Razak's Personal Accounts Linked To 1MDB Money Trail MALAYSIA EXCLUSIVE!". Sarawak Report. Archived from the original on 2 July 2015. Retrieved 24 July 2015. 
  49. ^ "Millions In Cash Go Into Rosmah's Account - How Come? EXCLUSIVE!". Sarawak Report. Archived from the original on 24 July 2015. Retrieved 24 July 2015. 
  50. ^ "How Jho Low Pays for Rosmah's Shopping Sprees - EXPOSE!". Sarawak Report. Archived from the original on 5 August 2015. Retrieved 5 August 2015. 
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  56. ^ "'US$650m from PM's account sent abroad after GE13'". Malaysiakini. 15 August 2015. Archived from the original on 15 August 2015. Retrieved 15 August 2015. 
  57. ^ "The Shocking Truth About 1MDB - We Unlock The Officially Secret AG Report". Sarawa Report. Archived from the original on 8 July 2016. Retrieved 8 July 2016. 
  58. ^ "Bank Of Malaysia's Damning Letter To The Parliamentary Accounts Committee". Sarawak Report. Archived from the original on 8 July 2016. Retrieved 8 July 2016. 
  59. ^ "'Probe Sarawak Report for breaking the law, cabinet to decide if to declassify'". Malaysiakini. Archived from the original on 8 July 2016. Retrieved 8 July 2016. 
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  61. ^ Mullany, Gerry (16 August 2013). "Barred From Malaysia, but Still Connecting With Critical Jabs". The New York Times. 
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  64. ^ "Sarawak Report goes for Lester's jugular". Malaysiakini. 21 July 2015. Archived from the original on 24 July 2015. Retrieved 24 July 2015. 
  65. ^ M, Kumar (19 July 2015). "MCMC blocks access to Sarawak Report website". The Star (Malaysia). Archived from the original on 24 July 2015. Retrieved 24 July 2015. 
  66. ^ "Admitting cannot fully block Sarawak Report, MCMC calls circumventors malicious". The Malay Mail Online. 24 July 2015. Archived from the original on 24 July 2015. Retrieved 24 July 2015. 

External links[edit]