Bersama Clare Rewcastle Brown dalam penyiaran Radio Free Sarawak adalah seorang warga Sarawak yang berbangsa Dayak iaitu Peter John Jaban.
Adik ipar bekas PM Britain urus kempen anti-Taib
KUALA LUMPUR, 23 Feb — Siaran Radio Free Sarawak, stesen radio yang kritikal terhadap kepimpinan Ketua Menteri Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, dikendalikan oleh adik ipar bekas perdana menteri Gordon Brown dan seorang warga keturunan Dayak dari London, demikian menurut laporan London Evening Standard.
Akhbar tabloid itu mendedahkan, Claire Rewcastle Brown juga penulis Sarawak Report, yang sehingga kini merupakan blog tanpa diketahui nama pengendalinya, yang turut mengkritik kerajaan Barisan Nasional (BN) dan mencatatkan 18,000 hit setiap hari.
Menurut akhbar itu, Rewcastle Brown dan Peter John Jaban, yang dikenali sebagai Papa Orang Utan oleh pendengar stesen tersebut, telah memutuskan untuk mendedahkan identiti mereka menjelang pilihan raya umum Sarawak, dijangka diadakan April ini.
Rewcastle Brown, 51, berkata peranannya ialah memberikan “peluang kepada 2.5 juta penduduk Sarawak yang ditindas.”
Rewcastle Brown lahir di Sarawak sebelum negeri bekas jajahan British itu diserahkan kepada Malaysia. Dia tinggal di Sarawak sehingga berusia lapan tahun, kata akhbar itu.
Program radio itu disiarkan dari sebuah restoran di Covent Garden, yang terletak di tengah London, ke Sarawak yang jauhnya kira-kira 10,000km.
Tujuan siaran itu ialah mendedahkan dakwaan rasuah dalam kepimpinan Taib, yang memimpin Sarawak sejak tiga dekad lalu.
The London Evening Standard mengunjungi studio Radio Free Sarawak ketika Jaban sedang menemu bual seorang ketua kampung yang telah dipaksa keluar dari tanahnya. Ketua kampung itu bercakap dengan Jaban menggunakn telefon bimbit dari hutan Borneo.
Rewcastle Brown memberikan penerangan kepada Jaban: “Pastikan anda tanya dia soalan sama ada dia tahu bahawa Ketua Menteri Taib yang telah mencuri tanah mereka? Dan, tanya juga siapa yang dia akan mengundi nanti!”
Menurut akhbar itu, kedua-dua mereka merahsiakan identiti masing-masing kerana bimbang Taib, 74, yang dikatakan salah seorang tidak berbelas kasihan dan lelaki paling kaya di dunia — didakwa lebih kaya berbanding Sultan Brunei, akan mendapatkan mereka dengan apa jua cara sekalipun.
“Bahasa Inggeris masih merupakan bahasa penyatuan di Sarawak dan saya menggunakan blog dan siaran ini untuk mendedahkan pembersihan hutan secara sewenang-wenangnya, di mana 95 peratus hutan di Sarawak sudah ditebang dan digantikan dengan ladang kelapa sawit, yang telah menjadikan Taib dan keluarganya kaya,” kata Rewcastle Brown.
“Apa lagi, siasatan saya menunjukkan wang keluarga Taib (juga) ada di sini, di London dan ini termasuklah hartanah mewah di tengah ibu negara (Britain),” katanya.
Dia menambah, pemimpin parti pembangkang, Baru Bian, seorang peguam hak asasi manusia yang karismatik, mendorong kepada perubahan yang sebenar dalam pilihan raya umum akan datang.
“Tetapi, sungguh memeranjatkan hanya satu pertiga (rakyatnya) yang mendaftar sebagai pengundi dan kerajaan Malaysia yang berasuah tutup mata mereka kerana Taib sentiasa menghasilkan (kemenangan) Sarawak, negeri mereka paling kaya, kepada mereka,” katanya lagi.
Katanya, dia dan Jaban memutuskan untuk mendedahkan identiti mereka selepas ugutan diposkan ke Sarawak Report dan kematian misteri ketua pendedah maklumat mereka di Amerika Syarikat.
“Sebelum Krismas, seorang pembantu Taib di Amerika Syarikat yang tidak puas hati dengannya, Ross Boyert, ditemui mati di sebuah bilik hotel di Los Angeles dengan beg plastik ditemui di bahagian lehernya.
“Inkues ini masih dijalankan tetapi diduga bahawa saya dan Peter juga kemungkinan berada dalam keadaan bahaya. Daripada berselindung, kami memutuskan untuk tampil (dan mendedahkan identiti),” katanya kepada London Evening Standard.
“Ironisnya, Taib dan orang-orangnya menganggap kami ini menjalankan operasi besar-besaran tetapi kami cuma lima orang dengan beberapa komputer bimbit dan sebuah set pengadun (nada). Kemajuan teknologi MP3 bermakna radio dengan gelombang pendek mudah untuk dikendalikan,” katanya.
Pada Disember lalu, pengendali blog Malaysia Today, Raja Petra Kamarudin yang kontroversial juga dilaporkan menyertai Radio Free Sarawak sebagai penyumbang tetapnya.
Stesen itu mula beroperasi sejak pertengahan November lalu sebagai saluran siaran bukan kerajaan.
Menurut maklumat sebelum ini, Radio Free Sarawak merupan stesen radio bukan kerajaan yang menyediakan siaran setiap hari antara pukul 6.30 hingga 7.30 petang pada gelombang 7590kHz dan dari 6 hingga 7 petang pada 15420 kHz.
“Kami begitu efektif sehingga orang Taib sangka kami dibiayai oleh George Soros, yang yayasannya membiayai Radio Free Burma,” kata beliau merujuk kepada jutawan dari Amerika Syarikat itu.
Katanya, dia memulakan kerja-kerja itu dengan kos kurang daripada £10,000 (RM49,000) sebulan pada Oktober lalu.
Kemudian dia menjelaskan, mereka menerima bantuan kewangan daripada rakan-rakan yang tidak mahu diri mereka dikenali.
Bagaimanapun Rewcastle Brown sama sekali menafikan pembabitan Gordon.
“Bukan Gordon,” katanya.
“Sokongan dia hanya dari segi moral,” kata Rewcastle Brown lagi.-The Malaysian Insider
Nothing beats the original story. I'm reproducing the original story from the Evening Standard below:
IN a flat above a restaurant in Covent Garden, an investigative reporter called
Clare and a tribesman from Borneo covered in tattoos prepare to transmit their
daily revolutionary radio broadcast deep into the Borneo jungle.
They make for an unlikely double act - she is a white, middle-aged Englishwoman, and
he the proud grandson of a Dayak headhunter who broadcasts under the pseudonym Papa Orang Utan. Their aim is no less outlandish: to expose the alleged corruption of Taib Mahmud, chief minister of the Malaysian state of Sarawak on the island of Borneo 6,500 miles from London, and bring an end to his 30-year rule.
"This is Radio Free Sarawak," begins Papa Orang Utan, donning his headphones to interview a village headman who has been forcibly removed from his land and who, quite remarkably, speaks to them on a mobile phone from the edge of the Borneo rainforest. Clare briefs Papa: "Make sure you ask if he knows that it's chief minister Taib who has stolen their land? And get who he'll be voting for!"
Until now the identity of the "pirates" behind Radio Free Sarawak has been a closely guarded secret - and for good reason. Scandal-plagued Taib, 74, is one of the world's most ruthless and wealthiest men - richer allegedly than the Sultan of Brunei, whose independent country lies alongside - and locals who oppose him can feel the full force of his retribution.
But today is a watershed: the duo have bravely decided to out themselves ahead of the
upcoming Sarawak elections, expected in April. Indeed, the Evening Standard can reveal that the mystery Englishwoman who set up Radio Free Sarawak four months
ago and who brought out the tattooed tribesman - real name Peter John Jaban - to front her broadcasts is in fact Clare Rewcastle Brown, sister-in-law of former prime minister Gordon Brown.
The last time she was in the public eye was in May 2009 when she published a letter defending the then prime minister's cleaning arrangements in the wake of the expenses scandal. Her piece, "The true story of Gordon Brown, the cleaner and my husband", laid out their "very ordinary shared cleaning arrangements" and explained why The Telegraph's front page "scoop" was groundless.
"My poor husband Andrew," she recalls, "was the face on the front page on the first day of the expenses scandal, which was pretty damn unfair given that Gordon's arrangement with the cleaner was later judged wholly legitimate. The reporters arrived on our doorstep thinking they'd 'got Gordon' but they hadn't done their due diligence and when we presented them with the truth, they didn't want to hear it."
Today she sees less of her husband's older brother, "Gordon and Sarah being mainly up in Scotland", but they are "a close-knit family" and "Gordon is hugely supportive," she says.
Rewcastle Brown, 51, born in Sarawak to British parents in the days before the former British colony was handed over to Malaysia, lived in the region until the age of eight, and she is the author of the hard-hitting Sarawak Report, a hitherto anonymous blog that gets 18,000 hits a day.
"English is still the unifying language in Sarawak and I use my blog and broadcasts to
expose the outrageous deforestation which has seen 95 per cent of Sarawak's
rainforest cut down and replaced by logging and palm oil plantations which have
enriched Taib and his family," she says. "What's more, my investigations indicate some of the Taib family money is right here in London and includes a lucrative property portfolio in the heart of our capital."
Her work, she adds, is also about "giving the 2.5 million oppressed people of Sarawak a choice"."The leader of the opposition party, a charismatic human rights lawyer called Baru Bian, inspires hope of real change in the upcoming election, but scandalously only one-third of the electorate are registered to vote and the corrupt Malaysian government turn a blind eye because Taib always delivers them Sarawak, their richest state."
She says their decision to go public was prompted by death threats posted to the Sarawak Report website and by the mysterious fatality of her chief whistleblower in America. "Before Christmas, Taib's disaffected US aide Ross Boyert was found dead in a Los Angeles hotel room with a plastic bag around his head. The inquest is still pending but there was a sense that Peter and I could be in danger. Rather than hide, we've decided to come out fighting."
She kicks off her leather boots and laughs. "The irony is that Taib and his people think we're a huge operation but there are just five of us with a couple of laptops and a mixer. Advances in MP3 technology mean that these days shortwave radio is cheap and easy to do. We've been so effective that Taib's people believe we're funded by George Soros, whose foundation funds Radio Free Burma."
Her outfit - started in October from the dining room of her loft in Victoria where she lives "in shabby dilapidation" with Andrew and their two teenage children - costs less than £10,000 a month, she says. Initially she funded it herself but she's since roped in some
"better-off friends" who help out "anonymously". "Not Gordon," she hastens to add. "His support is strictly moral!"
Her passionate dedication to a cause 99 per cent of Londoners have never heard of sometimes causes strains, she admits, with friends and family. "But I honestly believe that Taib is probably one of the worst environmental criminals on the planet and that he has taken huge amounts from the country of my birth."
She smiles. "He never saw me coming. When he set up his property companies in 1982, he could never have imagined that some mad woman sitting in her kitchen in London would unravel his property empire simply by scrutinising company reports online."
As an investigative journalist who started with the BBC World Service in 1983, she is
better equipped than most to uncover the wealth of the Mahmud family.
"My investigations have indicated that Taib and his family have a property empire in Canada, the US and the UK. Funds have been generated by Taib selling off rainforests with some of the money going through the British Virgin Islands."
The Evening Standard put these allegations to those who are behind the companies and they were denied.
Rewcastle Brown's passion for the rainforests of Sarawak was kindled as a child when she accompanied her mother, Karis, a midwife, into the jungle. Back then, Sarawak had the most biodiverse rainforest in the world with 3,000 species of trees, 15,000 plants, 420 birds and 221 mammals.
"My mother would drag me to remote clinics to show the indigenous Dayaks what a healthy baby should look like," she recalls.
"Everyone in those villages sleeps in one long-house and my mother frequently saved the lives of their sick babies. As a kid, my first friends were the local children and we used to climb trees and run barefoot, dodging the odd scorpion."
The family came to the UK when Rewcastle Brown was eight and she attended a private boarding school and later finished her masters in international relations at the LSE. It would be 38 years before she returned to Sarawak on a media trip where the degradation of the rainforest - so evident from the air - shocked her to the core.
In 2008 she went back to report on a by-election and secretly film companies clearing rainforest for oil palm. That was when she "fell into a peat bog and nearly died", and it was also when she met Jaban, 46, an election monitor fired from Taib's state-controlled radio for allowing callers to criticise the chief minister.
Last year she invited Jaban to become the voice of Radio Free Sarawak in London. It was a drastic step because it meant that while Taib stays in power, Jaban can never go back.
"I miss my four children, I miss my home," he says, tears streaming. He looks vulnerable, like a fish out of water, but he suddenly straightens. "I am prepared to die for this cause," he says. "In the days of my grandfather, you had to bring a decent clutch of heads as a sign of your masculinity when you got married. Today things have changed but you still have to be a man."
What are their chances of success? Rewcastle Brown ponders for a moment. "People say our man hasn't got a prayer in the election and that Taib will intimidate voters as he always does but I think our reports are having a huge effect and that there's a groundswell for change."
She smiles thinly. "You've got to take heart from what is happening in the Middle East to rulers who seemed equally immovable until just a few weeks ago."