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Saturday, February 26, 2011

I’m doing it for the people and the jungle, says British anti-Taib reporter

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 26 — Radio Free Sarawak and the Sarawak Report have been critical of Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud’s state government but there is no political agenda except to save the tribal people and the “priceless” forests of the state, their founder said today.

Clare Rewcastle Brown responded today to accusations of a malicious agenda to bring down the Barisan Nasional (BN) government there, insisting 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.”

The sister-in-law of former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who was born in Sarawak where she lived until age eight, said that she has promised many native people that she will do her best to highlight their plight.

“The Borneo Rainforest is one of the most rare and precious areas of our planet and it would be a worthwhile use of my time to do what I can to join the struggle to save it for our future,” she said in an interview with The Malaysian Insider.

After publicly taking responsibility for the two media on Wednesday, she was accused by Sarawak BN backbenchers chief Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah of being “malicious and dangerous.”

“They have campaigned not only against the Chief Minister but also the nation ... inciting one race to go against another,” Abdul Taib’s political secretary was reported to have said.

But Rewcastle Brown, who operates the radio station and blog out of a flat in Covent Garden, London, said that her financiers and herself “think it is worth doing something to try and help those who are oppressed and to keep our planet beautiful for future generations.”

“This all may be hard to understand for people who are focused only on making money for themselves,” she said of Abdul Karim, adding that his threat of bringing them to book only showed that BN was worried.

“If Abdul Karim thinks we are dangerous, then he means he thinks we are dangerous to the continuing domination of his BN government over Sarawak and we thank him for letting us know he is so worried,” she said.

The 51-year-old journalist, who first worked for the BBC World Service in 1983, added that there are many others who also care about the rainforests and the rights of tribal people and it has resulted in a “wonderful wave of new donations via my website” for her campaign.

Rewcastle Brown has been highly critical of Abdul Taib, accusing him of widespread corruption and illegitimate political practices.

However, others have also made these allegations before but the 74-year-old chief minister has remained in power for 30 years.

He must call a state election by July this year and is widely expected to dissolve the state assembly by April. - Malaysian Insider

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