7 Key Points & The Glaring Inaccuracies From Lester Melanyi's Sarawak Report Video Exposés
It's Lester Melanyi's word against Sarawak Report and opposition lawmakers as he continues to release 'confession videos' alleging that the whistleblower site forged 1MDB documents to topple PM Najib Razak.
Lester Melanyi claims Tun M talked to Sarawak Report editor but could not provide evidence
The alleged conversation was recorded sometime last year by a Sarawak Report staff by the name Amy Whitefield, said Lester. Amy then confided in him about the conversation, in which Clare was allegedly told to write against the government, through email some months back, he added.
However, he was unable to produce concrete evidence, including the said recording of the conversation, during the press conference, which prompted a barrage of questions from the journalists.
Pertubuhan Minda dan Sosial Prihatin president Ramesh Rao and his organisation’s legal advisor Hafiz Ahmad Ansari had to intervene and answer on his behalf several times as Lester struggled with speech impediment.
Hafiz said the document, containing thousands of emails to prove that the conversation did exist, was never acted upon by the police. He alleged that the police had left the document in Ramesh’s office in Petaling Jaya and had not collected it.
When contacted, however, Amy denied Melanyi's allegations, calling them "ludicrous" lies and that neither of them have evidence to back up his statements
When contacted, Amy, who pointed out that Lester got her surname wrong, rubbished the claim.
"I met Lester when I volunteered with Radio Free Sarawak back in 2011 in London. I have not communicated with him since 2012. Lester initiated a couple of emails to me in 2014 but I never responded as I felt them to be a fishing exercise. I do know Clare and continue to work with her," she said in an email to Malaysiakini.
23 JULY: Man who claims Pua's wife has RM3 million in an overseas account is a bankrupt
A former aide to a DAP lawmaker accused Tony Pua’s wife of having RM3 million in an overseas account. Tony Tan Chee Chong had urged Pua to respond to this within a week or he would go public with the proof he had.therakyatpost.com
Yesterday, Tony Pua posted on his Facebook page 3 letters confirming Tony Tan Chee Chong, Lester Melanyi and Ramesh Rao are all bankrupt.
22 JULY: Tony Pua barred from leaving the country
DAP lawmaker Tony Pua, who is one of the central figures in the ongoing 1MDB saga, has been barred from leaving the country. The Petaling Jaya Utara MP said he was to fly to Yogyakarta, Indonesia, for work purposes when he was stopped by the immigration at low-cost carrier terminal KLIA2 at 3.15pm.malaysiakini.com
"They stopped me and told me I can't go aboard. They said the instructions came 'from above'. No reasons were given why I was prevented from leaving," he explained.
Pua was implicated in a video confession by former Sarawak Tribune journalist Lester Melanyi, who claimed the opposition fabricated 90 percent of the documents in collaboration with whistleblower website Sarawak Report.
Sarawak Report will be taking legal action against Umno Minister and New Straits Times
Sarawak Report said today that it will take legal action against an Umno minister, pro-government newspaper New Straits Times and others for the "malicious" falsehoods they have promoted to destroy its credibility.
The whistle-blower site took Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Seri Abdul Rahman Dahlan to task for using the word "scum" on the site's founder and editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown and it may also issue libel proceedings against other parties like the New Straits Times and publications that it claims have deliberately reported falsehoods to damage its credibility.
They have paraded a sick and discredited individual, who has poured out strings of lies, which none of them have sought to check out, in order to claim this as “proof” that our research was all “forged”. This would be entertaining for being so ridiculous, given the mass of evidence that supports all we have written.
Mr Dahlan has not produced a single shred of evidence that would lead anyone to believe the ravings of the mentally unbalanced bankrupt, Lester Melanyi. We therefore accuse Mr Dahlan of criminal libel, motivated by malicious intent.
We will also report Mr Melanie’s vicious criminal libel to the local police (he’s not worth suing) and we warn him and anyone who continues to promote his present and future made up stories that we will seek appropriate damages.
21 JULY: Lester Melanyi, who claims to be a former journalist of Sarawak Report, has released the second part of his video exposé over the whistleblower site's articles on 1MDB. Melanyi released Part 1 on 15 July, where he implicated some opposition lawmakers and the site as part of a conspiracy to taint and topple PM Najib Razak.
1. Melanyi claims that he has been working with Sarawak Report since 2011 and has even spent time in London between 2012 to 2013. He also alleges that Sarawak Report and its sister organisation Radio Free Sarawak is funded by non-profit conservation group Bruno Manser Foundation (BMF).
Lester clarified that he is not a former editor with SR as some news outlets have reported but was the Sarawak representative for the website and its sister company, Radio Free Sarawak, both of which he said were supervised by Rewcastle Brown.
“I started working with Sarawak Report as well as for Radio Free Sarawak for one year and three months. I did not have any official letter to appoint me as the representative, but it was based on a mutual understanding. I stopped working for Sarawak Report last year because I felt that Sarawak Report had deviated from its original aim, from highlighting issues on environment to now politics,” he said.
2. Opposition lawmakers are involved in a scheme to discredit and topple current Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak. Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as well as DAP's Tony Pua and PKR's Rafizi Ramli are said to have contacted Sarawak Report founder Clare Rewcastle-Brown to forge 1MDB documents to be used in news articles.
Lester named Pua and PKR’s Rafizi Ramli as the two opposition members that he knew were involved in the conspiracy that he claimed revolved around forgeries built from information secured from former PetroSaudi International executive Xavier Andre Justo.
Lester claimed that he knew of Pua’s participation because the latter had communicated with him to ask if the former journalist was part of the “1MDB action”.
3. Melanyi has met former PetroSaudi International executive Xavier Andre Justo, who is currently being investigated by Thai police over blackmail allegations. Melanyi also believes that Justo did not blackmail PetroSaudi nor tamper with the documents he had allegedly stolen from his previous employer.
Melanyi claimed to have met ex-PSI director Xavier Andre Justo “two, three times” in London between 2012 and 2013, and was convinced that the latter was not capable of blackmailing his former employer.themalaymailonline.com
"He cannot be a criminal and to say he blackmail(ed) PetroSaudi, it’s too hard to believe and that he tampered the emails… definitely not true," said Melanyi in the video.greatermalaysia.com
4. Melanyi claims that Rewcastle-Brown has also met with Justo in London. Only 10% of the documents in his possession have been provided to Sarawak Report. The other 90% were fabricated by "the opposition people" with the help of a web designer.
"Another 90 percent are all created by Malaysian people, the opposition people. He did not tamper (with) it. The web designer in London is very good in doing it. If you ask him to create money, he can create money for you and it may look genuine," he added in the video, which was made available to The Star.
Describing Justo as a "pleasant guy", Lester said he does not believe Justo was a criminal nor did Sarawak Report editor-in-chief Clare Rewcastle Brown pay him to leak the information to her. He claimed that Justo and Rewcastle were introduced by a Bruno Manser Fund (BMF) director to purportedly "create stories" and make them look "juicy".
"He flew from Switzerland to London to see whether what Clare can do with these things kind of stories about Malaysia to attack Najib (sic)," he added.
5. The fabricated e-mails and agreements in regards to 1MDB were created by a web designer called James Steward Stephens, said to be working part time with the BMF and faked the documents under Rewcastle-Brown's instructions
The designer was also responsible for creating “90 per cent” of the forged documents on 1MDB under the direction of SR editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown based on information she obtained from former PetroSaudi International executive Xavier Andre Justo, Lester further alleged.themalaymailonline.com
6. When questioned how he knew the documents were not real, Melanyi explained that he has been in constant contact with the web designer. He also said that he has been telling people about the fabricated documents from the very start.
7. Melanyi also claims that copies of Sarawak Report's articles are e-mailed to him before they are printed so he can edit them
Melanyi's video confession has gotten support by Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government minister Datuk Rahman Dahlan, who criticised DAP's Lim Kit Siang for doubting Melanyi's credibility and telling him to focus on the message instead of "shooting the messenger".
Rahman, who is also BN's newly-appointed strategic communications director, revealed the contents of a police report that was made after the confession video was released.
Writing on his Facebook page, Rahman said Lim should instead welcome Melanyi's confession and encourage the police to investigate the matter.
"Sadly Kit Siang chooses to ignore the message and instead, vilifies and demonises the messenger," he said.
Rahman alleged on Wednesday that opposition politicians had worked with Sarawak Report to forge documents leading to the many exposes on 1MDB.
He said there was "solid evidence", including an alleged video confession, provided in a police report lodged by Ramesh Rao Krishnan Naidu, the president of Pertubuhan Minda dan Sosial Prihatin (PMSP), a Barisan Nasional-friendly non-governmental organisation.
The Kota Belud lawmaker added it took “guts” for someone to make a video confession and implicate big names and Melanyi had the guts to do so.
“I am sure Lester knew very well that he would be subjected to intense public scrutiny and thorough police investigation by doing the video confession. He knew he risked defamation suits by those he named. Yet he did it anyway! Why? Could it (be) because Lester has more incriminating info in his possession that he has yet to reveal? We shall wait and see.”
Abdul Rahman said it was the courage demonstrated by Melanyi that led him to insist that a thorough investigation be done to verify Melanyi’s allegations.
However, statements from the implicated opposition MPs, Rewcastle-Brown, a recently published article on Sarawak Report, and even Melanyi himself has poked more than a few holes in Melanyi's alleged confessions:
1. Nurul Izzah has rubbished claims that her father was involved in the "ridiculous" scheme. Tony Pua and Rafizi Ramli also denied having ever met or heard of Melanyi, let alone contact him about forging 1MDB documents.
Nurul Izzah who is also PKR vice-president pointed out that her father was imprisoned in early February, months before the July 2 publication of a controversial expose of the allegedly leaked documents said to implicate his political foe, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
“How could he (Anwar) have forged the documents when he’s been in prison since February?” the Lembah Pantai MP was quoted as saying by The Star daily in its report today.
"What stunned me was Lester’s 'confession' that I had 'communicated once' with him in January. Allegedly, I had asked him whether he was 'on this 1MDB mission' and he had responded to me that he wasn’t. Instead, he had allegedly told me 'to communicate with Clare (Rewcastle-Brown) directly.
"I have never known or even heard of a 'Lester Melanyi' in my entire life before the first video, much less 'communicated' with him!" he said.
"I have never known Lester Melanyi nor have I been in contact with him. The first time I knew about his existence was when Rahman revealed the contents of the police report. I have never given instructions to Sarawak Report or gave materials to be published by the portal. No contacts were made with Sarawak Report or talked to their editor Clare Rewscastle-Brown about 1MDB. Throughout my career, I have only worked together with the portal on the timber scandal in Sabah," said Rafizi in a statement.astroawani.com
2. Sarawak Report founder Clare Rewcastle-Brown has been quick to deny the "pack of lies" Melanyi has "peddled" in his confession videos. In fact, Rewcastle-Brown revealed that Melanyi had never worked for the site and even made public some e-mails between her and Melanyi to prove that he was not involved in the 1MDB exposé.
Melanyi had never written a "single word" for the site, Rewcastle-Brown said, although he had worked for another initiative of hers, the independent radio station Radio Free Sarawak, in London.
Melanyi is in fact a former editor of Sarawak Tribune, a Bornean newspaper which had been suspended after it published controversial cartoons of Prophet Muhammad in 2006, she said, and he had resigned from the paper over those cartoons.
In an email interview with The Malaysian Insider, she said the emails sent by Melanyi to her, from March 1 till recently, revealed that he knew nothing about the 1MDB expose or what she was doing, given that he had asked very "basic questions".
She said this gave her the impression that he was merely "fishing" for information. Rewcastle-Brown added she only gave Melanyi polite but distant one-liner replies in her emails, adding that she had not seen him for many years.
"The whole story that I had somehow asked him to be involved in producing the articles and about forging documents is rubbish. It is clear he is completely out of the loop on the whole thing and was asking basic questions, neither is there the slightest reference at all to any exercise of such a nature," she said.
3. Rewcastle-Brown denies having met Justo in London, though she admits to have funded air tickets for Melanyi's travels to London. She also denies that Sarawak Report is funded by BMF, as claimed by Melanyi.
“He is clutching at straws because some friends from BMF came over and visited the radio station while he was there. We had a party. I have an independent donor for the radio site and I use that to fund my travel and my website manager manages that side of what I do and he works pro bono on SR’s needs,” she said.thestar.com.my
4. The web designer Melanyi accused of forging 1MDB documents is actually a senior station manager for Norwich-based bus company Abellio, James Steward. The photo used in Melanyi's video was lifted from a website where Steward was featured for giving a local talk on his actual job.
The picture appears to have been lifted from the website of the East Anglia chapter of RailFuture, a British advocacy group for better passenger and freight rail services, and which was used for a summary of a talk Steward gave in 2010 as Norwich area station manager for National Express East Anglia (NXEA).
In the 2010 entry, Steward was described as having worked in rail services for nine years and was a member of the trust council at the Mid-Norfolk Railway where he also served as operations director. Steward has since joined another rail service provider, Abellio Greater Anglia, where he works as their Ipswich area customer service manager.
“James Steward (not James Steward Stephens) is an employee of ours,” Lucy Wright, a media officer with Abellio Greater Anglia, told Malay Mail Online via email this morning.
“This is a case of mistaken identity and James Steward does not have any connections with Malaysia and he is in no way connected with the alleged forgery.”
5. Melanyi's claims that he receives advance copies of Sarawak Report articles has been debunked. Screenshots of "e-mails" he received are actually newsletters from Sarawak Report, which are received by over 7,000 people in the news portal's subscriber list.
Another ridiculous and easily disproved claim by the somewhat tragi-comedic figure of Mr Melanyi was that Sarawak Report has been sending him “advance copies” of our articles for him to re-write before publication.
To illustrate this boast Lester’s video duly flashed up screen shots of our regular newsletter bulletins which are sent to over 7,000 subscribers to our site, who have signed up to be notified whenever we post a new story.
That means that over 7,000 people can testify directly that Lester is talking nonsense.
In a shocking revelation, Melanyi admitted to The Malay Mail Online that he has received money to expose Sarawak Report and its founder in forging documents to include in the news portal's exposé articles. However, he maintains his earlier claims.
“Yes, some of the comments are true. I am not ashamed to say that I have received money from certain people,” Lester told Malay Mail Online in an exclusive interview. He declined to reveal the amount he had received and its source.themalaymailonline.com
The drama does not end here. According to Pertubuhan Minda dan Sosial Prihatin Malaysia's Ramesh Rao Krishnan Naidu, who lodged a police report for Melanyi and claims responsibility for the videos, there are two more parts that will be released in due time.