"Truths Annoying To The Malaysian Prime Minister Do Not Cut Muster With British Law"

After suspending two publications from The Edge, the Home Ministry is now mulling action against Sarawak Report editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown.

Cover image via The Malay Mail

Responding to the Home Ministry's statement that Malaysia might get Britain's help to extradite Clare Rewcastle-Brown if a "prima facie" case is established, the Sarawak Report (SR) editor said:

"..the Malaysian government should have a more "articulate reason" if it wants to extradite her to Malaysia to face charges of "meddling" in Malaysian affairs."

"He had better articulate a reason. 'Truths annoying to the Malaysian prime minister' do not cut muster with British law," she told The Malaysian Insider last night.
Image via TMI

Rewcastle-Brown was asked to respond over Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi's statement that she might be extradited to Malaysia, following from the results of an ongoing police investigation

"Sarawak Report has not committed a crime recognisable in the UK (any more than in Malaysia), so how can we be extradited?" questioned Rewcastle-Brown on Sunday. She also questioned whether she could be extradited if she was to face sedition charges in Malaysia.

"As for 'sedition', this has not been prosecuted in the UK for hundreds of years and it was abolished as a crime by the present Prime Minister - so he is unlikely to be enthusiastic about the idea if UK citizens being tried for it elsewhere.

“No one in Malaysia has ever successfully defined what sedition means anyway. Is reporting a crime sedition if it annoys powerful people?" she asked.

The Home Ministry's statement had come a day after an NGO called Pertubuhan Minda Sosial dan Prihatin (PMSP) submitted a memorandum to the British High Commission in KL, asking the UK to prevent Rewcastle-Brown from interfering in Malaysia's affairs

About a dozen members of the organisation were seen outside the office holding a banner that read, “Clare, stay away from Malaysia.”

Image via TMI

PMSP branded SR's coverage on 1MDB as a colonialist conspiracy

The group charged that Sarawak Report's exposes on debt-ridden state investment firm 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) were an attempt to "colonise" the country.

The organisation’s bumiputra affairs chief Mohd Faizan Alias said the British colonised Malaysia before and could be trying to destabilise the country to do so again.

He said foreigners had no right to meddle in Malaysia’s affairs, which should be dealt with internally.

Meanwhile, a PKR lawmaker has said Zahid's threat to extradite Rewcastle-Brown over articles attacking 1MDB has no legal basis

PKR's N. Surendran.

Image via The Malaysian Times

“Zahid's claim that Rewcastle-Brown can be extradited is inconsistent with both UK and Malaysian law, and is simply laughable. Does Zahid seriously expect the British government to allow the extradition of one its citizens to Malaysia merely for having exposed a multi-billion dollar financial scandal?” asked PKR Padang Serai MP N Surendran in a statement today.

“Zahid was not even able to identify the offence which Clare is alleged to have committed under our laws. He only says that Clare ‘interfered with Malaysia’s affairs’ and that her exposé had ‘ill-intentions’. These are not criminal offences either in Malaysia or the UK,” the lawyer added, referring to Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

He said UK's Extradition Act 2003 requires the person to be extradited to have committed an act which also constitutes an offence under UK laws, adding that the Home Ministry is desperate

“A prima facie case of such an offence would also have to be proven to enable the UK district judge to make an extradition order,” he said, arguing Rewcastle-Brown has not contravened any UK law.

“This is nothing more than a desperate attempt to run down and criminalise Sarawak Report and Rewcastle-Brown for having exposed the 1MDB scandal and for implicating Najib,” said Surendran.

“Instead of answering the allegations made by Sarawak Report, which are backed up by documents, they are trying to sidetrack the issue by focusing on imaginary crimes committed by Sarawak Report and Clare,” he said.

The MP said the home minister’s “wild and legally untenable threats” against Rewcastle-Brown, who is the sister-in-law of UK’s former prime minister Gordon Brown, only served to “further damage our country's reputation internationally”.

Previously, Ahmad Zahid had said in a statement that he is referring to claims of foreign intervention in the internal affairs of the country

Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi

Image via Yusof Mat Isa

“Even though the freedom of speech is celebrated here in Malaysia, however any information that is altered or forged cannot be accepted. What more if the online news by Clare Brown has bad intentions,” Mr Ahmad Zahid said in a statement.

“If there is any criminal element by Clare Brown, the bilateral ties in the exchange of confidential information between Britain and Malaysia are already present.

“The Home Ministry will work together officially with the British government via Wisma Putra, if there is any ‘prima facie’ to take legal action on Clare Brown,” he added.

He said cooperation between the Royal Malaysian Police and Scotland Yard is well-established, which will help smoothen things if they need to execute an extradition order for the founder of the whistleblower site.

"The principle of 'sovereignty' is recognised between countries. Certainly, the British will not condone it if any of its citizens interfere in the internal affairs of another country," he said.

Ahmad Zahid said although Malaysia celebrates freedom of expression, it will not tolerate information that has been tampered with, neither would it accept fabricated news. "This is (serious) especially if Rewcastle Brown’s expose is done with malicious intentions," he added.


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