Thanks to a ministerial answer to a parliamentary question, it has been revealed that the Ismail Sabri administration has embarked on another formal application to INTERPOL for a so-called Red Notice to be issued against the editor of this site.
The reasons given appear to mirror those behind the previously rejected attempt made in 2015 when Najib Razak’s UMNO government sought to protect itself against exposures by Sarawak Report relating to 1MDB (i.e. charges in Malaysia for allegedly ‘undermining parliamentary democracy’ and ‘false reports’).
The new request has added a further allegation that the editor has “fled abroad to escape prosecution” over a more recent charge of ‘criminal libel’ relating to an Arrest Warrant that was issued by a Terengganu magistrate’s court in November this year (of which more below).
Few will miss the irony that this statement by the newly returned UMNO leadership was issued on the very same day that the Malaysian Court of Appeal upheld the conviction against Najib based on articles by Sarawak Report that were cited during his trial as having triggered the Malaysian task force investigations into the thieving ex-prime minister.
However, with the same politicians who championed this blatant kleptocrat and protected him from his crimes now back in the driving seat in Malaysia, it comes as no surprise that they are acting in the same manner as before.
Whilst the UMNO brethren have shamelessly allowed Najib to remain within their party ranks, even promoting and flattering him as their financial mentor and allowing him to continue to drive round in a police protected cavalcade, they have sought to re-issue a defunct arrest warrant for the person who exposed his outrageous crimes against the public.
In other words the doubly convicted thief is being allowed to roam free, protected in grand style by the Malaysian police force, whilst the person who exposed him is being hunted by the Malaysian police all over the world!
The UMNO leadership who issued these instructions to their ‘forces of law and order’ need to understand what this does to their country’s image, if only because it impacts on the Malaysia’s ability to earn its income which is what UMNO has lived off stealing.
Had the courts caved on Wednesday, as they were being publicly pressured to do, and surrendered their judicial independence to the UMNO boys back in charge, Malaysia would have been exposed as a failed state run by party overlords. The judge’s stood their ground, which was good for Malaysia’s reputation.
However, for the government to have immediately retaliated by seeking to abuse the instruments of international legal cooperation to avenge their disgraced political leader in such a manner, undoes that work.
Sarawak Report will be advising INTERPOL of the abuse and is confident that the UMNO leadership will once again be internationally embarrassed by its own behaviour following a second rejection of their notice.
It all goes to show that once again, despite their drubbing at GE14 UMNO’s pampered party overlords have learnt nothing. Used to years of excessive power and buoyed by their backdoor coup, they are blatantly indulging in ‘thugocracy’, lionising their big time crooks and churning out self-serving propaganda that defies plain facts for their domestic audience, whilst ignoring the impact on the world beyond.
They should remember this refusal of the truth lost them the election in 2018 and their “bossku” has now also lost in the courts of law. All can see this. Yet, not only are they seeking to revive charges of fake news and insurgency against reporting now proven to be true and validated by the Malaysian people, they have come up with absurd new untruths as well.
The latest statement citing the reasons for the renewed Red Notice demand includes what translates as an allegation that the Sarawak Report editor “was found to have fled abroad to avoid prosecution”. That prosecution appears to relate to a ‘criminal libel’ charge raised only in November of this year, a full three years after an original complaint was made.
The editor of Sarawak Report has not fled Malaysia, she has merely had no reason to visit Malaysia since March of 2020, when she performed a brief return trip just before the Covid pandemic. The charge was raised a full two years after she freely left the country having presented herself at border exit points in the normal way.
Sarawak Report was given no notification of the subsequent court hearing let alone where or when it would take place. The charge relates to a parallel civil case that is based on the exact same complaint. This has been going through the court system since 2018 and is due to be heard shortly by Zoom on the basis that the editor of Sarawak Report does not reside in Malaysia and cannot be expected to travel there, especially during a pandemic.
Nonetheless, ministers say they have instructed police that the writer should be considered a fugitive from justice over this latest warrant issued without notification on the same matter.
The breaches of procedure are therefore glaring as are the infringements on basic rights. The editor of Sarawak Report has not fled Malaysia, she has merely had no reason to visit Malaysia since March of 2020 when she performed a brief return trip just before the Covid pandemic.
She is not a Malaysian citizen, owns no property and does no business in the country. Travelling to Malaysia is an expensive luxury which she has no obligation to perform at her own expense, given she is resident elsewhere.
Indeed, had she not left Malaysia (as she now stands accused for doing) she would have have committed an actual offence by over-staying the period allowed for foreign visitors.
In short, the Editor of Sarawak Report did not “flee abroad to avoid prosecution” for a charge raised in in November 2021, she left Malaysia after a short visit in March 2020 having no reason to remain beyond that date or to return. She had no reason whatsoever to imagine that two years later criminal charges would be raised over a complaint made in 2018 and then filed for ‘no further action’ at that time, let alone that she would be accused of ‘fleeing from prosecution’ for failing to anticipate such charges.
The restored UMNO government are asking INTERPOL to treat it as a guilty act that this editor failed to foresee that the political coup that was taking place in 2020 would within a couple of years make way for the return of the rogue UMNO party that had been slung out in 2018 elections – and that they would then come up with vindictive retribution. Instead, the argument goes, she should have prolonged her visit illegally in order to be on hand and available for arrest under trumped up charges to avenge UMNO’s guilty boss.
Is INTERPOL to be convinced that the decision to simply return home as planned (having presented at Malaysia’s border control and passed its inspections) is an adequate reason to put the world’s borders on alert to arrest a so-called ‘fugitive’?
Malaysia knows the location of the Editor of Sarawak Report, including her home address and telephone number. They are at full liberty to present their case to the UK prosecutors should they wish to do so rather than troubling INTERPOL to activate border police across the world.
This latest statement by Malaysia’s Home Ministry is a nonsense and its actions are amount to nothing but harassment and abuse of process. It represents a second National Embarrassment on the same day as the first.