Don’t try me in absentia, says Clare Brown of Sarawak Report 

(The Star) – Sarawak Report founder Clare Rewcastle Brown has described as unfair attempts to push through a case in the Malaysian courts in her absence.

“My position is that I do not accept the ‘out of jurisdiction’ order granted to try the case in Sarawak as being appropriate, especially as it was done in a state I am not even allowed to enter,” said Brown, who was denied entry to Sarawak at the Kuching International Airport last Wednesday.

“I do not think it is fair to push the case through and win it in my absence because of my failure to defend myself and then to try and enforce such a judgement in the UK,” said Brown, the sister-in-law of former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

She has been a verhement critic of Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Taib Mahmud and has published numerous reports of alleged corruption under his administration.

The Sarawak-born Brown is facing a civil suit over her article published on May 1 titled “Dirty Dayak Datuks — BN’s Crony Candidates”.

Taking legal action against Brown are Kapit MP Datuk Alexander Nanta Linggi, Tan Sri Datuk Amar Leonard Linggi Jugah, Greame Iaan Brown, Asian Plantations (Sarawak) Sdn Bhd, Keresa Plantations Sdn Bhd and Rajang Wood Sdn Bhd.

The state government’s ban on Brown from entering Sarawak to defend herself in court has attracted global media attention. 

To the international media, Brown has described the plaintiffs as members of a transnational corporation, which is on the British and European stock exchanges.

The suit, filed a day after the article was posted at Sarawak Report, sought, among others, to have the article removed. Hearings are on going in Sarawak. 

On Monday, although the defendant was not in court, she was represented by See Chee How, PKR’s Batu Lintang assemblyman.

So far, a duplicate of an injunction against Brown has been struck out while a date in August has been set to hear Brown’s application to strike out the entire lawsuit. 

The plaintiffs had applied for two injunctions against the alleged defamatory article.

In an email interview with The Star, Brown said the plaintiffs had also hired lawyers in the UK.

“This strengthens the point that they are conceding that that (UK court) is the appropriate jurisdiction,” she said from London where she has returned to.

“My lawyer has informed me there is a hearing in August to consider our application to have the whole case struck out in Sarawak and the ’out of jurisdiction’ order removed.”

Brown recently won the International Press Institute award for her work on Radio Free Sarawak.

When held at the Kuching airport last week, prior to deportation, Brown made a YouTube video accusing individuals of colluding with the political establishment to abuse their powers in order to silence their critics.

Other notables barred from Sarawak include activists Maria Chin Abdullah, Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan, Wong Chin Huat, Ong Boon Kiong and Kua Kia Soong.