Sarawak Report founder refutes claims by man claiming site had forged 1MDB info

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Former newspaper editor Lester Melyani only worked for Radio Free Sarawak until mid-2011 and never for the Sarawak Report whistleblower website, said the site's editor Clare Rewcastle Brown.

"He did briefly come to London after writing to ask me if he could join the Radio Free Sarawak team. He was a former editor of the Sarawak Tribune before he was sacked for publishing an Allah cartoon, so I assumed he had skills. However, he was not very active and I had to sadly drop him from the team back in mid-2011," said the Sarawak Report founder.

Lester had emerged in a video recording recently where he alleged he was aware that the Sarawak Report website had falsified information on debt-laden state fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) in order to topple Prime Minister Najib Razak.

In an email response to The Star, Rewcastle Brown said Lester had never worked for Sarawak Report, and refuted his allegation that he, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, a Latino friend and herself had met in London after the Sarawak elections.

"Lester certainly never met Anwar in London with me. I have only met Anwar on his official visits to London and he was always accompanied by his wife," said Brown.

She added that Lester was not paid by the Bruno Manser Fund, refuting allegations that he was employed by them in 2011, but said she did pay Lester in cash for 15 months from 2012 to 2013.

"He was paid living expenses by a separate donor through me, and he shacked up with a friend of mine to save money. He was not hired for more than about five months and this was terminated after the Sarawak elections, when the record shows the radio station went off-air for a few months," said Brown.

When asked about forged documents and the "1MDB plan" allegations, Brown dismissed them, saying that Lester "makes it sound like Star Trek".

"I have not watched the video, but according to the reports he has brought everyone and pulled them all together into one fantastic plot without a shred of truth or evidence to back it all up," said Brown.

Meanwhile Lester on Thursday said he was standing by allegations towards the website. "My conscience told me to act and speak up," he told The Star in reiterating the allegations that Sarawak Report had worked with opposition leaders in a mission to bring down Najib.