Bye Bye Sarawak Reports!
13 Oct 2011
Taib Mahmud’s $5million dollar a year ‘Cyber-war Campaign’ has conceded a humiliating defeat, with the final demise of the site ‘Sarawak Reports’.
Sarawak Reports was part of a vicious network of internet sites, set up by the crooked UK-based production FBC Media, in a hired attempt to undermine this blog and to attack the opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim.
By adopting a virtually identical name to our own, FBC clearly hoped they could confuse web-surfers into reading their pro-Taib propaganda, instead of our research into Taib’s 30 years of corrupt government.
However, there is little evidence that readers were in fact fooled by this costly exercise. The site never dared to publish the handful of comments it received for its stories, which were little more than dreary ‘puff pieces’ praising Taib’s ‘progress and development’ policies.
The site also carried a permanent section devoted to attacking the Editor of Sarawak Report and family members.
Collapse of Cyber-war campaign follows exposure of FBC Media
After Sarawak Report started to investigate, the whole truth behind the scandal came out. We showed how FBC Media had commissioned a team of Republican bloggers in the States to write a series of attacking articles in a supposedly non-sponsored website called New Ledger.
These articles, by unheard of Americans, were then reproduced in Sarawak Reports as if they represented influential thinking in the US.
Worse, we discovered a similar campaign was being carried out by the very same people against the opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim, and this time the person who commissioned the attacks was the PM himself, Najib Razak!
The scurrilous articles about Anwar, written for New Ledger by non-entities in the States, were being reproduced in a separate blog called Malaysia Watcher. Just this week the PM was forced to admit that his office has spent RM 84 million on such campaigns with FBC Media in just three years!
We can now report that Malaysia Watcher is likewise no longer accessible.
Furthermore, since our exposes in late July, New Ledger has ceased publishing any stories about Malaysia, Sarawak Report or Anwar Ibrahim. In June approximately half of all the articles written for this supposedly US-focused website had consisted of attacks on Anwar and SR, which were then being reproduced in Malaysia Watcher and Sarawak Reports!
Illegal TV programmes commissioned by Taib and Najib
Of course, the most sensational part of the whole affair has been the revelation that FBC also did deals with both Najib and Taib to place promotional TV films about them and about BN’s policies on some of the world’s most respected news channels, including the BBC and CNBC.
FBC held production contracts for a number of supposedly objective news shows and documentary series and the company was illegally selling the airtime as advertising space for high-spending politicians and companies, including Malaysia and the palm oil industry.
Sarawak Report even gained copies of the contract between FBC’s Chairman, Alan Friedman and Taib, in which the Chief Minister was promised a series of opportunities to improve his bad reputation on human rights and the environment.
One of these films, aired on CNBC’s World Business (a show produced by FBC Media), claimed that 80% of Sarawak’s forests have been left undamaged and untouched by Taib’s logging and oil palm plantations!
After Sarawak Report broke the scandal, both BBC World and CNBC terminated all contracts with FBC Media, pending investigations.
The UK regulatory authority Ofcom is also conducting a full-scale investigation into how politicians like Taib and Najib were able to spend millions of their own taxpayers’ money on such vanity TV projects, which was against broadcasting laws.
So, the FBC Media expose has meant a set-back not just for Taib’s ‘Cyber Campaign’, but for his whole ‘Global Media Strategy’, into which he has poured millions of taxpayers’ hard earned money.
Najib has likewise been exposed for the same misjudgement and complicity in the corruption of respected international TV stations, all at the enormous expense of public funds!
What about CNN?
Sarawak Report and other news media in the UK and US are awaiting the final reports of Ofcom, The BBC and CNBC into these scandals.
Meanwhile, the position of CNN still remains highly questionable. Because this station was also carrying programmes featuring Najib and other FBC clients at a time when FBC’s President, John Defterios was anchoring the relevant CNN shows and programmes.
CNN has so far claimed that it is not prepared to investigate such placement of FBC clients on their shows or the connection with Mr Defterios, because it says John Defterios had already resigned from FBC when he became a staff presenter in March of this year.
In fact the records show that Mr Defterios did not resign until 4 days AFTER our expose on FBC in Sarawak Report at the end of July! Indeed, just three weeks previously he had aired a much-criticised interview with Najib Razak for CNN. Commentators at the time were outraged that he had let the PM off far too lightly over the teargassing and beating up of peaceful protesters during the July 9th Bersih rally.
Under US broadcasting laws any such conflicts of interest should be openly declared, whether or not the interested members of the production team are on contract or staff. For this reason Sarawak Reports is reporting CNN to Ofcom for its refusal to examine the potential corruption of its content by a current senior member of its staff.
Not over yet
The PM and CM’s global strategic media strategies may now be in tatters, and the attack sites Sarawak Reports and Malaysia Watcher may be finished. New Ledger may also have gone back to attacking US Democrats instead of Malaysian liberals, however there is plenty to go on this story.
Armed with taxpayers cash, it seems more than likely that Taib and Najib will be already going about planning how to come back with a second wave of ‘media warfare’ against those who are seeking to expose corruption in Malaysia.
But, chances are they will be wasting that cash once again, because once the truth is out it is impossible to hide.