PAS denies paying Sarawak Report editor to settle libel suit

PAS denies paying Sarawak Report editor to settle libel suit

Clare Rewcastle-Brown and Abdul Hadi Awang
British journalist Clare Rewcastle-Brown and Abdul Hadi Awang, President of Malaysian opposition party PAS. (Photos: AFP)

KUALA LUMPUR: Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) on Friday (Mar 1) denied making a payment of more than RM1.4 million (US$343,000) to Sarawak Report’s editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown, in order to settle a defamation suit filed by the party’s president against the British investigative journalist.

This came after Ms Rewcastle-Brown’s lawyer said he received a cheque of more than RM1.4 million on behalf of his client as an out-of-court settlement for the suit filed by PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang.

PAS information chief Nasrudin Hassan Tantawi said on Friday that the bank account number on the cheque purportedly used to pay Ms Rewcastle-Brown was fake.

“Yesterday, photo of a cheque and an account number was made viral to defame PAS, with a new tune of RM1.4 million. There were friends who checked the account number which was made viral by transferring RM5 and RM1, and the account was proven to be non-existent,” he was quoted as saying by Malay Mail.

Rafizi Ramli
Rafizi Ramli speaks to a crowd. (File photo: AFP/Saeed Khan)

However, Mr Rafizi Ramli, the vice-president of Parti Keadilan Rakyat said he successfully transferred RM10 to the Bank Islam account number that was stated in the settlement agreement.

“This proves that the account that was noted in the agreement exists, and so too the RM1.4 million,” he was quoted as saying by The Malaysian Insight.

PAS has been adamant that it did not have to pay Sarawak Report as part of a settlement agreement.

PAS supporters
Supporters of Parti Islam Se-Malaysia gather during the election nomination day in Pekan on April 28, 2018.  (Photo: Mohd Rasfan/AFP)

Mr Abdul Hadi had filed a defamation suit over a 2016 report alleging that PAS had received RM90 million from the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) before the May 2018 general election.

She filed a counterclaim and Mr Abdul Hadi opted for an out-of-court settlement.

On Thursday, Ms Rewcastle-Brown posted on the whistleblower blog a cheque for RM1,422,980 as well as an excerpt of a letter of undertaking to affirm that the sum has been paid.

She also noted that the Sarawak Report had agreed to Mr Abdul Hadi’s condition that both parties should keep the payment confidential.

“Ever since the closing of the case, however, PAS has sought to spin and deceive over the matter,” she wrote.

“Now (Abdul) Hadi’s representatives in PAS have repeatedly broken the obligation imposed on (Abdul) Hadi to keep confidentiality about the terms of the settlement, by not only speaking about those terms but also misleading Malaysians by stating that no payment was made to Sarawak Report in settlement of the claim.”

PAS secretary-general Takiyuddin Hassan stated that Mr Abdul Hadi did not breach any confidentiality agreement.

“It was Rewcastle Brown who had breached the agreement by revealing everything,” he said.

Source: CNA/aw(gs)