The Sarawak Report editor says the article remains online and unaltered despite attempts to silence and discredit her before the last general election. https://t.co/EtHTPTbzhT
6 February 2019
The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has begun an investigation into a claim that Umno paid RM90 million to PAS leaders to secure their support for the party, according to a source.
It said the MACC opened the investigation after receiving a report on the matter from the police yesterday.
The source said the MACC would call up several people for questioning as part of its investigation.
“We request all quarters to exercise patience and not make any kind of speculation as to the investigation,” the source told Bernama today.
It said the probe was being conducted in accordance with the MACC Act 2009 and the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001.
The MACC later confirmed in a statement that it had received a report in relation to the alleged RM90 million suspected to be from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) funds deposited into the accounts of several PAS leaders.
It said a member of the public had lodged a police report yesterday and the report was referred to the MACC.
As such, it said, the MACC would begin an investigation based on the relevant powers and laws.
An article carried by the Sarawak Report news portal in 2016 had claimed that Umno paid RM90 million to PAS leaders to secure their support and that the money could have been from 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) funds. – Bernama
5 February 2019
How Hadi Contradicted Himself And PAS Officials During Court Case
As PAS president Hadi Awang and his team of senior party advisors contemplated the opening of his libel claim against Sarawak Report in London on April Fool’s Day, they must have realised there would be some very tough questioning in store.
Most particularly with regard to which versions of the various accounts that Hadi and the party had put out about key factual matters were accurate.
Key areas where Hadi and his allies had differed from one story to another included the Nik Abduh voice tape (which some some PAS spokesmen wrongly alleged Sarawak Report dropped from the evidence in its defence); the cash transfer of RM2.5 million into PAS accounts shortly before the 2018 election and whether PAS has collaborated with UMNO.
Confessions of Nik Abduh
In March 2018 Sarawak Report dropped from its original Defence a lot of the more circumstantial evidence about unexplained wealth exhibited by PAS. At the same time it informed Hadi’s lawyers that it would amend its Defence to rely on, amongst other matters, a voice recording of a senior party figure Nik Abduh which was alleged to contain a confession that large sums of money had flowed into the party from UMNO in a meeting with PAS members that was secretly recorded in August 2017.
The recording has now been widely shared online and is available [here].
On the recording Nik Abduh states the following to his audience (alleged to be a group of PAS members concerned about the rumours that PAS was accepting money from UMNO):
“Tok Guru Nik Aziz took UMNO’s money, Tok Guru Haji Hadi took UMNO’s money, I took UMNO’s money, everyone took UMNO’s money.
Among the reasons why we succeeded was with UMNO’s help. UMNO helped us to achieve victory… That is us being smart. Umno is stupid. Why do people keep asking us about UMNO’s money? This issue is now over. [Translated]
When the audio first appeared online in early 2018 Nik Abduh (who was slated to be one of Hadi’s key witnesses in the case against Sarawak Report) angrily denied on his Facebook that the recording was genuine. He called it a fake and said the speaker was not him:
Furthermore, he denounced the recording as highly defamatory of PAS saying that the speaker was indicating that PAS was involved in the political corruption of UMNO. “I deny it” he fumed, demanding the “culprits” repent soon.
Later Abduh denied again publicly the voice on the recording was him and claimed he hoped the police would investigate, but on the other hand said he would rise above placing a police report. Party Chairman, Takiyuddin Hassan (also one of Hadi’s planned witnesses in the case) told the press it was “a trivial matter” and investigating it was a “waste of time“.
Sarawak Report knew otherwise, thanks to solid sources who confirmed the speaker was indeed Nik Abduh and passed us a full copy of the recording. A report then appeared in the Malaysian press about a forensic voice analysis was being conducted into the tape to determine if the speaker was indeed Nik Abduh.
In response to Sarawak Report’s pleading the tape in the Defence and the court giving permission for expert evidence on the issue, Hadi’s legal response came as a surprise. In a statement filed by his highly expensive London lawyers, Carter Ruck, Hadi acknowledged that the speaker in the recording was indeed his senior PAS party member Nik Abduh after all.
However, Hadi’s plea claimed that, contrary to what Nik Abduh had earlier protested, the meaning of the words on the tape were in fact completely innocuous and did not suggest that PAS was being bribed by UMNO at all.
All that Nik Abduh was referring to, according to Hadi’s statement, was the practice of ‘money politics’ in Malaysia, where UMNO is habitually known to hand out cash for votes at election time or give out donations to Malay worthy causes.
It presented a “dilemma” for PAS, Hadi’s court statement explained, however he claimed Abduh was only referring to ‘long time policies of PAS’ by saying in this recording that PAS voters could accept money and donations but still vote how they like.
There was nothing to suggest corruption with PAS on the voice recording, according to this new explanation provided by Hadi. See excerpt below:
Except, that just weeks before Nik Abduh had denied he was the speaker on the tape, which he said was ‘fake’ and had fumed at the libellous and defamatory nature of what was said. How could Nik Abduh listen to the recording and think it showed corruption with PAS but was a forgery, but his own party leader say quite the opposite: that the recording was of Nik Abduh but did not evidence corruption?
Sarawak Report has sought comment from both Nik Abduh and PAS to clarify their position on the recording, but has never received a response.
This issue would have been addressed at the trial in April, with Hadi and Nik Abduh under cross-examination over the contradiction.
The Bag of Cash
Sarawak Report relied on another strong piece of evidence to corroborate PAS was in receipt of UMNO money in the run up to the 2018 election. Sources detailed how on 21st March last year a known UMNO party official walked into a branch of Bank Islam lugging a bag containing no less than RM2.5 million in cash, which he then asked to be deposited into two of PAS’s bank accounts.
The man, who identified himself as Shamsul Zairil Bin Kamaruddin presented a business card with an UMNO logo, describing him as special officer working for the then treasurer of UMNO, the Najib loyalist Salleh Said Keruak.
Anti-money laundering procedures demanded that full details were taken from Mr Shamsul about the payment and Sarawak Report has obtained records of those details plus the bank details showing exactly which accounts those those payments went to.
RM1 million went into a trust account in the names of three prominent PAS leaders in Terengganu, namely YB Saitiful Bahri Mamat, Shukrimun bin Shamsudin and Muhydin Abdul Rashid.
Another RM1.5 million went into the Tabung Pembangunan JPP PAS Pusat account number 1402 301002 8183 held at the Bank Islam, an election account allegedly advertised in the party’s fundraising.
Both cash injections inflated the two accounts well above their normal balances, showing them to have been significant major donations, according to documentation obtained by Sarawak Report.
An email seeking confirmation from Mr Shamsul has not been immediately replied to and when Sarawak Report rang his number today he acknowledged his identity, but then cut off the call.
So, how did Hadi and PAS respond to the allegations of these large cash payments from an UMNO official, when they were leaked online by third parties before being added to Sarawak Report’s amended defence?
In response to initial queries about the payments, raised by former PAS Vice President Mahfuz Omar last April, the three Terengganu leaders gave a press conference denouncing any suggestion their fund had received money from UMNO, calling the allegation defamation and fraud:
“I want to make it clear that Terengganu State Pas denounces the allegations and defamation that PAS Terengganu has earned from Umno” said Satiful Bahri Mamat
“That is an accusation, a false slander made against Terengganu Pas [translation]
Likewise, Hadi himself also went on the record to say that it was completely untrue that UMNO had paid the sums to PAS, calling his senior former colleague a ‘snake oil salesman’ for suggesting it:
“PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang has described as “childish” an allegation by former PAS vice-president Mahfuz Omar that PAS had received money from certain Umno leaders.
Abdul Hadi said that, logically, no political parties contesting in the general election would give money to their opponents.
“In the 14th general election, PAS will contest Umno’s seats, not DAP’s. And Umno gave us money to fight them? Only a snake oil salesman will say something like that,” he told a press conference after attending the Mega Town Hall Programme 2018 here last night [Free Malaysia Today]
However, a few days later, the senior PAS leader Dr Zhudi Marzuki provided an altered the narrative, admitting that the cash payments Mahfuz had spoken of had indeed entered the relevant accounts on the day described.
Yet, he claimed the cash had been donated by an anonymous wealthy individual (that there were many wealthy individuals supporting PAS and he welcomed more) and definitely had not come from UMNO:
“We face a thousand and one slanders. The most recent is by a former PAS leader who claimed we received RM1.5 million and RM1 million.
“This was a donation from an individual, not from Umno. It did not come from the Umno office,” Zuhdi told a forum organised by Sinar Harian in Shah Alam yesterday.
Expressing gratitude to the donor, Zuhdi, however, did not name the individual. “That is why we say ‘thank you’ to the person who donated – thank you.
“After this, if there is anyone who wants to donate RM5 million, Alhamdulillah,” he added. [Malaysiakini]
However, in response to Sarawak Report’s reliance on the payments in its Amended Defence, in August 2018 Hadi’s lawyers provided a significantly different response about his and PAS’s knowledge of the payments. Hadi stated that he simply did not know where the money had come from but thought it was unlikely to have come from UMNO.
The statement implied that the identity of the donor, who had been required to reveal himself to Bank Islam under Malaysian money laundering rules, was unknown to PAS itself (something that appears not to have troubled PAS or Hadi when publicly denying that the payments were from UMNO).
The leader of a party that claims great moral authority fell back on the excuse that in Malaysia political funding is disgracefully unregulated.
Therefore, whilst Hadi had been happy to reassure the public and his party that the cash sums had definitely not come from UMNO, he at the same time had stated through his lawyers to the London court that he did not know who had donated the enormous cash sums.
The best his lawyers could say on Hadi’s behalf was that the PAS leader thought it was “inherently unlikely that the money had come from UMNO”….
Yet, despite that acknowledgement, Hadi has continued to reassure the public that the money definitely did not come from UMNO. In October 2018 he referred directly to the RM2.5 million payment, saying that claims that the money had come from UMNO was was “a lie aimed at tarnishing PAS’s image”. If Hadi doesn’t know who the money came from, why does he continue to say the reports are a lie?
The PAS leader and his deputies would have had to explain these public statements under cross-examination at trial.
Another issue for trial would have been evidence from Manchester blogger RPK.
RPK was one of the first witness cited in Hadi’s original claim form against Sarawak Report in April 2017. By that point RPK had spent many months engaging in foul mouthed, libellous and threatening tirades against the defendant. He had also been a vocal supporter of Hadi’s libel suit, claiming repeatedly that Hadi’s case would somehow prove prime minister Najib Razak was innocent of 1MDB.
When it became clear to Sarawak Report that RPK coverage was based in part on documents from Hadi’s possession, SR filed a counter-suit for harassment against Hadi for facilitating RPK’s behaviour. Hadi denied any responsibility for the leaks to RPK from PAS or that RPK’s behaviour was harassing. No explanation has been given by PAS as to how Hadi’s documents reached RPK.
Ties With UMNO
Which brings matters to another crucial subject on which Hadi has been wholly inconsistent in the course of his proceedings against Sarawak Report.
In a post this very weekend RPK adopted a ‘so what’ position, acknowledging that there had been exploratory ties between PAS and UMNO leadership figures since at least 2006, but explaining that since the parties were established political foes this matter was kept from rank and file members. Apparently, RPK sees no problem with this lack of transparency.
Yet, in response to Sarawak Report’s defence, which had pointed to the growing and obvious ties between the two parties, Hadi gave evidence denying any collusion with UMNO, stating that: ‘Regardless of the fact that PAS is no longer in the Opposition coalition, we remain in opposition to UMNO and Prime Minister Najib… It is simply not the case that PAS are colluding with UMNO, whether in this libel case, or more generally politically.‘
Those claims made by Hadi looked at odds with the political commentary at the time. Collaboration between PAS and UMNO in the run up to the 2018 election became one of the key political talking points of the period.
Following the General Election and BN’s defeat, the two parties have now openly moved into an effective coalition, collaborating over by elections and working as a united opposition against the new Harapan government, which is made up of PAS’s former allies and the half of the party that split away from PAS to form Amanah in 2015.
So, while Hadi claims that PAS were not colluding with UMNO in April 2018, presumably he would admit the parties are cooperating openly now. The genesis of this open co-operation would have been another issue for trial.
Many explanations have been given by PAS leaders over the past weekend as to why Hadi’s case has settled.
Many excuses have been made by PAS leaders over the past weekend for the settlement of this case. Some have claimed the legal suit achieved the party’s ends by convincing voters before the election that PAS was innocent of taking UMNO cash (and certainly PAS made much of the fact of the litigation as evidence of the party’s innocence). Others just said PAS could no longer afford the case.
Certainly also, by pulling out Hadi has left a large number of evidential issues unresolved by a British court.
PAS has been approached for comment about this piece and have not immediately responded. [to be updated]
4 February 2019
MACC, police must now investigate ‘RM90 million’ case, says Kadir
PETALING JAYA: Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s media and communications adviser today said the mystery over the RM90 million allegedly paid to PAS leaders should now be solved by the authorities, following the recent out-of-court settlement reached by PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang and Sarawak Report editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown.
Kadir Jasin said the truth of the allegations by Rewcastle-Brown in her article published in 2017 could only be known if police and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) open an investigation into the case.
He said the allegations by Rewcastle-Brown in the suit raised questions over PAS leaders commitment to Islamic principles.
“Even if Hadi is in the dark about the alleged RM90 million donation, the detailed facts and arguments by Clare were damaging to PAS,” Kadir wrote on his blog today.
Kadir today said details of Rewcastle-Brown’s counter suit against Hadi had among others revealed that PAS leaders had spent the money extravagantly.
“Clare revealed how they purchased houses and cars at a time when PAS members and supporters were asked to contribute towards the party’s legal fund in the name of its struggle,” he added.
Rewcastle-Brown settlement won’t change public perception of PAS, says lawyer
PETALING JAYA: An out-of-court settlement between Abdul Hadi Awang and Sarawak Report editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown will not change public perception about PAS leaders, a lawyer said today.
SN Nair said the allegations that PAS leaders took money to support Umno and Barisan Nasional (BN) would remain in public memory even after the withdrawal of the defamation suit.
“A settlement does not negate the original allegation by the defendant (Rewcastle-Brown),” the senior lawyer said.
He added that Hadi should have continued with his legal battle until he received a declaration from the court.
“A plaintiff, or one who files a plea, files a defamation suit to vindicate himself to obtain compensation for damage done to his reputation,” he said.
Alternatively, a plaintiff would demand a public apology with or without costs, and offer to withdraw the case.
Under the settlement, however, Hadi had agreed not to disclose the terms of the settlement with Rewcastle-Brown.
Despite the out-of-court settlement, Rewcastle-Brown’s article remains online and unaltered.
Nair said in a defamation suit, it is the plaintiff who will be on trial and who should therefore consider carefully whether to go to court.
“Once filed, the plaintiff must go all out to clear his name and obtain the remedy sought,” he added.
Senior lawyer Ang Hean Leng meanwhile said Hadi’s action meant the status quo would remain unchanged.
He said it appeared that Hadi’s action was not properly planned.
“It also reinforces the perception that the legal action was ill conceived,” he added.
2 February 2019
Sarawak Report once again owes thanks to many Malaysians who came to our support against attempts at legal bullying by the political party PAS, which through Hadi sought to force a retraction and discredit this site in advance of the last election.
The commentary “As Najib Denies All Over 1MDB Let’s Not Forget His Many Other Criminal Connections” has remained online throughout this case and is still online, despite PAS’s president Hadi Awang having withdrawn his case. Sarawak Report stands by the article sued over, including the fact the article never even referred to Hadi.
Hadi’s suit had claimed that Sarawak Report was accusing him personally in the statement:
“Najib … has gone on to “woo” the PAS Islamic party away from the opposition coalition in the normal way he woos – RM90 million is widely reckoned to have flowed into the top echelons of PAS in recent months (BN veterans would tell them they came cheap).” [see article]
Sarawak Report denied that meaning, but asserted that it was true there was evidence of money flowing into PAS.
We stuck to our guns amidst attempts to cost us huge sums of money and a mass of online villification and libel perpetratated by supporters of PAS and Najib. In April, just before the election, PAS leaders even went so far as to falsely claim that they had somehow ‘won’ the bulk of the case a full year before it was due to come to court. Sarawak Report had merely paid costs relating to case management disputes.
In fact, amidst piling evidence, Hadi and his witnesses were facing a full 11 day trial starting this April Fools Day (April 1st 2019) in London. With that reality looming the parties have agreed to discontinue the proceedings, despite PAS party members having stated for months they would ‘never forgive’ Sarawak Report
As part of the settlement Sarawak Report has dropped its counter-claim relating to the harassment by PAS and Najib supporters linked to the case. The remainder of the settlement terms are confidential.
Libel suits are often employed by powerful individuals, who have access to the wherewithal to pay the outrageous fees of London law firms such as Hadi’s Carter Ruck. Generally, the expectation is that defendants will buckle rather than meet the ruinous costs of standing their ground.
However, anyone pursuing a libel action ought to be sure that they are ready and willing to end up in the witness box. Another lesson for potential libel claimants is Hadi’s libel action has given enormous publicity to the article and his alleged meaning, which now remains in the public domain.
Hanipa Maidin points out that Sarawak Report editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown has not issued any apology. https://t.co/Me0IW9glnG
HADI’S ‘RM90 MILLION’ BACKOFF – PAS CHIEF NOW OFFERS TO SETTLE SARAWAK REPORT DEFAMATION SUIT: NO APOLOGY FROM CLARE A SIGN THIS IS NOT A VICTORY FOR HADI AT ALL, SAYS HANIPA https://t.co/YLhUsmp6cn
PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang has decided on an out of court settlement in his defamation suit against Sarawak Report editor, Clare Rewcastle-Brown. https://t.co/G5mAKEMySy