Sarawak Report apologises to Terengganu Sultanah, says 1MDB book was misinterpreted

Founder of Sarawak Report Clare Rewcastle Brown conducts a book signing in Ipoh September 22, 2018. — Picture by Farhan Najib
Founder of Sarawak Report Clare Rewcastle Brown conducts a book signing in Ipoh September 22, 2018. — Picture by Farhan Najib

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KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 27 — Sarawak Report editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown today apologised to Sultanah Nur Zahirah of Terengganu if the latter had misinterpreted her book on the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) financial scandal.

In a statement, Rewcastle-Brown clarified that no claim was ever made in The Sarawak Report: The Inside Story of the 1MDB Exposé to suggest that the Sultanah was conspiring with fugitive tycoon Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low.

“The Sarawak Report does not in any way suggest that the Sultanah was ‘in a conspiracy’ with Jho Low or ‘involved in government administration in the 1MDB affair’ or that the Sultanah was in any way personally connected with the Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA), let alone 1MDB,” she explained in a statement today.

“We are sorry if she has been upset by any misinterpretations of our meaning and trust this clarifies the matter.”

Rewcastle-Brown’s apology came after the Sultanah’s lawyers issued a statement today, notifying the press of the Terengganu Ruler’s wife’s intention to file a lawsuit against the British writer.

The journalist-cum-author said a short passage in her book merely stated that Low had boasted of mixing socially with the royal family, including the Sultanah herself, which led him to opportunities such as obtaining an advisory position on the TIA, a sovereign wealth fund that later became 1MDB.

“We note that the connection between Jho Low and the Terengganu royal family was in fact far closer to the sister of the Sultan, with whom Jho was directly connected in a business sense, and her husband.

“On this basis, later print runs of the book have referred to the sister of the Sultan rather than the wife of the Sultan as being Jho Low’s prime social connection in Terengganu,” she added.

Rewcastle-Brown stressed that the book had never suggested impropriety on any of the relationships nor that the billionaire’s role as a TIA adviser was a corrupt act.

“We therefore suggest that offence has been taken for something that was not implied.

“Furthermore, if the Sultanah says she does not remember meeting Jho, we are happy to accept her position on that. Her sister-in-law most certainly did, but we do not imply either here or in the book that there was impropriety in that relationship either,” she said.

She said she suspected the matter has been deliberately misinterpreted to the Sultanah by “people seeking to cause trouble”.

“We assure her that a careful reading of the short passage should make it clear there is no allegation made against anyone in the Terengganu royal family regarding the 1MDB affair, which took place after any involvement by the state ceased in that fund,” she said.

In her book titled The Sarawak Report: The Inside Story of the 1MDB Exposé, Rewcastle-Brown had written a short passage on page 3 that reads: “Jho was also friendly with a key player in Terengganu, the wife of the Sultan, whose acquiescence was needed to set up the fund and he later cited her support as having been crucial to his obtaining the advisory position.”

On September 14, the Terengganu Royal Council of Regency issued a statement denying the Sultanah’s involvement in any government administrative affairs and in particular, the establishment of the TIA.

The Council also demanded a rectification of the statement and an apology for the “irresponsible” writings.

Earlier today, a statement from Sultanah Nur Zahirah’s lawyer said that she was filing a suit against Rewcastle-Brown over the allegations in her book.

“The suit involved allegations of her Royal Highness Sultanah Nur Zahirah’s conspiracy with Low Taek Jho (Jho Low) and her involvement in government administration in the 1MDB affair,” said the statement.

A media conference on the lawsuit is expected to take place on Saturday in Petaling Jaya.

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