The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) explained that Clare Rewcastle Brown, editor of Sarawak Report, a whistleblower website, was merely interviewed briefly at the Woodlands Checkpoint at 1:00 am on Saturday, September 15, and not detained, as indicated in Sarawak Report’s Facebook page.
A post on the page also said that Ms. Rewcastle Brown’s name had been included in a blacklist in 2016.
The ICA announced on Monday, September 17, that they had interviewed Ms. Rewcastle Brown for a little longer than a quarter of an hour.
“A short interview was conducted as part of the immigration clearance process. Our records showed that she departed Singapore 16 minutes later.”
Ms. Rewcastle Brown was en route to Malaysia when she was questioned by the ICA, after the launch of her book, The Sarawak Report, an expose on the scandal that rocked Malaysia involving the state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
Three years ago, Ms. Rewcastle Brown was instrumental with exposing the multi-billion-dollar scandal at the fund, now under investigation for money laundering in several countries. The involvement of financier Jho Low (Low Taek Jho), who is now at large, was also disclosed when the scandal erupted.
Ms. Rewcastle Brown said that her passport had shown an alert the checkpoint, and that immigration officers were astonished that she had actually gotten through Changi Airport without being questioned when she arrived. “They acknowledged that they could find no reason for this blacklisting and they appeared to have referred upwards, and were instructed that I could be allowed on my way.”
When asked concerning Ms. Rewcastle-Brown’s inclusion on a blacklist, the ICA did not respond.
However, upon the advice of Singaporean officials, Ms. Rewcastle-Brown announced the possibility that she might discuss the matter with the British High Commission in Singapore.
Ms. Rewcastle Brown expressed surprise that her name would be included on a blacklist and found it “mysterious that the authorities of the state apparently had no record as to why this should be”.
The ICA reported that she was released on “very cordial” terms. And when she told them of her part in disclosing the 1MDB scandal, the ICA officers congratulated her and shook her hand.
The ICA has said that visitors to the country should be prepared for added safety checks and interviews, and request the cooperation of all parties traveling to Singapore, citing national security interests.
Ms. Rewcastle Brown has had no previous troubles traveling to Singapore, although she skipped a conference in November 2015, after being warned by Malaysian locals that she could be captured. The former government endeavored to block her site, since former Prime Minister Najib Razak has been accused with abuse of power in connection with funds transferred from a former 1MDB unit as well as money laundering. He has claimed innocence in the matter.
After May 9, when Dr Mahathir Mohamad came into power as the new Prime Minister of Malaysia, the ban on Ms. Rewcastle Brown’s website was lifted.