Islamists risk links in 1MDB scandal after trashing defamation suit against Sarawak Report

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Video grab of Hadi Awang PAS leader

Sarawak Report, the whistleblower blog ran by a British citizen born in the former British Crown Colony of Sarawak (now part of Malaysia), is on top of its game once again.

This time around, it published documents which it said shows how the Umno used its proxies (members of the party) to bank millions of Malaysian ringgit in the accounts of members of the Islamist party.

Sarawak Report’s story is a clear cut example of how people have grown suspicious of the PAS and the Umno, this despite the support the Islamists have among traditional Malays in the Malay belt.

The PAS is still a strong force to reckon with in states like Kelantan, Kedah and Terengganu. it won the elections in the states of Kelantan and Terengganu where it is in power.

While the Sarawak Report posts against the PAS shows how the Umno allegedly greased the hands of the Islamists to win their support in the run-up to the May 9th general elections, it also shows how the two Malay-led parties are struggling to clear their names from this scandal.

The two parties have denied any collusion, so far in this matter, but the anti-graft busters are calling PAS members whose names appear in documents showing millions transferred to their accounts from an alleged Umno member to clear the air.

It is also possible for the Umno proxies to be called by the MACC to explain the source of the funds diverted to the accounts allegedly belonging to the Islamist party members.

The Sarawak Report’s blog post is also an indication that Malaysia’s politics have turned dirtier and murkier.

It says the PAS was using its position within the Pakatan Rakyat platform to discuss its future role the Umno as early as 2006.

Nevertheless, this turn of events against the PAS may prove to be a black swan for the Islamists, dashing their hopes for a revival of the Barisan Nasional (with which it has allied) on the peninsula.

After its jubilant victory alongside the Umno at the Cameron Highlands by-elections where the Pakatan Harapan met its first defeat since May 9, the PAS was hoping for a major upset at the March by-election at Semenyih.

The question is whether the backlash faced by the PAS in agreeing to an out-of-court settlement of his defamation suit against UK-based Sarawak Report editor Clare Rewcastle Brown – the niece of ex-UK PM Gordon Brown – will dissipate soon?

Or will it drag the party down the same road with the Umno (which is hit by the 1MDB scandal), tainted by a corruption scandal in the least?

PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang has agreed to an out-of-court settlement for his defamation suit against UK-based Sarawak Report editor Rewcastle Brown, subjected to an undisclosed agreement regarding this settlement.

Hadi consented to withdraw his claims against Rewcastle Brown as the defendant while Rewcastle Brown has withdrawn her counterclaims against Abdul Hadi.

The decision was reached after scrutinising all the court actions taken against Hadi by Rewcastle Brown and after Hadi took into account his lawyer’s advice.

PAS had sued Rewcastle Brown for libel over an article she published on Aug 6, 2016, alleging the party had received RM90 million in bribes from Umno. The Sarawak Report editor filed a counterclaim on October 2017.

With the authorities calling 4 individuals, including PAS members, to probe the matter, the PAS is now facing the prospect of being linked to the 1MDB scandal.