ENGAGE launches Freedom Fund 2.0 to crowdfund for Rewcastle-Brown, Gerakbudaya & Vinlee Press

ENGAGE – an NGO working on electoral and democratic reforms – is re-launching its Freedom Fund, a revolving fund it first initiated in 2015 to provide financial assistance to those whose rights under Article 10 of the Federal Constitution has been affected – whether they are fined, jailed, sacked or had privileges withdrawn.

The primary purpose for Freedom Fund 2.0 is to help Sarawak Report editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown, Gerakbudaya Enterprise and Vinlin Press who had to pay the Sultanah of Terengganu a total of RM300,000 in damages and RM120,000 legal cost in equal proportion.

This comes about after the Court of Appeal (CoA) in December 2023 overturned the High Court’s decision last year that dismissed the defamation suit in Clare and the two defendants’ favour.

So far, around RM128,000 has been raised by Clare from the UK. While the case is still under appeal to the Federal Court, the three respondents are required to standby the full sum in case the Federal Court uphold the CoA’s decision.

However, should the Federal Court overturn the CoA’s decision and the money raised is no longer needed for these three respondents, it would remain as part of Freedom Fund 2.0 to help others that fulfill ENGAGE’s criteria.

The alleged defamation was a simple matter of mistaken identity in the first version of Clare’s book The Sarawak Report: The Inside Story of the 1MDB Exposé where sister of the Terengganu ruler who introduced 1MDB fugitive Low Taek Jho a.k.a. Jho Low to the Terengganu Investment Authority was misidentified as the Sultanah.

Though this error had been being corrected in subsequent versions of the book, the legal action continued.

Furthermore, the government initiated another criminal defamation action against Clare with the case moved to Terengganu which is the complainant’s home state.

Subsequent to this, the Magistrate’s Court sentenced Rewcastle-Brown to two years jail in her absence. No notices, summons or information was given to her lawyers to prepare her defence or for her to appear. This is highly irregular and possibly illegal.

Thomas Fann (seated, second from left) unveiling the”RM10 to Say Thank You” campaign today (May 9) (Image credit: Malaysiakini)

“Most Malaysians know that the exposé of 1MDB was a major reason that led to a regime change in GE14 (14th General Election),” ENGAGE founder and chairman Thomas Fann pointed out.

“As such, on the sixth anniversary of GE14, we want to appeal to the Malaysian public to stand with Clare, the two Malaysian small businesses that published and printed her book by donating “RM10 to Say Thank You” for their courage in exposing corruption in Malaysia.”

Added Fann who was also the former BERSIH (Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections) chairman Thomas Fann: “We are grateful for their sacrifice to our nation and we are appalled that they should still be punished for their noble deeds six years after GE14.”

For this crowdfunding exercise, ENGAGE is using MalaysiaKini‘s “Sokong” crowdfunding platform for non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

The ENGAGE bank account linked to “Sokong” is a new account solely dedicated to Freedom Fund 2.0. Donors can click on this link and donate their “RM10 to Say Thank You” or any amount they wish to donate by using their credit/debit cards, Grab e-wallet or FPX.

Alternatively, they can deposit their contribution direct to the ENGAGE’s Freedom Fund 2.0 account as follows: – May 9, 2024

Account holder: Engage Citizen Network PLT
Bank: Public Bank Bhd
Account number: 323 866 9514
Reference: Clare

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