Sarawak Report Editor Wins Global Anti-Corruption Award For Journalism

The Editor of Sarawak Report today won the UN-backed Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani Anti-Corruption Excellence Award (ACE) in the category of investigative journalism, presented to her by the Emir of Qatar and the President of Uzbekistan in Tashkent.

The award was in recognition of her exposes on Malaysia’s 1MDB and other scandals, and more recently on money laundering through London along with political influence buying.

The honour, which is sponsored by Qatar through its Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption Centre (ROLACC), is bestowed in collaboration with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) .

Its stated objective is to advocate the importance of tackling corruption and encourage the implementation of the measures set forth by the United Nations Convention Against Corruption.

The Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani Anti-Corruption Excellence Award intends to advocate the importance of tackling corruption and encourage the implementation of the crucial measures set forth by the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, through gathering and broadcasting creative and outstanding achievements of anti-corruption projects by publicly awarding and honoring exceptional related efforts.

By highlighting exemplary models and promoting excellence and creativity in anti-corruption, the Award is to serve as incentive to greater motivation and as a tool to identify, recognize, honor and reward those who have shown vision, leadership, creativity, enthusiasm in, and commitment and dedication for tackling corruption, as well as the capacity to inspire others to replicate similar efforts. [ACE Mission Stnt]

This year the award (held in Malaysia in 2018) was hosted by Uzbekistan with great ceremony in Tashkent at the capital’s brand new Tashkent City complex.

The Sh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani ACE Award

The President of Uzbekistan, Shavkat Miromonovich Mirziyoyev, opened the event with a speech in which he outlined the policies implemented by his government to combat the problem in his own country.

He pointed out that Uzbekistan, which had been regarded as isolationist and corrupt, has  so far risen 30 ranks on the Transparency International country perception list since he took office in 2016. His target is to continue moving upwards as the best indicator of progress for a country.

Malaysia had meanwhile dropped 10 in the ranks since 2019, according to the latest figures published at the end of 2022. The rankings for the past year are yet to be published.

Journalism and a free media were singled out by keynote speakers as a crucial factor in addressing the corruption problem, seen as the biggest single barrier to development and progress in any nation.

Sarawak Report Editor, Clare Rewcastle Brown, spoke of the challenges journalists and other anti-corruption campaigners face, particularly when highlighting issues in their home countries.

Not only are they faced with threats of physical intimidation and worse on the part of powerful and wealthy forces, but there are also all manner of financial and other forms of bullying to contend with.

British defamation laws have become notorious globally for deterring free reporting. However, they are often even more stringent in Commonwealth countries like Malaysia where governments have tightened barriers to freedom of speech instead of relaxing them.

The situation enables super-wealthy litigants to threaten large damages as a means to deter reporting they find inconvenient. The costs of defending such legal suits has had a universal chilling effect on investigative journalism and judgements can be based on fine and disputed points of meaning.

Sarawak Report itself has faced numerous threats and legal cases related to the 1MDB scandal, now proven to have been the world’s largest recorded theft.

Yet, although the former Malaysian prime minister, Najib Razak, was consequently thrown from office by angry voters and is now imprisoned for that crime, Sarawak Report remains under pressure as a result of its work.

Prize money from the award, which was previously intended to support reforestation projects for impoverished indigenous communities in Sarawak, will now have to be channelled to meet damages achieved last week by the Sultanah of Terengganu, one of the wealthiest women in the world.

She claims she was defamed by being incorrectly associated with Jho Low during the period preceding 1MDB. Sarawak Report strenuously denies the reference was in any way reflective on her character or that of her sister-in-law who was the actual contact for the businessman at that time.

Pending an appeal, Sarawak Report has been forced to raise RM420,000 to protect local businesses who were included in the suit for printing and distributing the book under Malaysia’s draconian laws against free reporting and free expression.

In the meantime, Sarawak Report is grateful to rely on the recognition and support provided by senior figures in the international community through this prestigious award.

We also thank all those in Malaysia and internationally who have so far generously contributed to our fundraiser.

Your views are valuable to us, but Sarawak Report kindly requests that comments be deposited in suitable language and do not support racism or violence or we will be forced to withdraw them from the site.


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