Gordon Brown

Ex-British PM Gordon Brown's relative deported from Sarawak

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 05 July, 2013, 2:20am

The sister-in-law of former British prime minister Gordon Brown has said she was deported from a Malaysian state whose powerful leader is widely accused of massive corruption.

Clare Rewcastle Brown, an activist journalist who runs a website and radio station fiercely critical of Sarawak's chief minister, Abdul Taib Mahmud, said she was turned away at an airport in the state on Wednesday.

Sarawak-born Rewcastle Brown, who this year won an award from the International Press Institute for her work, said in a video on YouTube that she had flown to Sarawak's capital Kuching to meet lawyers over a civil lawsuit filed against her.

She said the suit was brought by "a transnational corporation that is on the British and European stock exchanges", and by powerful figures within Sarawak.

She accused authorities of barring her, so she could not defend herself.

"The fact that I am being threatened with being turned away now by immigration shows exactly how this country is being run for the benefit of the sort of people who are trying to sue me now," she said.

Rewcastle Brown was believed to be heading back to Britain.

The flap emerged as Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak was set to meet his British counterpart David Cameron in London yesterday.

A Sarawak immigration official confirmed the deportation, saying that Rewcastle Brown, who has broadcast the anti-Taib pirate signal of Radio Free Sarawak for three years, has been on a blacklist since 2011.

"The state government doesn't really give any reason. If they don't like this person, what can we say?" the official said.

Abdul Taib has dominated Sarawak - a vast but poor state on Borneo island of 2.5 million people - as chief minister since 1981.

Activists and environmentalists have for years accused Abdul Taib and his family of enriching themselves while running Sarawak like a private fiefdom.