Sarawak Report is a publishing platform covering issues such as land grabs, corruption and cronyism in Sarawak, Malaysia and beyond. Headed by editor Clare Rewcastle Brown and based out of London, United Kingdom, the Sarawak Report is known for breaking the story of 1MDB corruption scandal among many other exclusives.
Sarawak Report has exposed the cronyism and corruption of Abdul Taib Mahmud (former chief minister of Sarawak), Musa Aman (Chief Minister of Sabah) and Najib Razak, prime minister of Malaysia and numerous other individuals and organisations.
“Sarawak is the biggest state in Malaysia,” explained the digital director for the Sarawak Report, “and it’s been run by the same regime for years and years. When a guy who works in public office has property across the world and expensive cars, people wonder how is that possible? We cover those issues. There is no outlet for this information in Malaysia because it’s all state controlled media. Now, the big thing for Sarawak report is the 1MBD scandal. We broke the story about the 2 billion USD corruption scandal in April 2015, and that ’s been pretty much our work since.”
Sarawak Report publishes its stories exclusively online, which allows them to reach many more people than a traditional publisher, especially in a country like Malaysia where the media is controlled by the state through strict publishing laws.
“Without the Internet it would be impossible for us to do what we have done,” the digital director explained. “Sarawak Report was one of the first websites to publish critical articles of Abdul Taib Mahmud (the previous Chief Minister of Sarawak). It could do that because it was based outside Malaysia (in London) and didn’t have to adhere to the country’s draconian media laws. It was because of Sarawak Report that Malaysians realised just how corrupt their country was. It’s importance and influence as a news source in Malaysia and beyond really cannot be underestimated.”
The Report’s fight for truth, however, wasn’t met without opposition. “Our first online attack was in 2011. They would always happen around election time. Whenever there was a vote in Malaysia we would get a DDoS attack trying, and in some cases succeeding, to take us offline. Initially we had no idea how to deal with this and we really struggled with being taken offline. Every time we switched to a new provider we’d get taken down and get kicked off the host. One of these attacks knocked us offline for almost an entire week.”
Because of these attacks the Sarawak Report was soon offered Project Galileo protection. “Once we got on Project Galileo,” the director continued, “we were much better off. I don’t really worry about DDoS attacks anymore because I know someone has my back. The people who don’t like us have switched gears because DDoS attacks are no longer effective. The Malaysian government didn’t like the stories we were writing, so they went out of their way to ban our site. Now we’ve built our own mirror technology, created dedicated apps, and developed this big ecosystem, which includes Project Galileo, so people can read our stories.”
“The government had to ban us to stop people from getting our information. The government didn’t like the stories we were writing, so they went out of their way to ban our site.”
Digital Director at the Sarawak Report
“We would run the risk of being pushed offline during DDOS attacks. With Project Galileo looking after us we remain accessible even if we should encounter another attack. That’s incredible important as attacks usually happen around election time.”