The more people said that she was tilting at windmills when she tried to unearth the dirt behind the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) debacle, the more British journalist Clare Rewcastle Brown dug her heels in. She was on the scent of a big story and nothing could throw her off the trail.
“No, I’m not naturally fearless. Maybe naturally rebellious. I would say I was hopefully sensible and cautious in carrying out this investigation. I don’t go courting danger for the sake of it because that causes anyone else as much trouble as oneself — my family was quite strict about that,” says Rewcastle Brown, founder of investigative site Sarawak Report, which first shed light on the shenanigans of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his cohorts who allegedly siphoned off money from sovereign wealth fund 1MDB into their personal accounts, and highlighted the issue with insider information and leaked documents.
“I make decisions about the level of risk and the necessity for taking certain risks for something that’s important. Everything I did was calculated. I hate to see people getting away with doing bad things. I reckoned there was a reasonable chance that by writing about these things and bringing them to [public] attention, you could start bringing people to account. Yes, I really believed it could happen,” she adds.
Outrage over those in power suppressing vulnerable people for their own ends quelled fears for her own safety during the three years she spent pursuing the story. She was threatened and stalked while running Sarawak Report in London and “at some point, yes, I did actually, on and off”, she says in reply to whether she ever felt that her life was in danger. But instead of cowing her, these underhanded tactics made her all the more determined to get to the bottom of things.
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