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Gospel music jamming Radio Free Sarawak

 | April 15, 2011

Radio Free Sarawak, which has been highly critical of Taib Mahmud, is also under attack and cannot broadcast its programmes to the people in Sarawak

KUALA LUMPUR: Radio Free Sarawak (RFS), one of the few voices critical of the Barisan Nasional (BN) in Sarawak, is being subjected to jamming.

“The first jamming happened yesterday… all on the 15425kHz (frequency) which is next to our station’s 15420kHz,” said Clare Rewcastle Brown, who operates the radio station and blog Sarawak Report from Covent Garden in London.

“Our experts have now traced the attack to a known agent in Belgium, who is an established broker of transmission times. He has admitted that he has been hired to broadcast at the same time and in the same frequency as our station.”

Brown, a journalist, said the agent admitted that the contract was worth “a considerable amount of money”.

He has been enlisted until December, although it is clear that his “jamming” services were only important during the election period.

Brown said the broker has been paid to broadcast his gospel music across the RFS signal range at double the normal broadcast strength (a full 200 kilowatts).

“This cost around US$200 an hour at commercial rates, a full US$400 a day,” she said, adding that the broker has 270 remaining days of the year and that would make his contract worth a mininum of US$108,000.

“This is the cost of getting Radio Free Sarawak off the air for the remaining two days of the election,” she said.

She said that from the information she has gathered, the broker has also coordinated a jamming operation against an anti-Muammar Gaddafi station in the past.

She added that the broker started jamming RFS through Vladivostok, Russia, which is nearer to Sarawak.

Illegal action

According to Brown, the agent has asked the Russians to directly intercept RFS. At first, the Russsians refused because of international protocols, but later relented and started transmitted powerful signals aimed at RFS.

The signals were sent on the same frequency as RFS (15420kHz).

Brown said RFS was doing all it could to protest this illegal action, and would also take measures to re-broadcast its programmes to the Sarawakian audiences.

Clare also alleged that mobile phone networks in Sarawak have encountered disruption during the campaigning period.

“It was impossible to reach the people… who are facing a barrage of pressure and intimidation in the run-up to the election…”

She alleged that bribery took place in the remote areas where “desperate BN workers who have been drawing great sacks of cash from the bank have been distributing the money to the voters”.

“Communities that have been deprived of their lands in recent years for plantation projects have been told that they will get back their lands if they vote for BN.”

She expressed fears that many areas in Sarawak will face a blackout in the final hours of polling tomorrow as the ballot boxes are being collected and counted.

Brown, who has worked for the BBC World Service, has been highly critical of Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud, accusing him of widespread corruption.

RFS is not the first station to come under attack. MalaysiaKini, too, is under cyber attacks.

HarakahDaily and Sarawak Report have also run into similar problems.


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