Sarawak Report looks to crowdfunding to defend Hadi’s suit

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PETALING JAYA: Whistleblower site Sarawak Report has turned to crowdfunding in efforts to raise £30,000 (RM165,000) to defend a suit by PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang.

According to its crowdfunding page, the news portal had raised £15,653 at the time of writing, with 29 days left to go.

In a statement on the page, titled “Defend Sarawak Report”, the news portal said it believed it had a strong case against PAS.

“We believe we have a strong case and need to stand up to the big money that appears to be flowing into their action.”

On April 21, Hadi filed a suit against Sarawak Report at the London High Court.

PAS secretary-general Takiyuddin Hassan said the party was seeking substantial damages and an injunction to compel Sarawak Report to remove the article titled “As Najib Denies All Over 1MDB, Let’s Not Forget His Many Other Criminal Connections”.

The suit is over a claim in the article that RM90 million was “reckoned” to have entered the accounts of top PAS leaders to woo them into supporting Umno and Barisan Nasional.

At its recent muktamar, PAS had set up a special fund to collect money to cover the “costly” legal expenses of the suit. The Islamist party reportedly sought to raise RM200,000.

In its statement, Sarawak Report singled out Hadi, whom it said had taken exception to being caught up in the 1MDB scandal.

“PAS president Hadi has said he views our comments as a personal attack on his reputation in the UK, yet he is seeking to avoid placing security of costs in the UK court before we file our defence.

“This forces us to pay for expensive legal support to file that defence, money we have little hope of retrieving, whether or not he continues with his case.

“We believe this is a politically motivated attack and that the people involved are hoping we will settle the action rather than place a defence. They will then use that outcome, backed by BN’s powerful propaganda machine to seek to discredit us.”

The news portal urged people to help it fight the case “in order to counter this the latest of so many attempts to discredit our work”.

Supporters are directed to the crowdfunding page at https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/defendsarawakreport/.

Filing suit in UK poses problems for Hadi, says lawyer