PETALING JAYA: Sarawak Report editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown, who had blown the whistle on the 1MDB scandal, today urged those who intend to make a movie out of it to treat the story with greater respect.
“It is not ‘The Great Gatsby’. This story should be treated with greater respect and Malaysians should be treated with great respect.
“I hope that anyone who goes about making this film will actually have some concerns over the best interests of Malaysians and make more effort to learn about the truth,” she told FMT when contacted.
Rewcastle-Brown was asked to comment on reports that Malaysian-born actress Michelle Yeoh will be co-producing the movie version of “Billion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood and the World”.
Entertainment news portal Hollywood Reporter reported that the rights for the film have been obtained by SK Global, the company behind “Crazy Rich Asians”, which starred Yeoh and became a runaway success for weeks at the box office.
Rewcastle-Brown had earlier tweeted: “The people who wrote a book alleging Jho Low ‘fooled a prime minister, the banks and the world’ have chosen BN-supporting actress Michelle Yeoh to produce it!
“Suggest people watch the other up-coming film ‘The Sarawak Report’ for the real story!” she tweeted using the Sarawak Report Twitter handle.
Rewcastle-Brown said while she did not know enough about Yeoh, she found it odd that someone who had expressed so much support for former prime minister Najib Razak, just before the last general election, had been chosen to be part of the film.
“She will have to go through a little bit (of criticisms). I do not know. I have no idea what is her view.
“But I would think that she would be the last person to associate with the film,” she said.
When asked if Yeoh’s participation in the film was hypocritical, Rewcastle-Brown said the actress had probably been chosen “because she is one Malaysian that people in Hollywood have heard of”.
“She is a big name,” she said.
However, Rewcastle-Brown said she had no personal grudge against Yeoh.
“I’m sure she is a good person. But I would suggest that she is probably not (the right choice). She is a controversial choice because of her support for Najib Razak right before the election,” she said.
Najib has been at the centre of the 1MDB scandal and has since been charged in court for various offences.
Yeoh had previously openly expressed support for Najib at a gathering, organised by the Federation of Chinese Descendants of Selangor, in the run-up to the 13th general election in 2013.
“We have a leader here who has done so many good things and will do more. I hope from the bottom of my heart that he will remain as the prime minister and I ask all of you to give him a strong mandate,” she had told the crowd.
Yeoh, who is also the Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Programme, had earlier this year also praised Najib and the then Barisan Nasional government’s efforts to help Rohingya refugees and to fight for their plight.
She said Najib and Malaysia had done amazing work on the issue and it was very important for Malaysia, as a neighbouring country, to help the Rohingya who faced suffering and oppression in Myanmar.
Aside from Rewcastle-Brown, several others, like Cynthia Gabriel, executive director of the anti-graft group Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4), were not impressed by Yeoh’s participation in the movie version of the book, written by Wall Street Journal (WSJ) journalists Tom Wright and Bradley Hope.
“Cheap opportunists like this should have no place in the new Malaysia!
“Mana ada integrity? (Where is the integrity?) Before the regime change, she was all over Najib and company,” she tweeted in response to the news.
Award-winning novelist Faisal Tehrani also criticised the decision, and said he was willing to write an adaptation.
“I am willing to write the adaptation. We can have a character named Michelle, strong supporter of Najib. Please consider,” he tweeted.