Attempts to jam RFS broadcast not new — RFS founder
Posted on January 19, 2013, Saturday
KUCHING: Radio Free Sarawak (RFS) founder Clare Rewcastle Brown claimed there have been previous attempts to jam its broadcast.
In an emailed reply yesterday, she said these attempts were made during the last state election in 2011 but halted following protests made by RFS.
She also mentioned that jamming the programming of the station is a violation of international laws and contravention of international protocols.
Clare was reached yesterday for comments following news reports of state leaders urging the authorities to jam the transmissions of RFS, which broadcast from 6pm to 8pm daily.
Land Development Minister Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing had said in a news report on Thursday that he wanted RFS to be stopped because it was poisoning the minds of the rural populace, especially the Ibans, and running down the government.
Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, a day later, described RFS as the ‘naughty one’ and had no respect for the truth. “The fact that they illegally broadcast from a foreign country shows that the broadcasters have no pure motive in what they are doing,” Taib had said.
Clare in the email confirmed she runs the RFS as well as the Sarawak Report website, and she also said she had explained at a UK Parliamentary briefing earlier this week on the reasons for her performing this role.
She claimed there were organised attacks on the Sarawak Report website causing it to be closed down several times during the last election, and she attributed it as huge sign of weakness by the state government.
Clare, a British investigative journalist, founded the Sarawak Report in February 2010 and the RFS in December that same year. She was born in Sarawak to British parents prior to the formation of Malaysia.
She recalled Masing as among the first personalities interviewed by the radio station. “He started out by praising RFS and agreeing that a free media is a good thing and that politicians should be seen to be able to win the arguments if they want to hold onto their positions. He soon changed his tune,” she said.
Meanwhile, a regular listener Alexander Frusis – a 22-year-old from a longhouse at Entulang, Sri Aman – said RFS is very popular especially in his longhouse.
He pointed out that RFS has been very effective especially when interviewing his father Frusis Lebi, a farmer with deformed hands whose welfare assistance was stripped following his support for the opposition which then on sparked the ‘Jangan Lawan Tauke’ debate.
“It is not a matter of getting the other side of news, but rather we want to hear what the people really want to say. It is one of the alternative media which even the young are listening.
“I was even told that at some longhouses in the central region, the longhouse folks put the radio on a loud speaker so that everyone can listen to it,” he said.
The opposition parties have been active in distributing free radio sets to enable the people in the rural areas to listen to the broadcast in short wave frequency.
Deputy Minister of Information, Communication and Culture Datuk Joseph Salang could not be reached for comments on the issue, particularly on actions taken by the ministry to stop the broadcast.