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PETALING JAYA, Sept 2, 2015:

A press conference almost turned ugly when Pertubuhan Minda dan Sosial Prihatin president Ramesh Rao accused reporters of asking belittling questions.

During the press conference today, former Sarawak Tribune newspaper editor Lester Melanyi had alleged that a conversation between former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Sarawak Report editor Clare Rewcastle Brown.

The alleged conversation was recorded sometime last year by a Sarawak Report staff by the name Amy Whitefield, said Lester.

Amy then confided in him about the conversation, in which Clare was allegedly told to write against the government, through email some months back, he added.

However, he was unable to produce concrete evidence, including the said recording of the conversation, during the press conference, which prompted a barrage of questions from the journalists.

Ramesh and his organisation’s legal advisor Hafiz Ahmad Ansari had to intervene and answer on his behalf several times as Lester struggled with speech impediment.

Hafiz said the document, containing thousands of emails to prove that the conversation did exist, was never acted upon by the police.

He alleged that the police had left the document in Ramesh’s office in Petaling Jaya and had not collected it.

When asked why they did not bring the document to the police instead, Hafiz answered that there were certain procedures to be followed by the police as they had supposedly acknowledged receipt of the document.

Hafiz said police must instead look into the document and also not doubt Lester’s credibility as a witness on grounds that he was unhealthy.

When asked why he did not report on the alleged police inaction, Hafiz, who claimed to be a former police officer of more than 15 years, said he does not know how to contact the Inspector-General of Police.

There were dissatisfaction among the journalists when Ramesh refused to show the document, on grounds that it would paint a negative picture of the police’s professionalism.

After much persuasion, he showed the document which was a stack of A4-sized paper bound together, on condition that no photos were allowed.

Things took a turn for the worse when reporters asked if they could hold the document and take a closer look, which was refused.

The refusal prompted the journalists to question the authenticity of the document, in which Ramesh took offense.

It almost led to a fist fight outside the office but in the end cooler heads prevailed.

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