Posts Tagged ‘Sarawak

19
Feb
15

Swiss group pushing for probe into Sarawak company linked to Taib

A staunch critic of Sarawak governor Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud is pushing Putrajaya to set up a royal commission of inquiry (RCI) to look into the privatisation of a conglomerate linked to his family.

Swiss-based Bruno Manser Fund said the RCI should investigate the legality of the privatisation of Cahya Mata Sarawak (CMS), a former state-owned company listed on Bursa Malaysia with monopolies in cement and steel production, into the hands of the Taib family.

Saying it has uncovered “systematic corruption” to show how Taib as chief minister “generated massive profits for CMS by the awarding of state contracts, making the former chief minister’s family the single largest beneficiary of public contracts in Sarawak”, BMF urged that all shares held by his family members in the company be frozen.

Taib stepped down as Sarawak chief minister on February 28 last year after 33 years in office.

He was succeeded by his former brother-in-law, Tan Sri Adenan Satem.

In its report “Corruption Management Sarawak – Cahya Mata Sarawak and Malaysia’s Taib family”, BMF analysed 89 contracts granted to CMS between 1993 and 2013.

It alleged that CMS received over RM4.9 billion in state contracts since its takeover by Taib’s family in 1993 up till 2013.

The contracts include the RM295 million construction of Sarawak’s new state legislative assembly building in Kuching, and a 15-year contract in 2003 for the maintenance of all state roads valued at RM86 million annually.

BMF said it wanted the RCI to investigate the series of reverse takeovers that began in the early 1990s that “privatised CMS into the hands of the Taib family”, claiming that the takeovers were “carefully crafted political manipulations”.

CMS started its business in 1974 as Cement Manufacturers Sarawak Sdn Bhd, and originated from a joint venture between the state-owned Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) and the Sabah Economic Development Corporation (Sedco).

Following its privatisation, the company was renamed Cahya Mata Sarawak, retaining the company initials CMS.

Taib’s brother Onn Mahmud was appointed chairman of the group and was superseded seven years later by Taib’s youngest son, Datuk Seri Sulaiman Abdul Rahman Taib.

The BMF report said that though CMS appointed as chairman Tan Sri Syed Anwar Jamalullai, who is not related to Taib’s family, as well as British lawyer Datuk Richard Curtis as group managing director in 2006, the company remained firmly in the hands of the Taib family.

It said for the past 20 years, Taib’s family has controlled the group with 11 family members being involved as shareholders, directors or members of CMS senior management.

…more
Swiss group pushing for probe into Sarawak company linked to Taib
BY DESMOND DAVIDSON
26 January 2015 – TMI

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17
Feb
15

The Mahathir Syndrome

Just after I questioned the need for the so-called ‘moderate Malays’ to meet Mahathir Mohamad – in my view the begetter of poisonous, racist politics in Malaysia – over Najib Abdul Razak’s failure to rein in the radical forces, yet another group has courted the ‘benevolent dictator’ for its cause.

This time, it is Save Rivers, an environmental group formed to defend forests, rivers and sustainable livelihood in Sarawak. Its chairperson Peter Kallang recently invited Mahathir to speak on their behalf, and the former prime minister readily did it in a keynote speech in Kuching earlier this week, urging the Sarawak government to “rethink its controversial dam-building initiative”.

Yes, controversial is the keyword. Barely a few years before the Asian financial crisis hit Malaysia in 1997 and halted Mahathir’s hitherto uninterrupted ‘economic miracle’, the then prime minister argued for the case of the now ill-functioning Bakun Dam that would not only provide the cheapest source of energy but would also spur Malaysia’s industrialisation.

The mega dam would involve the relocation of up to 10,000 indigenous people from the Kayan, Kenyah, Kajang, Ukit and Penan ethnic groups, and radically alter Sawarak’s ecological system including the flows of the Rajang River and destruction of rainforests. Protests by grassroots activists went largely unheeded as Malaysians indulged themselves in the economic booms of the 1990s, entrusting the megalomaniac leader to do whatever he saw fit to ‘modernize’ the nation.

Prior to that, Penan protesters who wanted to preserve their land and traditional way of life were rounded up and manhandled by the police on Mahathir’s watch. One Sawarakian campaigner for indigenous rights and rainforests, Harrison Ngau (right), was incarcerated under the notorious Internal Security Act in 1987, while another by the name of Anderson Mutang Urud had to flee the country in 1992 just to avoid draconian legal snares.

The Bakun Dam was suspended thanks to the financial crisis, only to be revived in 2000 as Mahathir was adamant that “money spent on pre-construction works should not be wasted”. Forced relocations and resettlements therefore continued, much to the detriment of the indigenous peoples.

On June 27, 2013, Sarawak suffered a state-wide power failure and it was attributed to, guess what, the Bakun Hydroelectric Plant!

Throughout his 22 years of excessive rule, Mahathir never stopped being fond of mega projects.


…more
Jan 30, 2015 – Malaysiakini
By Josh Hong
The Mahathir Syndrome

25
Nov
14

Big fish is still swimming freely in Sarawak waters

After Adenan’s timber warning, PKR wants allegations in book probed

Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian (pic) today appealed to Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem to order a thorough and impartial investigation into the “shocking allegations and evidence” revealed in the book authored by Bruno Manser Fund executive director Lukas Straussman.

The scale of corruption exposed in the 300-page book, titled Money Logging: On the Trail of the Asian Timber Mafia, was the reason “that Sarawak is one of the poorest states in Malaysia despite being wealthy in natural resources”, Baru said, in support of Adenan’s new tough stand on corruption and illegal logging.

Adenan yesterday said that corruption in the industry and illegal logging were very bad and warned the six biggest timber companies to rein in their contractors and sub-contractors who were said to be engaged in illegal logging.

Baru said what was happening is that “the big fish is still swimming freely in cool waters while the smaller fishes are feeling the heat”.

“This is the one big thing that has painted a bad name on us internationally, to borrow the chief minister’s words,” he told reporters at the state legislative assembly today, referring to Adenan’s statement that the rape of the state’s forest had tainted the state’s international reputation.

Apart from the probe, Baru also urged the chief minister to look into the plight of the indigenous people “who are struggling so hard to defend their lands against the dam builders”.

“The activities of the various parties involved in clearing the land and building dams and the deals signed between them must be scrutinised for elements of corruption.

“The chief minister should consider why the previous administration started on this dam-building frenzy and whether there is really a need to destroy huge tracts of lands, drowning the homes of thousands of people.”

…more
After Adenan’s timber warning, PKR wants allegations in book probed
18 November 2014 – TMI

01
Nov
14

Who has stolen our trees?

Book exposes greed in Sarawak timber trade

A new book ‘Money Logging’, to be launched in Kuala Lumpur today, exposes the greed that has fuelled the destruction of forests in Sarawak which Mutang Urud calls ‘home’.

One of the greatest environmental crimes in history, the issue, said Mutang in the book’s foreword, is more than just the theft of trees.

“Surely, if my people have lost their ecosystem, their traditional way of life, their clean drinking water, and their freedom to roam the forests, they must have gained something. Yet they haven’t.

“Many of the people of Sarawak are as poor as they were when I was born.

“And yet, the value of the trees that have been felled is estimated to exceed US$50 billion,” Mutang wrote.

He alleged that the profits have fed corruption, kept oligarchs in power, and used to commit further crimes.

Mutang claimed that fortunes have been moved through the world’s leading financial system, most secretly, to places as distant as Zurich, London, Sydney, San Francisco and Ottawa.

The book, written by Lukas Straumann, executive director of Swiss-based Bruno Manser Fund, charts the trail of businesses and investments linked to logging wealth.

Stolen culture

“It is also about power, more precisely, how a corrupt autocrat has liquidated the forest in order to keep himself at the helm of a state.

“For my people, it is also more than a question of trees. It is about our culture they have stolen,” he claimed.

The big question for him “is how a single man, along with a small group of very rich politicians and businessmen, could destroy the richest ecosystem on earth despite not owning it, despite local and global outcry, despite international laws and regulations.

“Simply put: Who has stolen our trees?” he added.

…more
Oct 31, 2014 – Malaysiakini
Book exposes greed in Sarawak timber trade

25
Feb
14

Why the hurry for more dams?

Despite Bakun reportedly running at half its optimum, Murum in the impoundment process and slow take-up by industries, the state government is pushing ahead wth its plans for Baram and other dams.

MIRI: Something is wrong about Sarawak’s hydro-electricity plans. For one, Bakun power plant is running at just half its capacity, according to protestors at manning the anti-Baram dam blockades.

And there is also Batang Ai and Murum, the later currently being impounded.

Against this there continues to be a concerted push by the state government for 12 more dams, to be reportedly sited at Ulu Air, Metjawah, Belaga, Baleh, Belepeh, Lawas, Tutoh, Limbang, Baram, Murum and Linau rivers. The plan includes an extension to the Batang Ai dam.

The construction of the world’s second tallest dam at Bakun was itself left questionable after earlier justifications for it were linked to the prospect of running undersea cables to Peninsular Malaysia and powering the rest of Borneo as well. Both fell apart.

Questions continue to swirl around Chief Minister Taib Mahmud’s massive projects when there is still no use for the power.

The Sarawak Corriodr for Renewable Energy (Score) the reason for these dams, itself has faile to draw in the much speculated industrial giants.,

According to the news portal, Sarawak Report, Taib is “scouring the world for power-guzzling industries to relocate near Bakun, a prospect which many of the more reputation conscious companies, like Rio Tinto Alcan, have notably decided against”.

The Sarawak Electricity Board has nevertheless been saying that there is and will be demand and further dams are needed as a point of urgency.

In which case why has teh capacity of the eight turbines at Bakun been down-graded? The total electricity generated now is just over half of the 2400MW capacity.

So what is the hurry for new dams?

Bakun is supposed to have eight turbines, each able to generate 300 MW of power and all the turbines were scheduled to have been installed by the end of last year.

Seven units are “already commissioned” but only six are reportedly in operation todate.

“But all six units are now running half load, powering 150MW each,” said a source.

Inviting ‘dirty’ industries

The Sarawak government’s plan is to use up the huge quantities of power it will generate by inviting potentially “dirty” industries to relocate to the state.

Environmentalists however point out that Sarawak’s already mauled rivers will be destroyed once and for all.

But sources here said the planners at Score are determined to push ahead with their mega-project without doing an in-depth study on the possible consequences.

…more
Why the hurry for more dams?
February 3, 2014 – FMT

19
Feb
14

FZ Says: Tallying the price of Taib’s rule

AS THE era of Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud’s unshakeable rule over Sarawak reaches its closing phase, it is important to dwell on the record that he leaves behind.

Taib’s legacy would fill volumes, but it is noteworthy that his hold on power ensures that he cannot be removed against his will, regardless of the stamp of approval he has received from voters throughout his 33-year rule.

This is simply because the parties under the coalition that he leads contribute a pivotal 25 seats to the 112 that the federal government needs to have a simple majority in Parliament. The bargain ensures that Taib remains unquestionable about the administration of the state, no matter how damaging any allegations about his rule may be.

Although it may be difficult to verify the wealth of Taib or his family, there is nothing ambiguous about the Rolls Royce that he uses or the fact that his close relatives are beneficiaries of lucrative government contracts and timber concessions.

These circumstances raise more questions than answers have been forthcoming from official sources, including the inconclusive investigations of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.

However, the most revealing details of Sarawak’s fate under Taib lie in the human development indicators for the state. The Social Statistics Bulletin records that despite being the largest state in the country, Sarawak has only seven rural clinics out of 212 government-run health facilities.

Sarawak also has the second highest number of workers with no formal education, after Sabah, accounting for 22.6% of the national total. Together with those who only have primary education, they make up 35.4% of the national workforce who are considered functionally illiterate, as classified by the World Bank.

Reports from the ground also indicate that the plight of the poor in the state’s interior regions is more serious than is reflected in official statistics that show an impressive reduction in poverty levels. Much more is clearly needed in terms of infrastructure development to bring the benefits of economic growth to the remote communities in the state.

Ironically, the economic indicators for Sarawak put it at the top of the national table, with the second highest GDP per capita at RM33,300, beaten only by Penang. This statistic is based on its abundance of natural resources, from petroleum to timber and palm oil.

The question that has remained unanswered even 50 years after Malaysia was born is why the fruits of progress remain out of reach of the masses in Sarawak although its oil and gas production has driven the nation’s economy for decades.

However, most telling of all, perhaps, is the low level of education among Sarawak’s people that prevents them from tallying the true costs of their ignorance about how their future was stolen.

…more
FZ Says: Tallying the price of Taib’s rule
Feb 12, 2014 – fz.com

18
Feb
14

Law expert: Taib cannot go scot-free, even as governor

Mkini

Becoming the state governor will not necessarily provide Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud immunity from prosecution, constitutional expert Abdul Aziz Bari says.

Even as the nine Malay rulers are immune from legal proceedings in the courts, they can still be charged through a special court established under Article 182 of the Federal Constitution, Abdul Aziz (below) said.

He said this in response to theprotest by Solidariti Anak Muda Malaysia’s (SAMM) Sarawak wing against Abdul Taib becoming the next governor so that he can avoid answering for past allegations of corruption and misuse of power.

Abdul Taib, who has been Sarawak’s chief minister for 33 years, has been facing a litany of allegations of corruption and abuse of power and is being investigated by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Agency (MACC).

He even defiantly declared that he would not cooperate with MACC.

It is not right, Abdul Aziz told Malaysiakini yesterday, for SAMM to suggest that the move to governorship could offer Taib some protection from the law.

However, he agreed with SAMM that should Abdul Taib become the new Yang di-Pertua Negeri or head of state, the image of Sarawak would suffer.

Bringing Sarawak into disrepute

It is not advisable, Abdul Aziz said, to have a leader who has been alleged to have been involved in so many cases of corruption and abuse of power to take up such a post.

“Having Abdul Taib as governor will bring Sarawak to disrepute,” he said.

…more
February 12, 2014 – Hornbill Unleashed
Law expert: Taib cannot go scot-free, even as governor




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