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November 8, 2011

BREAKING NEWS! Taib under investigation in the UK! – British government to monitor MACC


 

“We will monitor the MACC investigation”: British Minister of State, Jeremy Browne

(LONDON, UK). The British government will be monitoring the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission’s (MACC) investigation into Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud (“Taib”) and will use its findings “to support a UK investigation”. This has been confirmed in a letter to the Bruno Manser Fund from British Minister of State, Jeremy Browne, the Minister who holds responsibility for Britain’s relations with Malaysia.

Browne confirms that the UK government has started looking into alleged Taib family money-laundering in the UK and British offshore financial centres. According to the Minister, a complaint by the Bruno Manser Fund has been “forwarded to the relevant UK authorities”. “We are also aware, as your letter states, that the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) has announced the opening of its own investigation into Taib earlier this year.”

“The UK attaches considerable importance to the integrity and supervision of its financial services industry and property sector, so concrete allegations of money laundering are taken very seriously.” The Minister also stated that the British and Malaysian Governments had signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Transnational Crime, “which foresees close cooperation on money laundering and other illegal activities.”

The Bruno Manser Fund had alerted British Prime Minister David Cameron about suspected money-laundering by the Taib family and called on the British government to freeze illicit Taib assets in the UK. The Taibs’ business flagship in the UK is Ridgeford Properties, a property company controlled by Taib’s daughter Jamilah Taib Murray and his Canadian son-in-law, Sean Murray. Ridgeford Properties holds luxury properties in Central London estimated to be worth several hundred million pounds.

Prior to the British government, the Swiss and German bank regulators had announced that they would look into potential Taib-related dealings in their countries. Australia’s Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd and Canada’s Finance Minister James Flaherty had also assured the Bruno Manser Fund that their governments were taking money-laundering allegations against the Taib family very seriously and would look into the matter. http://www.stop-timber-corruption.org/campaign_update?show=34

August 29, 2011

New dam, same old story


Taken from The Star by Stephen Then

 

With folk uprooted for the Bakun and Batang Ai dams yet to benefit from the electricity produced by the projects, one wonders how long the 20,000 people now sacrificing their ancestral land for the Baram dam will get theirs.

I DON’T really relish the thought of seeing another gigantic dam being built after spending the past 15 years watching the Bakun dam develop from start to finish.

It was exactly 15 years ago in August 1996 that the first dynamite hole was drilled into a mountain slope along a bank of Balui River to blast off the construction of three river diversion tunnels through the mountains — the first phase of the Bakun dam project.

I remember the day well. I was in the first batch of media personnel invited by Ekran Bhd (the developer) to visit the site.

Some 30 reporters, photographers and television crew members endured an arduous journey up the Rajang River and through the Balui River to the site earmarked for the 210m main dam wall.

It was a 12-hour boat ride from Sibu via Belaga, Song and Kapit, and we had to shoot up the Pelagus rapids, which at that time was a raging one. In 1996, there was no road from Bintulu to Bakun. The road was completed much later.

I still remember seeing the then Ekran Bhd chairman Tan Sri Ting Pek Khiing smashing a bottle of champagne onto the hillslope after the blasting ceremony, an event witnessed by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who was then the Prime Minister of Malaysia.

During the ceremony, the VVIPs told the press that the project would deliver electricity to the rakyat and solve all their power woes.

They said the project would light up homes in urban and rural Sarawak and channel electricity via submarine cables across the South China Sea to the peninsula.

That was August 1996.

Since then, I have visited the dam eight times, the last in October last year when the flooding of the reservoir started with the damming of the diversion tunnels.

Today, Bakun has been completed, but sadly, the promise that rural folks would benefit from the electricity has not materialised.

The electricity is only for industries in the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE). The project to cable electricity to the peninsula states was shelved due to high costs.

Power transmission lines from the dam run high over dozens of settlements along a 150km route from Bakun to Bintulu.

These settlements will not benefit from the electricity because they are not connected to the state grid. The dam is connected directly to the main grid and there is no power line connecting Bakun to the settlements.

I saw the same situation at the Batang Ai dam in Sri Aman Division in southern Sarawak where the settlements closest to the site were also without electricity supply.

As in Bakun, the transmission lines bypass them.

The electricity is only for the benefit of industrial users, residential estates, commercial centres and offices located hundreds or thousands of km away from the dams.

Those who were uprooted from their ancestral homes to make way for the dams do not benefit from the electricity.

Unfair, isn’t it?

Senior Iban leader Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing agrees that this should not be the case.

In interviews with The Star and a local newspaper, Masing admitted that locals in Bakun, the Sungai Asap resettlement scheme and Belaga district should also enjoy the 24-hour electricity from Bakun.

“These folk still use generator sets to produce a limited amount of electricity,” he said.

As a matter of social justice, Sarawak Energy Bhd and Sarawak Hidro (the Bakun dam manager) should supply electricity from the dam to these local folk whose lives had been affected by its construction.

Masing said he would try to ensure that the electricity be connected to Sungai Asap, where 15,000 relocated from the Bakun area now live.

He said he would also try to ensure that the rest of the 40,000 population now located in the surrounding settlements and Belaga town were also connected to Bakun to enjoy 24-hour power supply at cheaper rates.

This sounds nice, but in reality, it is easier said than done.

The Star has learnt that to draw electricity from the dam and the Sarawak main grid to the settlements from Bakun to Bintulu would cost more than RM60mil.

A lot of infrastructure work has to be put in place before this can happen. So far, no “volunteers” have come forward to offer the money.

When asked on this, Dr Masing admitted that Sarawak Energy and Sarawak Hidro had said that the move would be extremely costly.

“So far, no decision has been made as to whether the electricity from the Bakun dam will be connected to the settlements near Bakun or Belaga town.

“I hope it will be done for the sake of social justice for the Bakun folk,” he stressed.

I sincerely hope that Dr Masing’s wish will become a reality soon.

As it is, the harsh reality is that the Bakun dam, just like the Batang Ai dam, has not benefited the very people whose lives had been uprooted and ancestral land sacrificed for the dams.

The promise of jobs for locals also did not materialise. Even after 15 years, there is still a lot of unemployment in Sungai Asap and the number of jobs at the Bakun dam is limited.

The latest additions of hydro dams in Sarawak will be in Baram district in the interior of Miri division in northern Sarawak.

Three days ago, Baram MP Datuk Jacob Dungau Sagan announced the setting up of a government-appointed committee to handle resettlement and compensation issues of more than 20,000 folks from 25 longhouses who will be uprooted for the 1,000MW Baram dam in Long Kesseh, some 200km inland from Miri city.

It looks like there is no turning back — the Baram dam project is on.

Already, an access road to the dam site is being opened up.

The Baram dam will be half the size of the Bakun dam and cost RM7.3bil — about half the cost of the Bakun dam. But in terms of population of natives affected, it will eclipse the mighty Bakun dam.

In Bakun, an original population of about 10,000 were uprooted. In Baram, however, this will happen to at least 20,000 from 25 settlements.

Sagan, also the committee’s chairman, said that efforts would be made to ensure the local Baram folk benefit from the electricity from the dam.

The mistakes made at the Bakun and Batang Ai dams would not be repeated in Baram, he said.

I hope he is right.

March 17, 2011

Protests in Australia and Europe announced


Taken from BMF

After street action in the UK, US and Canada, a second series of protests against Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud’s massive corruption is planned for next week in Australia and Switzerland, just ahead of Taib’s 30th anniversary in power on Saturday 26 March 2011.

Monday 21 March 2011
Sydney, Australia
12:30 p.m. in front of the Taib family-owned Valentine on George Hotel, 767 George St
Organized by Rainforest Information Centre, Sydney (www.rainforestinfo.org.au/borneo/21st.pdf)
The protest rally will be adressed by retiring Greens MP Ian Cohen
Contact: John Seed, Tel.                             +61 4 1037 0632              , E-mail: rainforestinfo(a)ozemail(dot)com(dot)au

Friday 25, March 2011
Adelaide, Australia
12:30 p.m. at the “Taib Mahmud, Chief Minister of Sarawak Court”, adjacent to the Ligertwood Buidling at Adelaide University
Organized by the South Australian Greens (www.sa.greens.org.au)
The protest rally will be adressed by MP Mark Parnell, State Parliamentary Leader of the South Australian Greens
Contact: Cate Mussared, Tel.                             +61 8 8237 9111              , E-mail: Parnell(at)parliament(dot)sa(dot)gov(dot)au

Friday 25 March 2011
Bern, Switzerland
11 a.m. Helvetiaplatz
Organized by the Bruno Manser Fund, Basel (www.bmf.ch)
The event will be used to deposit more than 6000 signatures of BMF’s Stop Timber Corruption petition to the nearby Malaysian embassy.
Contact: Michael Kraft, Tel.                             +41 76 428 25 11              , E-mail: timber-corruption(a)bmf(dot)ch

Saturday 26 March 2011
Hounville (Tasmania), Australia
10 a.m. at the Huon Valley Environment Centre, 17 Wilmot Rd., Huonville (www.huon.org)
The protest will be held in front of the nearby Taib family-related Ta Ann veneer mill. The logging group Ta Ann is controlled by Taib Mahmud’s cousin Hamed Sepawi. It is responsbile for destructive logging of High Conservation Value Tasmanian forests.
Contact: Jenny Weber                             +61 3 6264 1286              , E-mail: huonenvironmentalcentre(a)gmail(dot)com

We will keep you updated on planned further action in Vienna (Austria), Hamburg (Germany) and other cities around the globe.

(17 March 2011)

March 1, 2011

Canada, UK governments asked to freeze Taib assets


From BMF

Canada, UK governments asked to freeze Taib assets

Protesters in front of the mansion of Jamilah Taib at Rockcliffe, Canada, defied ice and snow. Jamilah (Taib’s daughter) is a founding director of Sakto corporation and a major shareholder of Cahaya Mata Sarawak (CMS).

OTTAWA (CANADA) / LONDON (UK). Human rights and environmental campaigners from
Malaysia, Canada, the United Kingdom and Switzerland have today protested against corruption in front of property companies associated with the family of Abdul Taib Mahmud (“Taib”), the Chief Minister of the Malaysian state of Sarawak. The protests took place in front of Sakto Corporation in Ottawa and Ridgeford Properties Ltd in central London.

The Canadian and British governments are being asked to freeze the assets of nine Taib-associated
companies in Canada and two companies in the UK which are estimated to be worth hundreds of
millions of US dollars.

The Canadian companies blacklisted by the Swiss Bruno Manser Fund as being associated with the Taib family are Adelaide Ottawa Corporation (Business number 2028546); City Gate International Corporation (446027-8); Glowell Development Corporation (1545868); Preston Building Holding Corporation (2108122), Sakto Development Corporation Pte. Ltd. (155207-4), Sakto Corporation (340439-1), Sakto Management Services Corporation (655948-4), Tower One Holding Corporation (2028542), Tower Two Holding Corporation (2018543). The British companies named on the Taib family assets blacklist are Ridgeford Properties Ltd (3268801) and Ridgeford Consulting Ltd
(5572163). Ridgeford Properties Ltd is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Canadian City Gate International Corporation.

The Bruno Manser Fund also disclosed that it had lodged a detailed complaint with Jeanne M.
Flemming, Director of Canada’s Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre (FINTRAC), in June 2010 already. Hitherto, FINTRAC has left the complaint unanswered. Earlier this week, the Bruno Manser Fund criticized the Canadian authorities for their close business ties with Taib-family companies. No less than eleven Ontario Government Ministries are occupying offices at Sakto’s Preston Square Tower III in Ottawa.

Abdul Taib Mahmud has been Chief Minister, Finance Minister and State Planning and Resources Minister of the Malaysian state of Sarawak since 1981. He has abused his political power in a spectacular way for personal gains and has managed to turn the resource-rich state of Sarawak on Borneo into his own private estate. Taib has been particularly criticized for the destructive logging of hundreds of thousands of hectares of tropical rainforest and for the marginalization of the state’s indigenous communities. Taib’s fortune is estimated to be worth several billion US dollars.

(28 February 2011)

February 26, 2011

FBI’s Seattle office to see embarrassing anti-Taib protest


Taken from BMF

SEATTLE / SAN FRANCISCO (US) The global campaign against Sarawak’s billionaire Chief Minister-cum-illegal logging tycoon, Abdul Taib Mahmud (“Taib”), is gaining further momentum. Yesterday, human rights groups and environmental campaigners in the US announced a picketing campaign outside Taib properties in Seattle and San Francisco. Similar protests will be held next week in the UK and Canada.

The Seattle protest (on Thursday 3 March) will be particularly embarrassing for the US authorities. It is being held outside the Taib-owned Abraham Lincoln building in downtown Seattle, a property held through Wallysons Inc, which hosts no less than the FBI’s Northwestern Regional Headquarters! What a shame that the FBI, an institution set up to uphold the fight for justice and against corruption and money-laundering, is renting its premises from a well-known Malaysian criminal kleptocrat!

Wallysons’ chairman is Taib’s son, Sulaiman (Rahman) Taib, while Taib’s Canadian son-in-law, Sean Murray, is its president. Taib is one of South East Asia’s most corrupt politicians and the chief culprit for the destructive logging of several hundred thousand hectares of Borneo rainforest. Last week, the Swiss Bruno Manser Fund published a blacklist of 49 Taib companies in eight countries which are estimated to be worth hundreds of millions, if not billions, of US dollars.

The San Francisco protest (on Wednesday 9 March) is being held outside the Citibank branch at 260 California Street in the city’s historical centre. The building is the seat of Taib’s Sakti International Corporation, which used to be headed by the late Ross Boyert. After having been dismissed by the Taibs, Boyert filed legal action against Sakti at a San Francisco court in early 2007. In September 2010, Boyert was found dead in a Los Angeles hotel. In an interview with Sarawak Report given weeks before his death, Boyert said he and his family had been harassed and terrorized by Taib agents ever since he had filed the case.

The Bruno Manser Fund, together with an international NGO coalition against Taib timber corruption, is asking the US authorities to freeze all Taib assets in the United States and to investigate the former Taib aide and whistleblower Ross Boyert’s allegations against the Taibs and the circumstances of his death.

Details of planned Taib street campaigns in the United States:
Seattle: Thursday, 3 March 2011, 12:00 p.m. outside the FBI Northwestern Regional Headquarters at 1110
3rd Avenue (corner Spring St)
San Francisco: Wednesday, 9 March 2011, 10:00 a.m. outside Citibank at 260 California Street
Phone contact for the United States:
Brihannala Morgan, The Borneo Project, Berkeley, California Tel. +1 415 341 7051
www.borneoproject.org
International campaign coordination: Bruno Manser Fund, Basel, Switzerland +41 61 261 94 74
http://www.stop-timber-corruption.org/@bmf.ch
Sources used for this release: http://www.sarawakreport.org/; research by the Bruno Manser Fund.
Follow our campaign on twitter: http://www.twitter.com/bmfonds

February 25, 2011

Canadian government under fire over Taib ties


Taken from BMF

OTTAWA (CANADA). Days ahead of announced street protests against Taib family properties in downtown Ottawa and central London, the Canadian government is coming under fire over its close business ties with the Taibs. A number of ministries of the Canadian federal government and the Ontario provincial government are renting their office space from Sakto corporation which is being controlled by the powerful and extremely corrupt Malaysian Taib family.

Sakto corporation, an Ottawa property developer, was founded in 1983 by Onn Mahmud, the brother of the then newly-elected Chief Minister of the Malaysian state of Sarawak, Abdul Taib Mahmud (“Taib”). Its rapid development has allegedly been funded with illegal timber trade kickbacks channelled through two Hong Kong businesses funded by Onn Mahmud and an accomplice in the same year. Today, Sakto and its subsidiaries in the UK and the US are estimated to be worth several hundred million Canadian dollars. They are being directed by Taib’s daughter Jamilah Taib and her Canadian husband Sean (Hisham) Murray.

No less than eleven Ontario Government Ministries are occupying offices at Sakto’s Preston Square site in downtown Ottawa. These include the Ministry of the Attorney General, the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration, the Ministry of Community and Social Services, the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, the Ministry of Health Promotion, the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry of Tourism, the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities and the Ministry of Transportation. Another Sakto building at 2745 Iris Street is occupied by federal government of Canada offices.

Mutang Urud, an indigenous leader from Sarawak who has been living in exile in Canada since the 1990s said: „It is disgusting to think that the Canadian government would be renting office space from the Taibs who are running such an oppressive government in Sarawak. This is a shame and I hope it is being done out of ignorance. There should have been due diligence. A probe should be launched into the Canadian and Ontario government rental contracts with Sakto and there must be consequences.”

Mutang was arrested and placed in solitary confinement by the Taib government in February 1992 for running the Sarawak Indigenous Peoples’ Association (SIPA). He will be leading a street campaign protest in front of Sakto’s 333 Preston Street premises in Ottawa on coming Monday, 28 February, at noon.

Sign our petition to stop timber corruption

February 24, 2011

Stop Sarawak Timber Corruption – Freeze Taib assets now!


 

The Bruno Manser Fund  has launch an international campaign against the blatant corruption and abuse of public funds by Abdul Taib Mahmud, Chief Minister of the Malaysian state of Sarawak. A campaign website, http://www.stop-timber-corruption.org/petition, has go online since Friday, 18 February, and will be regularly updated and equipped with features for an interactive campaign with public participation.

Taib, one of South East Asia’s longest-serving politicians, has been in office since 1981 and is planning to celebrate his 30th anniversary in power on 26 March 2011. The 75-year old kleptocrat will stand as an incumbent for another five-year term of office in the upcoming Sarawak state elections, which are due to be held before July.

Taib has abused his public office to a frightening extent and has managed to convert the state of Sarawak into his family’s private estate. He simultaneously holds the offices of Chief Minister, and Finance Minister, as well as that of State Planning and Resources Minister, which gives him enormous political power. In addition, Malaysia’s “Barisan Nasional” coalition, which forms the federal government, is dependent on Taib’s support to remain in power. Sarawak’s largest private company, its electricity supply, large-scale logging interests and the control of log exports are also concentrated in the hands of the Taib family.

Since 1983, Taib and his immediate family members have started to transfer considerable parts of their ill-gotten assets overseas. The Bruno Manser Fund has established a black list with 49 Taib companies in eight countries worth hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars. The list will be published next week, and the authorities of these countries will be asked to freeze all Taib assets and to launch criminal investigations against the Taib family.

In Sarawak, corruption has proved to be one of the main drivers of deforestation. While most of the state’s forests have been logged or converted into plantations over the last three decades, Sarawak’s indigenous communities have seen little, if any, benefit from Taib’s so-called politics of development. Poverty, illiteracy and a lack of basic infrastructure are omnipresent in rural Sarawak.

Sarawak’s numerous indigenous communities, and particularly the Penan, have struggled since the 1980s against destructive logging and have fought for their land rights but, in most cases, they have been outmanoeuvred and cheated by Taib and his cronies.

For 30 years, Abdul Taib Mahmud has been Chief Minister of the Malaysian state of Sarawak. Taib has abused his power in a spectacular way and has transferred the massive proceeds of corruption and illegal logging overseas. He and his family members own numerous companies in Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Malaysia, the UK, the US and other countries.

Help us to build up international political pressure against the corrupt Taib family and sign the online petition!

Your e-mail will be sent to the authorities in Australia, the British Virgin Islands, Canada, Hong Kong, Jersey, Malaysia, the United Kingdom and the United States of America as well as to the Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering.

Sign our online petition nowBookmark this page for more updates – Stop Timber Corruption

September 14, 2010

Leaked Samling document acknowledges timber group’s role in sexual exploitation of Penan women


Leaked Samling document acknowledges timber group's role in sexual exploitation of Penan women

“All staff are forbidden to visit Penan villages”: Samling directive over Penan rape allegations (Picture: BMF)

MIRI, MALAYSIA. An internal document from Sarawak’s logging giant, Samling Global (HKEX 3938), leaked to the Bruno Manser Fund, acknowledges for the first time that the timber group is concerned about the involvement of its staff in the alleged rape of native Penan girls and women in Sarawak, East Malaysia.

On 9 July 2010, Chin That Thong, General Manager of Samling’s Forest Operations in Malaysia, sent a directive, entitled “Kes Rogol Wanita Penan” (Rape Case of Penan Women)”, to all Samling timber camp managers, drivers and employees in the Baram river region. The letter informs the logging group’s staff that they are “forbidden to visit any Penan villages or transport any Penan except with the permission of the Camp Managers concerned.” Chin threatens employees who are found to have disobeyed his orders with expulsion from their jobs without compensation.

The letter was sent three days after the Malaysian Penan Support Group published a study that unearthed systematic patterns of sexual violence by loggers against native women in Sarawak’s interior. While Samling had previously denied the involvement of its staff in the sexual abuse cases, this letter indirectly acknowledges that Samling staff are indeed involved and that the group management is concerned over their insufficient control of their employees’ conduct.

Ten days ago, Penan from the Upper Baram region complained that Samling officials had threatened to suspend all the transport services provided for them unless they retracted the sexual abuse allegations.

The leaked document provides strong evidence of the fact that the presence of Samling staff in the Penan areas constitutes a continuous threat to the native communities, and particularly to girls and women. The Bruno Manser Fund is asking the Sarawak state government to halt all logging operations in areas where Samling and other companies operate without the consent of the local communities. The Sarawak government is also being asked to provide free public transport services for the rural communities and, in particular, for schoolchildren.

Samling is a globally operating Malaysian timber conglomerate with an annual turnover of US$ 480 million. In August 2010, the Norwegian Government Pension fund excluded Samling from its portfolio because of the company’s responsibility for illegal logging and severe environmental damage.

(14 September 2010)

Samling_directive_translation.pdf (130KB)

Read also MISSION REVEALS MORE SEXUAL ABUSE CASES

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