The fallout from a video by Global Witness exposing widespread corruption in Sarawak continues, as the Bruno Manser Fund, a European NGO, has called on the Companies Commission of Malaysia to “dereigster” land corporations highlighted in the video. The video purports to connect the head of Sarawak, Chief Minister Taib Mahmud, to illegal land deals on indigenous territory.
“The two companies, Billion Venture Sdn Bhd and Ample Agro Sdn Bhd, were exposed last week by Global Witness in a secretly recorded film. In the film, two Taib cousins and two lawyers blatantly admitted that the two companies are being used to illegally enrich the family and a crony of Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud by selling off state-owned land to foreign investors,” the press release from the Bruno Manser Fund reads.
One of the lawyers caught on tape actually says that in order for foreign investors to purchase land they would have to put up a 10 percent kickback for the Taib. Others in the video talk flippantly about employing tax evasion and bribery in land deals, noting repeatedly that “it’s been done before.”
Billion Venture Sdn Bhd is currently embroiled in a court dispute over lands with three indigenous tribes in Sarawak, the Kelabit, Penan and Lun Bawang.
Outside observers have long alleged that Sarawak’s government, headed by Taib Mahmud for over 30 years, is built on widespread corruption, often at expense of the state’s long-oppressed indigenous peoples.
However, Taib himself, who is currently under investigation by the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC), denied any connection to the video.
“I saw the so-called proof. Could it not be someone trying to promote themselves to become an agent to get favors from me?” he told journalist Liza Bong when asked about the video. “It has nothing to do with me right? I think it is a bit naughty of them for using their big power to blacken my name.”
He added, “They are trying to frame me.”
Another NGO, Transparency Watchdog, has asked for Taib to immediately step down from his post.
(03/22/2013) Following the release of video footage apparently linking Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud to kickbacks for forestry concessions, anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International is calling for the Malaysian leader to immediately resign from his post.
(03/20/2013) Tax evasion, kick-backs, bribery, and corruption all make appearances in a shocking new undercover video by Global Witness that shows how top individuals in the Sarawak government may be robbing the state of revenue for their own personal gain. Anti-corruption groups have believed that corruption has been rife in the Malaysian state of Sarawak for decades, but Global Witness says their investigation offers undeniable proof.
(01/14/2013) Malaysia’s current opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim, has pledged to cancel the controversial Baram Dam in Sarawak if upcoming general elections sweep him into the office of Prime Minister. Ibrahim made the announcement while visiting the state of Sarawak, located on the island of Borneo, over the weekend, according to the indigenous rights NGO, Bruno Manser Fund.
(11/15/2012) Members of the Penan tribe have suspended their month long blockade of the Murum dam in the Malaysian state of Sarawak, reports Survival International. However, according to the indigenous group the fight is not over: the departing Penan said the Sarawak government had one month to respond to demands for sufficient compensation for the dam’s impact or face another blockade. Over 300 Penan people participated in the blockade, which stopped traffic leading to the construction site.
(11/13/2012) A top minister in the Malaysian state of Sarawak has told activists campaigning for cleaner energy to ‘stop breathing’, reports The Borneo Post.
(10/08/2012) Indigenous people have expanded their blockade against the Murum dam in the Malaysian state of Sarawak, taking over an additional road to prevent construction materials from reaching the dam site. Beginning on September 26th with 200 Penan people, the blockade has boomed to well over 300. Groups now occupy not just the main route to the dam site, but an alternative route that the dam’s contractor, the China-located Three Gorges Project Corporation, had begun to use.