COALITION OF MALAYSIAN NGOS CALLS ON GOVERNMENT TO SET UP ROYAL COMMISSION OF INQUIRY INTO TAIB MAHMUD’S DISPROPORTIONATE WEALTH
Joint statement by COMANGO, 13 April 2011
From the widely publicized wealth and world-wide interests of Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud’s family on the internet, the Coalition of Malaysian NGOs calls on the Government to urgently set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry to investigate Taib’s disproportionate wealth that does not befit a civil servant’s while Sarawakians are among the poorest in the country. Taib’s unseemly wealth while so many indigenous peoples are living in abject conditions or have been unceremoniously displaced from their ancestral homes warrants a thorough investigation into how Taib’s wealth has been accumulated during his 30-year as Chief Minister of Sarawak.
It is clear that even the Prime Minister knows that Taib is the liability to the BN in this state election and that is why he is at pains to stress that Taib will go. Meanwhile, Taib is still standing in the elections and appears to want to be around for the next five years at least.
We call upon Taib Mahmud to resign as Chief Minister in the light of the latest exposes of his family’s world-wide assets and the RCI should try to recoup all this ill-gotten wealth from Taib and his family.
Apart from Malaysian-based companies owned by Taib’s family, companies scattered through the world associated with Taib Mahmud’s family have been uncovered as follows:
Companies associated with Taib’s family
Malaysia: Achi Jaya Holdings Sdn Bhd; Borsarmulu Resort Sdn Bhd (213014-M); Cahya Mata Sarawak Sdn Bhd (21076-T); K&N Kenanga Holdings Bhd; Kumpulan Parabena Sdn Bhd; Mesti Bersatu Sdn Bhd (758849-V); Naim Holdings Berhad (585467-M); Sanyan Group; Sarawak Aluminium Company (783974-K); Sarawak Energy Bhd.; Ta Ann Group; Titanium Management Sdn Bhd; UBG Berhad (240931-X)
Canadian companies: 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).
British companies: Ridgeford Properties Ltd (3268801) and Ridgeford Consulting Ltd (5572163). Ridgeford Properties Ltd is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Canadian City Gate International Corporation.
Australia: Australian Universities International Alumni Convention Pty Ltd (ACN: 081942903); Donmastry Pty Ltd (ACN: 093 907 843); Geneid Holdings Pty Ltd (ACN: 087759751); Golborne Pty Ltd. (ACN: 061844148); Golden Sovereign Development Ltd (ACN 103 925 613); Kesuma Holdings Pty Ltd. (ACN 105540636); Newtop Holdings Pty Ltd (ACN: 066588225); Ostgro Australia Pty Ltd (ACN: 094721070); Sitehost Pty Ltd (ACN: 062312743); Valentine on George Pty Ltd (ACN: 105541562) British Virgin Islands: Astar Properties Ltd. (201522); CMS Global (BVI) Ltd.; Tess Investments Ltd (203511)
Hong Kong: Grand Shine Trading Ltd (0127665); Grand Will Ltd (0133932); Herolite Investment Ltd (129119); Natalite Investment Ltd (129502); Regent Star Company Ltd (0130318); Richfold Investment Ltd (0130308); Whittaker Company Ltd (0161304)
Jersey: Sogo Holdings Ltd (43148)
USA: Sakti International Corporation Inc.; Wallysons Inc (the owner of the FBI building in Seattle!); W.A. Boylston Inc; W.A.Everett Inc.
The RCI should be able to assess the value of all these assets owned by Taib and his family and they must account for all this wealth.
Malaysian NGO Activists Banned from Sarawak
Taib Mahmud has been Chief Minister, Finance Minister and State Planning and Resources Minister of Sarawak since 1981. He has allowed logging of hundreds of thousands of hectares of tropical rainforest by logging companies and marginalized the state’s indigenous communities.
His main critics all these years have been concerned Malaysian NGOs which have worked tirelessly to protect Sarawak’s forests and her indigenous peoples from the timber tycoons and dam builders. Consequently, many Malaysian NGO activists have been banned from entering the state – “for anti-logging activities” – even though Sarawak is a part of their own country. This gross violation of the basic human right to freedom of movement and abuse of Sarawak’s immigration rules show that Taib and his state government are afraid of more exposes of their exploitation of the state’s resources and its peoples.
Sarawak’s Rich Resources Stripped Bare
From a state rich in oil and timber, Sarawak has been stripped bare. While we read about the fabulous wealth of Taib and his family spread all over the world, the poverty rate in Sarawak is one of the highest in the country. This is unacceptable when the state is so rich in natural resources. Sarawak gets only 5% of the oil royalties; the rest goes to the federal government, while most of the profits from timber go to the state government. As a result, the Taib Mahmud state government has been flagrantly promoting logging all these years.
Logging companies work on thousands of acres of forest that traditionally belong to the indigenous peoples such as the Kayan, Kenyah, and Penan. It has been estimated that more than 80 per cent of the primary forest in Sarawak has been logged in the past 40 years alone. Sarawak’s 2010 production was 10 million cubic metres; the state exported nearly 4 million cubic metres of logs worth RM2 billion. (Star, 16.2.2011) Measure that against the recent report in December last year when 1000 Penans at Lusong Laku near Miri were totally cut off because the iron bridge that had been used by the logging company there had been replaced by a makeshift wooden one when they left before the impounding of the Bakun dam and this had collapsed.
Rape of Penan Girls
The logging industry has destroyed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in Sarawak, especially the indigenous peoples. To add insult to injury, the recent expose of the rape of Penan girls and women by personnel in the logging camps has created indignation among concerned peoples all over the world. The fact finding mission by Malaysian NGOs which went to investigate this scandal confirmed these reports of rape and harassment of Penan girls and women. They called for respect for the rights of the indigenous peoples and for the police to investigate all these cases, justice and adequate compensation for all the victims. One of the reasons given for the police apathy was the lack of resources to investigate these cases!
Bakun Dam: Disruptive, Dubious and Disastrous
The displacement of more than 10,000 indigenous peoples comprising 15 different ethnic communities for the Bakun Dam
in 1998 was traumatic in itself. Their resettlement to Sg Asap has meant continuing trauma and deterioration of once capable and spirited peoples. The whole Bakun area, the size of Singapore Islandhas also been thoroughly logged, transforming the once beautiful Rajang into the biggest muddiest river in this part of the world, destroying the hunting and fishing grounds of the indigenous peoples. The recent 240km logjam on the Rajang can be said to be one of the worst environmental disasters in Malaysia in recent years.
The decision to implement “Operation Exodus” by the Mahathir/Taib Administration was unforgivable when the Bakun project had been suspended in 1998 because of the financial crisis. It did not stop Ekran Bhd subcontracting another Ting Pek Khing company, Pacific Chemicals to harvest 1000 hectares of forest and extracting 79,000 cubic metres of timber from the Bakun area. In 1998, nearly RM1 billion of Malaysian tax payers’ money was paid out to these companies which had been involved in the project.
Show us the Bakun Dam Emergency Response Plan
That is why concerned Malaysian NGOs have all along maintained that this Bakun HEP project is socially disruptive, economically dubious and environmentally disastrous. And now that we have learnt the lessons of the recent earthquake in Japan, can the Taib State Government show us a Bakun Dam Emergency Response Plan in the event of a dam collapse?
The economic cost of the Bakun dam remains to be counted. We learned recently that Sime Darby has lost more than RM2 billion as a result of their involvement in the Bakun project. For a state where total demand for electricity is less than 1000MW, we have built a dam that produces 2400 MW. And the state government plans to build more dams. Energy experts will tell you that having such enormous amount of excess energy is not a boon but is wasteful.
Clearly, the contractors and vested interests have profited from this project, Malaysian tax payers have to pay, more forests will be raped and more indigenous people will be displaced from their ancestral homes. To take up the excess electricity, energy-intensive industries such as aluminium smelters will be built and the developed countries will be too glad to offload their toxic industries away from their countries to Sarawak.
Sarawak still colonized by the West
When Sarawak first joined the federation, under the First Malaysia Plan, she got 10.5% of total development allocation. As one of the poorest territory in Malaysia, the development allocation for Sarawak instead of growing has fallen to 6.7% of total allocation under the Ninth Malaysia Plan. Under the Fifth and Sixth Malaysia Plans, the allocation for Sarawak was only 5.2% and 5.3% respectively. Only recently, the Education Minister said that 600 schools were in a critical condition, most of these in Sarawak and Sabah and they are thinking of privatizing these schools.
This is absolutely scandalous considering the government is about to buy six patrol boats for the navy for RM6 billion and guns worth RM700 million. When the government announced this recently they said we can afford these patrol vessels. Now, you don’t need RM1 million to build a new school, which means that with RM6 billion, we could build at least 6000 brand new schools in the whole country.
A New Deal for Sarawakians
The peoples of Sarawak deserve a government that respects basic human rights and cares about the welfare and holistic development of the people and environment. The indigenous peoples want a just solution to the encroachment into Native Customary Land by developers, plantation and logging companies and titles to their land.
It is time for Sarawakians to take their destiny into their own hands and work toward their own self-determination and the progress of their resource rich and beautiful land. It is time for Sarawakians to reclaim their rights and interests intended by the 18-point agreement when Sarawak joined the “Malaysian Federation of Malaya, Sarawak and Sabah”. This is what the federation should have been called – Sarawak and Sabah should not merely be two of the 13 states of Malaysia.
We call for the renegotiation of oil royalty rights (more than 30%) and a higher proportion of development allocation (more than 10%) for Sarawak. The lives of rural peoples should be improved by building proper tarred roads and better river transport to help the people market their produce; micro hydroelectric power facilities or solar powered facilities to supply electricity to each longhouse upstream; more and better schools and clinics to lift the living standards of the local people.
Today, as we celebrate the historic victories of the peoples over autocracy and plutocracy in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and more countries to come, we call on Sarawakians to seize the moment and do what has to be done at the next Sarawak State elections.
Self-determination for Sarawakians! Vote out the exploiters! Oust the autocrats!
1. Aliran Kesedaran Negara (ALIRAN)
2. All Women’s Action Society (AWAM)
3. Amnesty International Malaysia (AI Malaysia)
4. Bersih 2.0
5. Bruno Manser Fonds
6. Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ)
7. Child Development Initiative
8. Civil Rights Committee of The Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (CRC-KLSCAH)
9. Centre for Orang Asli Concerns (COAC)
10. Coalition of Good Governance Penang (CGGP)
11. Community Action Network (CAN)
12. Friends of Kota Damansara (FoKD)
13. Group of Concerned Citizens
14. Health Equity Initiatives (HEI)
15. Ikatan Hak Rakyat
16. Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (JERIT)
17. Johor Tamizhar Sangam
18. Klang Consumer Association
19. Lawyers for Liberty (LFL)
20. The LLG Cultural Development Centre in KL
21. Malaysia Youth and Students Democratic Movement (DEMA)
22. Malaysian Dravidian Association
23. Malaysian Indian Business Association
24. Malaysian Indian Development & Unity Association
25. Nationwide Human Development And Research Centre
26. Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM)
27. Penang Chinese Independent Schools Education Society
28. Penang Chung Ling High School Alumni 1973
29. People Service Organization
30. Persahabatan Semparuthi
31. Persatuan Kemajuan Pendidikan Malaysia
32. Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (EMPOWER)
33. Persatuan Masyarakat Selangor & Wilayah Persekutuan (PERMAS)
34. Persatuan Prihatin Belia Malaysia
35. Pusat Komunikasi Masyarakat (KOMAS)
36. Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM)
37. Sembang-Sembang Forum
38. Sem Kiong Angin
39. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
40. Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO)
41. Women’s Centre for Change, Penang (WCC)
42. Writers’ Alliance for Media Independence (WAMI)