Archive for category Sarawak

East Malaysia: primus inter pares

By James Chin, Guest Contributor
New Mandala
4 September 2013

Last Saturday Malaysia celebrated her 56th year of independence in Dataran Merdeka in central Kuala Lumpur.

Many people in East Malaysia, however, may not be celebrating. Why? 31th August is the date of independence for Malaya but not the Malaysian federation. The fact is, the federation of Malaysia was proclaimed on 16th September 1963, and the federation of Malaysia is 50 years old, not 56. This simple fact is often ignored by Putrajaya much to the annoyance of East Malaysians.

When Najib Tun Razak became Malaysia’s prime minister in 2009, he declared that 16thSeptember is be called “Malaysia Day” and added it as a public holiday in the country. Prime Minister Najib’s concession was no doubt linked to the 2008 general elections when voters from East Malaysia helped Barisan Nasional to retain power when voters in the peninsula abandoned the BN.

While recognition of 16th September is welcomed in East Malaysia, the bigger issues for most East Malaysians are the ‘20 Points’ and political recognition that East Malaysia should treated as an equal partner, not merely two of the 13 states in the federation. Read the rest of this entry »

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Global corruption watchdog demands MACC act on Taib

by Elizabeth Zachariah
The Malaysian Insider
Jul 05, 2013

An international corruption watchdog has slammed the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commissioner (MACC) for their delay in wrapping up their probe into the alleged corrupt practices of Sarawak’s Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud (pic).

Global Witness noted that the probe began in 2011 and yet no charges had been brought against Taib.

It wanted the MACC to get Taib to declare all his offshore assets, including those held by family members.

Global Witness came to prominence just before the election when it released a video tape showing recordings of conversations between its private investigators and two of Taib’s cousins.

Datuk Paul Low, who was then chairman of Transparency International Malaysia, had urged the Government to immediately commission a panel of independent and reputable external auditors to examine and identify cases of suspected corruption and abuse of public office with regard to state resources and land deals.

GW commended Low whose anti-corruption ambitions include combating graft and improving transparency.

However, they are now holding him to that promise as Low is now Minister in Prime Minister’s Department in charge of the implementation of transparency in the government. Read the rest of this entry »

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The right of rural communities in Sarawak to equitable development after 50 years of formation of Malaysia, particularly rural road access to Kapit and Belaga, should be one of the main issues of the 11th Sarawak state general elections expected in 18-24 months

The Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s condolences yesterday to the bereaved families who lost their loved ones in the Belaga boat disaster is most appropriate although made two days after the tragedy and after I had made adverse comments on the “silence and indifference” of the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister as they “had not said a single word on the Belaga boat disaster in the past two days”.

However, I am very disappointed that apart from calling for “a detailed investigation to determine the cause of the boat tragedy in Sungai Rajang, Sarawak on Tuesday”, both the Federal and Sarawak State governments have continued to ignore the problem of rural road access in Sarawak especially to Kapit and Belaga – which is the root cause of the tragedy of express boat disasters in upriver areas of Sungai Rajang.

The Women, Family and Community Development Minister, Datuk Rahani Abdul Karim yesterday visited Belaga to convey the condolences of the Prime Minister to the families of victims of the Belaga boat tragedy, and a Bernama reported quoted her as saying:

“Yesterday, during the weekly meeting of the Cabinet, the prime minister was so sad over the incident, and he directed me to come (today) as a representative of the federal government.”

This raises the question why Najib or the Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin or the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of the Malaysian Security Council (MKN) Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim had not visited Belaga themselves to get first-hand information of the Belaga boat tragedy – which they would have done if the Belaga disaster had occurred before the 13GE polling date on May 5.

Why should a difference of 23 days between May 5 and May 28 when the Belaga boat tragedy occurred make such a great difference as to whether the PM, DPM or the Minister in the PM’s Department, would have made a personal trip to Belaga themselves?

In fact, if the tragedy had happened before May 5, even the Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud would have personally visited Belaga himself, instead of just leaving it to Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Alfred Jabu Numpang. Read the rest of this entry »

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Was the Belaga boat disaster on the agenda of the Federal Cabinet yesterday and did the Cabinet take any decision to rectify the 50-year failure in equitable development in Sarawak by ensuring road access to Kapit and Belaga?

The questions that should be uppermost in the minds of Malaysians when the Dayaks celebrate Dayak Gawai is whether the Belaga boat disaster on Tuesday, with 179 survivors while 11 others are still missing, was on the agenda of the Federal Cabinet yesterday.

The second question is whether and what did the Cabinet decide to rectify the 50-year failure in equitable development in Sarawak by ensuring road access to Kapit and Belaga.

If the answers are negative to one or both, the third question is what difference has the appointment of seven full ministers and four deputy ministers from Sarawak to the Federal Cabinet made to the thrust of national socio-economic and infrastructure development so as deliver belated socio-economic justice to the rural populace in Sarawak?

In fact, if the tragic Belaga boast disaster had happened before May 5 – the polling day of the 13th general election – either the Prime Minister or the Deputy Prime Minister would have visited Belaga with 24 hours to personally convey the condolences of the Federal Government, as compared to the indifference shown by the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, who have not said a single word on the Belaga boat disaster in the past two days.

It is heart-wrenching that despite the express boat tragedy in the middle of the Balui River which is feared to have claimed 11 lives, the Kapit jetty yesterday was as crowded as ever with people desperate to go home for the Dayak Gawai harvest festival this weekend.
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Kemalangan bot Belaga sepatutnya dianggap sebagai bencana negara kerana itu merupakan bukti tragis kegagalan 50 tahun pembangunan di Sarawak yang masih tidak mempunyai akses jalanraya ke kawasan pedalaman

DAP terkejut dan kesal dengan tragedi bot Belaga pagi semalam yang mana sebuah bot ekspress karam di Sungai Rajang, dengan 23 penumpang masih hilang ketika operasi mencari dan menyelamat berhenti semalam disebabkan waktu malam.

Setakat ini, 181 penumpang berjaya untuk berenang ke tempat selamat selepas bot ekspress yang dinaiki karam di kawasan Jeram Tukok/Jeram Bungan, lebih kurang empat jam perjalanan dari Sibu.

Siasatan awal menunjukkan bahawa bot ekspres itu telah melebihi kapasiti 67 tempat duduk dan dipercayai terlebih muatan dengan 200 penumpang pulang dari pesta Gawai Dayak, kemudian menghadapi masalah enjin gagal berfungsi sebelum merempuh batu dan karam.

Pengerusi Lembaga Sungai Sarawak (SRB) Datuk Roland Sagah telah mengumumkan satu siasatan penuh akan diadakan terhadap insiden tragis itu, memberi amaran tindakan akan diambil terhadap operator bot kerana gagal mengikut nasihat supaya tidak membawa lebih muatan atau membenarkan penumpang memanjat bumbung apabila kapal terlalu penuh ketika menyelusuri di sungai.

Malangnya, siasatan sedemikian tidak akan mengembalikan nyawa mereka yang telah terkorban di dalam insiden kemalangan bot di Sarawak.

Dua tahun lalu, 13 penumpang terkorban di dalam tragedi bot yang serupa di kawasan Tatau berhampiran pekan Bintulu.

Kemalangan bot Belaga sepatutnya dianggap sebagai bencana negara kerana itu merupakan bukti tragis kegagalan 50 tahun pembangunan di Sarawak yang masih tidak mempunyai akses jalanraya ke kawasan pedalaman. Read the rest of this entry »

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Belaga boat accident should be regarded as a national disaster as it is tragic proof of failure of 50 years of equitable development in Sarawak with still no road access to rural districts

DAP is shocked and outraged at the tragic Belaga boat disaster yesterday morning where an express boat sank in the Rajang River, with 23 passengers still missing when search and rescue (SAR) operations stopped yesterday because of nightfall.

So far, 181 passengers managed to swim to safety after the ill-fated express boat sank at the Jeram Tukok/Jeram Bungan area, about four hours’ journey upriver from Sibu.

Initial investigation indicated that the express boat had exceeded its capacity for 67 seated passengers as it was believed to be overloaded with over 200 passengers returning home for the Gawai Dayak festivities, and had encountered engine failure before crashing into a rock and sank.

The Sarawak Rivers Board (SRB) Chairman Datuk Roland Sagah has announced a full investigation into the tragic accident, warning of appropriate action against the express boat operator for failing to heed the advice not to overload or allow passengers to climb on the roof when the vessel was too full while plying the rivers.

Unfortunately, such investigations are not going to bring back to life those who have perished in the latest boat disaster in Sarawak.

Two years ago, 13 passengers died in a similar express boat tragedy in Tatau district near Bintulu town.

The Belaga boat accident yesterday should be regarded as a national disaster as it is tragic proof of failure of 50 years of equitable development in Sarawak with still no road access to rural districts. Read the rest of this entry »

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Umno’s reactionary GE13 ‘victory’

by Bridget Welsh
Malaysiakini
May 12, 2013

COMMENT

The May 2013 general election was a potential transition election in which the BN governing coalition held onto power.

The majority of the Malaysians supported an alternative government, but the incumbent Umno elite, supported by vested interests and years of constructing an electoral system in its favour, won out.

Even with yet another multi-ethnic national swing in electoral support towards Pakatan and more Malaysians voting than ever before, the incumbent elite in power held on, thwarting democracy.

Earlier, I pointed to some of the specific questions surrounding the electoral roll, the placement of voters, the conduct of the election itself and the character of the results, highlighting many of the unanswered questions of GE13.

The process of evidence gathering has begun and in the months ahead many of the irregularities in the polls will be illustrated and investigated. Read the rest of this entry »

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Pakatan makes ‘big’ inroads in Borneo

FMT Staff| May 6, 2013 FMT
Free Malaysia Today

Pakatan Rakyat candidates slayed four federal ministers – three in Sabah and one in Sarawak.

KOTA KINABALU: Pakatan Rakyat made impressive inroads in Sabah and Sarawak in the 13th general election which ended yesterday.

In 2008, Pakatan was hardly visible in these states.

As at 2am this morning, Pakatan candidates had slayed four federal ministers – three in Sabah and one in Sarawak.

They were VK Liew, Bernard Dompok and Joseph Kurup from Sabah and Yong Koon Seng from Sarawak. Read the rest of this entry »

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Psy war as both sides leak GE13 ‘win’ numbers

By Jahabar Sadiq
Editor
The Malaysian Insider
May 05, 2013

KUALA LUMPUR, May 5 — Both Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Rakyat (PR) began leaking numbers of possible wins in the tight Election 2013 race just as voters finished casting their ballots today.

The BN is confident of winning 145 federal seats, with at least 118 in the white list, said sources from the coalition’s war room.

But PR is also bullish about capturing Putrajaya, with sources saying that it can win at least 117 federal seats. It is understood that an independent poll showed possibly taking at least 125 seats, with at least 40 per cent of the Malay vote in the bag.

The Umno-controlled Berita Harian has also been publishing an exit poll of various hot seats that indicate BN are in the lead. It is learnt that the numbers are from the BN war room.

PR sources say that their worst-case scenario is taking 100 federal seats and possibly wresting the Perak and Negri Sembilan state assemblies while keeping Kelantan, Kedah, Penang and Selangor.

But BN sources say they are also confident of keeping Perak and taking Kedah and Kelantan as part of their “Blue Wave” campaign. Read the rest of this entry »

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Ordinary Malaysians, extraordinary day

by Bridget Welsh
Malaysiakini
May 5, 2013

GE13 SPECIAL On this historic day of GE13, Malaysians are bravely stepping into the unknown. Some are already queuing up to vote, and yet others are waiting for the crowd to disperse before heading out to the polling stations. Every Malaysian knows today will not be an ordinary day.

There are four intense but quiet battles taking place that will shape whether May 5 will indeed bring about change.

The first battle is a personal one, national in scope, taking place deep in the hearts of every Malaysian. It is a contest over what sort of country Malaysia should be. Many Malaysians are voting for a different moral foundation for the country’s politics.

The anger and sense of disbelief of BN governance runs deep, from the issues of corruption to its racial polemics. While there are many Malaysians who strongly support the status quo, among this group are many who question whether something is not quite right.

Indeed, today the country will be voting for its soul. Read the rest of this entry »

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Catch him if you can: the mysterious escape of Malaysia’s second richest man

by Mark Baker
Editor-at-Large, The Age

Onn Mahmud was a wealthy tycoon with a bulging property portfolio when he jetted off without warning in 2007.

Number 10 Wylde Street, Potts Point, commands views to die for on a harbour not short of heart-stopping vistas. Perched high above Woolloomooloo Bay, it faces directly across the sweep of the botanical gardens to the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

For a while, a few years ago, it was the site for one of the most luxurious apartment developments in Australia. In 2008, the duplex penthouse in the five-storey project was sold off the plan for a record price of $20 million.

A year earlier – on the cusp of such riches – the Malaysian tycoon who had brought the project close to fruition abruptly sold the site as he quietly folded most of his substantial Sydney property portfolio and exited the Australian business scene. Read the rest of this entry »

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9-Day Countdown to 13GE Polling Day: Sarawak BN has conceded that 11 parliamentary seats in the state are in danger – a step closer to Putrajaya

I have just returned from a 42-hour whistle-stop visit to Sarawak and Sabah, where I challenged voters in the three Barisan Nasional “fixed deposit states” of Sarawak, Sabah and Johor to rise up to the historic challenge to achieve the target of winning a total of 33 Parliamentary seats in the 13GE from the three states – which is an important precondition for Malaysians to effect change in Putrajaya with Pakatan Rakyat replacing Barisan Nasional as the new Federal Government of Malaysia.

It is a tall order for the three BN “fixed deposit” states of Sarawak, Sabah and Johore to win for Pakatan Rakyat 33 out of the total of 83 parliamentary seats in these three states on 13GE Polling Day on May 5, as PR only won three or one in each state in the 2008 general elections – namely Bandar Kuching in Sarawak, Kota Kinabalu in Sabah and Bakri in Johore – but it is not an impossible target as it would have been five years ago.

I am encouraged from my lightning visits to Sabah (Sandakan and Kota Kinabalu) on Wednesday and Sarawak (Kuching, Mas Gading where our parliamentary candidate is Mordi Bimol and Serian where our parliamentary candidate is Edward Andrew Luat) yesterday that the winds of change are blowing strong and hard in these two states.

It was in Sabah that the catchcry “Ini Kalilah” and in Sarawak where the other catchcry “UBAH” first rang out loud and clear and which have now been joined as “Ini Kalilah – UBAH” to become the common cry and inspiration of all Malaysians in the country who want change to embrace the Malaysian Dream and an end to the politics of race, corruption, cronyism, abuses of power, violation of democratic and human rights, injustices and lack of good governance!
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Three Challenges to three Barisan Nasional “fixed deposit states” of Sarawak, Sabah and Johore on their catalytic role to take Pakatan Rakyat to Putrajaya in 13GE

The coming 13th GE is the most historic and significant one in the 56-year history of the nation as Malaysians will decide if the change of Federal government in Putrajaya will come about on Polling Day on May 5, 2013.

The battle of the 13GE is the battle between the politics of the future represented by the Pakatan Rakyat coalition versus the politics of the past as practised by the Barisan Nasional in the past few decades.

The politics of the past is the politics of race and the politics of rampant corruption, cronyism, massive abuses of power, gross violation of democratic and human rights, injustices, unsustainable development because of despoilation of the environment, lack of transparency, accountability and good governance.

The politics of the future transcends racial politics where Malaysians unite not because they are Malays, Chinese, Indians, Ibans or Kadazans but because they are Malaysian patriots who dare the dream the Malaysian Dream to create a more harmonious, just, free, progressive and prosperous Malaysia for all Malaysians.
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24-Day Countdown to 13GE Polling Day – Vision 2050 for Malaysians

Yesterday I completed the series of 100-day countdown of daily statements to the 13GE which I started on 1st January 2013, not expecting to have to complete it as it was then generally expected that the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak would have dissolved Parliament after the Chinese New year holidays in February for the long-awaited 13th General Elections to be held.

The 100th-Day Countdown to 13GE statement yesterday, in which I challenged Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad to a series of seven public debates on his 22-year premiership as Mahathir has made the 13GE a double referendum on both the Najib and Mahathir premierships, coincided with the announcement by the Election Commission of 20th April as Nomination Day and 5th May as Polling Day for the historic 13GE.

I am therefore beginning today a new series of 24-Day Countdown to 13GE Polling Day statements.

I have said that the Battle of Gelang Patah is to kick off the Battle of Johore and the larger Battle of Malaysia for two reasons:

Firstly, to launch off a political tsunami from the south in the 13GE to complete the partial 2008 political tsunami, including winning over one-third of the total of 83 parliamentary seats in the three fixed deposit states of Johor, Sabah and Sarawak (ideally, 33 seats from Johor, Sabah and Sarawak) to complete the partial 2008 political tsunami towards the establishment of a Pakatan Rakyat federal government in Putrajaya.
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From fixed deposits to kingmakers

By Oh Ei Sun | APRIL 09, 2013
The Malaysian Insider

APRIL 9 — Malaysia’s coming general election, widely characterised as a potential “watershed” event, will see many first-time voters play a decisive role in determining which way the country will go. Will they vote to retain the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition or opt for the opposition alliance, Pakatan Rakyat?

Carrying a critical weight in the outcome will be the east Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak.

Out of the 222 seats in Parliament, more than a quarter are in Sabah (with 25 seats) and Sarawak (31), leading some to label these states as kingmakers in the polls that are expected to be closely contested.

In Peninsular Malaysia, any potential loss by BN of its predominantly non-Bumiputera seats can be counterbalanced by gains in predominantly Bumiputera seats. This would give a net election result in Peninsular Malaysia like that in 2008, when BN only narrowly surpassed Pakatan. Had Sabah and Sarawak not brought in the 56 seats then, there could have been a change of government in Putrajaya.

THE SWING PHENOMENON
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Battle of Gelang Patah to fulfil the Malaysian Dream of an united multiracial Malaysian people rising above race which was envisioned by the great Johore Malay leader and founding UMNO President Datuk Onn Jaffar six decades ago

The battle of Gelang Patah is not just a battle for Lim Kit Siang, DAP or Pakatan Rakyat.

It is a battle for all Malaysians, the nation as well as future generations, with two portentous, unprecedented and far-reaching meaning and significance.

Firstly, the battle of Gelang Patah is to launch off a political tsunami in the 13th general elections from the south spreading all over the country, crossing the South China Sea to Sabah and Sarawak, to complete the unfinished business of the “political tsunami” of the 2008 general elections which saw the fall of Umno/Barisan Nasional in five states and the deprivation of the UMNO/BN two-thirds parliamentary majority for the first time in Malaysian history.

The 2008 “political tsunami” emanated from the north in Penang, Kedah and Kelantan coming down south to Perak (although in less than a year there was an undemocratic, illegal and unconstitutional “power grab” orchestrated by Datuk Seri Najib Razak and which await a restoration of Pakatan Rakyat Perak State government in the 13GE) and Selangor, fizzling out in Negri Sembilan and leaving the three fixed deposit states of Johore, Sabah and Sarawak virtually untouched.

However, the 2008 “political tsunami” has brought about a tectonic shift in the political landscape, as only five years ago it was completely unthinkable and impossible for anyone to hope or dream that there could be a change of federal government through the ballot box.
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Malaysia’s independent radios jammed, sites hit by cyberattacks

The Malaysian Insider | APRIL 07, 2013

KUALA LUMPUR, April 7 – Two independent radios, Radio Free Sarawak and Radio Free Malaysia, have been jammed in Malaysia and their web sites inaccessible due to cyberattacks, says its founder.

The two stations broadcast from London on short-wave frequencies and are available online through their websites and online database Soundcloud.

“There have been attempts at broadcast interference on both radio stations by jamming from different parts of the world over the past few days. These have had limited success so far and we have been working on tracing the perpetrators,” founder Clare Rewcastle-Brown was quoted as saying by Malaysiakini.

Coordinated cyberattacks on their respective web sites were recorded all yesterday; they “came from all over, it appears, but mainly from the US and Malaysia, and our servers had to close down”, she added.

The Sarawak Report web site, the first launched by Rewcastle-Brown, similarly came under attack but was holding out.
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Taib has delivered a coup de grace to Najib’s pretensions of elevating “fighting corruption” as top agenda of his transformation programme when Taib is not only mightier than MACC but also the Prime Minister

The photograph of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak flamboyantly signing the Transparency International-Malaysia (TIM) “Election Integrity Pledge” on February 20 flanked by UMNO/Barisan Nasional leaders, with the Sarawak Chief Minister, Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, the bete’ noire of international anti-corruption campaigns, glaring malevolently from the back and the MCA President Datuk Seri Dr. Chua Soi Lek in a somnabulant pose, will go down as one of the most unforgettable pics of the 13th General Elections.

This is because nobody, including the TIM President Paul Low, seated importantly on Najib’s left and who could not suppress a cynical sneer, really believed Najib and his Umno/BN Ministers and colleagues have even an ounce of sincerity in wanting to eradicate grand corruption and gross abuses of power in the country.

It was just a meaningless public relations exercise scripted by Najib’s political consultants and image-builders to score political points in the 13GE, destroying in the process all credibility and legitimacy of TIM’s Election Integrity Pledge.

How can Najib for instance convince Malaysians that he is now a “convert” in the fight against corruption and abuses of power when Malaysia in the past four years is most corrupt in the nation’s 56-year history when compared to the previous five Prime Ministers, whether Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak, Tun Hussein, Tun Mahathir or Tun Abdullah – as testified by the annual Transparency International Corruption Perception Index (CPI) since 1995 well as by the perceptions of all Malaysians down the 56 years of the nation’s history.

In fact, Najib proceeded to violate one item after another of the TI-M Election Integrity Pledge (EIP) before the ink of his signature was dry, chalking quite a catalogue of violations in the 44 days since his signature of the TI-M Election Integrity Pledge which made a total mockery of the four principles of the TI-M EIP, viz: Read the rest of this entry »

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Might as well dissolve MACC after Taib snub

– The Malaysian Insider
April 04, 2013

APRIL 4 – Naughty seems to be the byword in Sarawak.

The long-serving state chief minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud used that word today to describe the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) for its investigations into alleged graft in timber land awards.

“They don’t deserve my cooperation because they have been naughty… and they have not been honest,” he told reporters in Kuala Lumpur. Read the rest of this entry »

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Taib says Global Witness video expose was ‘sneaky’

By Zurairi AR
The Malaysian Insider
April 05, 2013

KUCHING, April 5 — Tan Sri Taib Mahmud has challenged Global Witness to debate him on the issue of illegal land deals in Sarawak, and accused the international environmental activist group of having a hidden agenda by visiting Malaysia’s biggest state in a “sneaky way”.

He has also suggested links between Global Witness and opposition parties.

“The timing is too much to ignore … I think there is a link between them and the opposition,” said the long-serving Sarawak chief minister, who noted the release of a video showing how illegal land deals are allegedly brokered in the state happened just before with Election 2013 which will be held soon.

Global Witness’ accusations against him were also the result of second-hand information obtained from the Bruno Manser Fund (BMF), Taib said in a video interview uploaded online yesterday.

He invited the international activists to observe the real situation in Sarawak themselves as he trumpeted the state’s many achievements in preserving its forests.

“Global Witness should … not (be) hiding behind some picked up second-hand tales from a fellow NGO,” Taib told the Malaysian Observer (MobTV) channel, referring to environmental and human rights group BMF. Read the rest of this entry »

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