Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Malaysian NGOs Demand Taib to Be Prosecuted

Wednesday, 13 Apr 2011

Under Taib Sarawakians become among the poorest in Malaysia! But this bloody old sick-man still can afford a new and young wife!

Malaysian non-governmental organisations have banded together to demand that Sarawak’s longest serving Chief Minister Taib Mahmud resigns ahead of state polls due for balloting on Saturday.

They also want the government to set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry to investigate his and his family's fabulous wealth amid allegations that he is one of the world's richest men while Sarawak remains one of Malaysia's poorest states.

“We call upon Taib Mahmud to resign as chief minister in light of the latest exposés of his family’s world-wide assets and the RCI should try to recoup all this ill-gotten wealth from Taib and his family,” the Coalition of Malaysian NGOs (COMANGO) said in a statement released on Wednesday.

“From the widely publicised 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,” it said, pointing out that his family has companies in Canada, Britain, Australia, Hong Kong, and the US, in addition to the ones within the country.

Comango is made up of 42 NGOs including Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM), Aliran Kesedaran Negara (ALIRAN), All Women’s Action Society (AWAM), Amnesty International Malaysia (AI Malaysia), Bersih 2.0, Centre for Orang Asli Concerns (COAC), Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ), Lawyers for Liberty (LFL), and Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM).

It pointed out that the poverty rate in Sarawak was one of the highest 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," Comango said.

“This is unacceptable when the state is so rich in natural resources. Sarawak gets only five per cent of 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."

Apart from his wealth, Taib wields enormous influence in Sarawak and is able to defy even Prime Minister Najib Razak, who had told Sarawakians that Taib had agreed to step down soon. “Believe me, at the right timing, this will be done,” said Najib on Sunday.

Yet on Monday, Taib told a rally he would only relinquish his seat in "a few years'" time.

“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,” said Comango.

Comango also slammed the Taib administration for banning them from entering the state for “anti-logging activities”.

“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 exposés of their exploitation of the state’s resources and its peoples," the group said.

“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 exposé of the rape of Penan girls and women by personnel in the logging camps has created indignation among concerned peoples all over the world."

Comango also called the controversial 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 island, has 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,” it said.

It was only the contractors and vested interests that have profited from this project, while Malaysian taxpayers were stuck with an economic and environmental white elephant, said the coalition of NGOs.

“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," the statement read.

“We call for the renegotiation of oil royalty rights (more than 30 per cent) and a higher proportion of development allocation (more than 10 per cent) 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."

Mupok Aku

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