Protest against one of Asia’s greatest kleptocrats
Mon, 26 Jul 2010 02:35
By Sophie Grig
COMMENT One of Asias greatest kleptocrats and single-handedly one of the most destructive forces against the environment, the Chief Minister of Sarawak, East Malaysia, Abdul Taib Mahmud, has been invited to present the opening address at the Said Business Schools inaugural Islamic Branding and Marketing Forum, July 26 (Monday).
During his 30 years of iron grip over Sarawak, Taib Mahmud has systematically plundered a country once rich in natural resources, oil and timber. He and his family are now multi-billionaires, while indigenous tribes resort to the law courts to reclaim their ancestral lands.
The Penan are struggling to keep his loggers out of the last corners of their jungle, one of the most precious remaining areas of biodiversity left on earth. A recent report has revealed shocking evidence of their treatment, including the systematic rape and abuse of their women by logging workers, an outrage that Taib has refused to acknowledge or investigate.
Taib has destroyed all but 3% of the Borneo jungle in the state, which had been handed all but intact into the care of his uncle, his predecessor. Habitats which are home to the Orang Utan, proboscis monkey, a plethora of unique plant and animal life have been destroyed due to his rapacious and unsustainable plunder of the jungle. Oil palm plantations span for miles and miles where ancient trees once stood before they were cut down. One would think that proceeds from exports would have been ploughed back into the state but the people of Sarawak remain some of the poorest in Malaysia.
Taibs business interests are notorious. The whole state of Sarawak has been illegally absorbed into the possession of his cronies and family members through privatisation and the handing out of palm oil and timber concessions, via arbitrary state acquisitions of native lands. He now runs the state as a family business, maintained through systematic electoral intimidation and fraud.
Taib has laughably advertised his UK visit as a promotion of green development in Sarawak and will be focusing on the promotion of Islamic and halal products, his latest venture, during his visit to Oxford. But, we ask just how halal are products produced under the auspices of this man ?
It is a standing disgrace that Oxford University should be extending a hand of welcome and supporting the status of such a man. His wealth and ability to endow is not in doubt; however, there is no possible basis of legitimacy for such wealth, as can only be plainly apparent to all his hosts.
The people of Sarawak are struggling to rid themselves of this man and his parasitical family and to preserve their unique environmental heritage from his further business ventures.
Please lend your support to their struggle and to the campaign to preserve what is left of the Book of Life and the Borneo Jungles natural wealth. Defend the rights of the indigenous tribes that rely on the rainforest for their livelihoods. Demand that Taib explain the source of money that has enabled him to purchase multi-million pound properties in Canada, US and the UK.
Be there to receive him and protest at the disgraceful invitation that has been extended to him by Oxford University and the Said Business School.
The writer is from Survival International