Saturday, February 26, 2011

Anti-Taib campaign kicks off in UK on Monday

The NGO Bruno Manser Fund (BMF) is gearing up for their 'Stop Timber Corruption' demonstrations on Monday Feb 28, to highlight the alleged abuses of the long-serving Sarawak CM, in particular what it calls “one of the worst environmental crimes of the past decades”.

“During Mr Mahmud's 30 years in power much of the Borneo Rainforest has been destroyed,” said the group in an advisory today.

“As part of an international week of protests, campaigners are bringing to light the human and environmental cost of the deforestation program which has taken place under Mr Mahmud.”

The UK protest will take place outside the London headquarters of Ridgeford Properties Ltd (right), the property company associated with Taib, at 9.30am GMT.

Meanwhile a similar protest will be staged in Ottawa, Canada outside Sakto Corporation on the same day at 12pm Eastern Time.

Joining the protests will be Clare Rewcastle Brown, founder of whistleblower website Sarawak Report and sister-in-law to former British prime minister Gordon Brown, and exiled Sarawak indigenous leader Mutang Urud.

Road to riches

Sarawak Report has, meanwhile, trained its guns on the RM18 million Taman Tunku-Taman Jelita Road project in Miri awarded to a company of which Taib's sister Raziah Mahmud is managing director.

miri-taib-groundgreakingBorneo Post reported last year that developer and landowner Kumpulan Parabena Sdn Bhd will build the access road fringing Miri airport's runway.

The groundbreaking ceremony at the end of last year was officiated by Taib himself (left), during which he reportedly tossed out food parcels and RM50.

“Sarawakians must reject politicians who perpetrate 'anti-rich people' sentiments as this will only deter the state's quest for greater progress,” the website claims Taib to have said.

The website says the question is “how the sister of the chief minister is in charge of a company received this chunk of state land and a state funded contract of this nature without a major issue arising over conflict of interest”, claiming this to be proof of corruption.

It adds that the actual construction has been subcontracted to “crony” Hii King Chiong's company Rich Venture Construction Sdn Bhd.

It also notes Borneo Post reporting that “Parabena is also mulling the proposal for a university campus, polyclinic and other infrastructures in this strategic location”, on land that Raziah allegedly received for “free”.

Money for nothing

According to the website, “Soon after he took power Taib (as minister for resources and planning) handed an original 800 acres of this prime land (surrounding Miri airport) to his own family company Concordance Holdings in November 1982.”

miri access roadConcordance subsequently transferred the property along with “a total of 2,000 acres of prime development land” to its subsidiary Parabena.

Allegedly the handout was justified that it “supported a bumiputera company, in order to develop local skills” but notes how it has been sold off for pure profit.

The land has seen extensive development that it says has “reaped millions in profits for Raziah Mahmud” and that it was a new phase of development that raised the need for an access road, hence the government-financed Taman Tunku-Taman Jelita Road access road.

Sarawak Report
's expose goes on to trace Prabena's ownership all the way up to the CM himself, through the latter's personal shares in Mesti Bersatu Sdn Bhd, that it says makes Taib one of the key shareholders in Prabena.

Mesti Bersatu holds shares in Miri Properties, one of Parabena's stakeholders.

Mesti Bersatu is also a major stakeholder in the Royal Mulu Resort that the whistleblower says was formerly NCR land, it says, by Taib's powers as chief minister and finance Minister.

Historic Miri sold off

The Sarawak Report article goes on to list other incidences of land grab in Miri, for example a seaside prime location that Taib allegedly handed to Majupun Sdn Bhd, “another family company”.

Marriot MiriThe site in Taman Selara, an historic and scenic place that eventually made way for the Marriot hotel (left, marked in red), also absorbed a public car park plot under the local council, that it says Raziah, as project director, has yet to pay the council for.

The CM's sister, along with her Australian-Lebanese husband and Taib's daughter Hanifah are directors of Majupun.

Taib himself, it says, is a substantial shareholder through Mesti Bersatu, Miri Properties and Kumpulan Parabena.

The CM has also allegedly cashed in part of Taman Selara for RM12 million in a sale to crony company Shin Yan, that Sarawak Report laments, will construct high rise condominiums on “what was once Miri's most attractive part of town and a public parkland”.

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