Monday, February 28, 2011

Pictures from the 'Stop Timber Corruption' demonstration in London
















The UK protest took place outside the London headquarters of Ridgeford Properties Ltd, the property company associated with Taib, at 9.30am GMT today.

Read Anti-Taib campaign kicks off in UK on Monday.


Details of planned Taib street campaigns in the United States:

Seattle: Thursday, 3 March 2011, 12:00 p.m. outside the FBI Northwestern Regional Headquarters at 1110
3rd Avenue (corner Spring St)

San Francisco: Wednesday, 9 March 2011, 10:00 a.m. outside Citibank at 260 California Street

Phone contact for the United States:

Brihannala Morgan, The Borneo Project, Berkeley, California Tel. +1 415 341 7051
www.borneoproject.org

International campaign coordination: Bruno Manser Fund, Basel, Switzerland +41 61 261 94 74
www.stop-timber-corruption.org, timber-corruption@bmf.ch

Sources used for this release: www.sarawakreport.org; research by the Bruno Manser Fund.

Follow our campaign on twitter: http://www.twitter.com/bmfonds

KENYATAAN AKHBAR UNTUK DIEDARKAN SERTA MERTA.

Oleh Baru Bian.

Pada hari Sabtu 26 Februari yang lalu, Pengerusi Pimpinan Negeri PKR Baru Bian mencabar Ketua Menteri Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud untuk berdebat mengenai isu NCR yang telah dikatakan “isu lapuk” oleh Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hassan, Menteri Kedua Perancangan dan Pengurusan Sumber dan Menteri Kemudahan Awam.

Pada hari Isnin, 28 Februari, Ketua Menteri, seperti yang dilaporkan oleh akhbar Borneo Post, telah bersetuju untuk menyahut cabaran itu tetapi dengan syarat bukti-bukti perlu dikemukakan terlebih dahulu.

“Kami mengucapkan terima kasih kepada Ketua Menteri kerana menyahut cabaran kami untuk berdebat. Kami berharap kebenaran akan diketahui oleh umum menerusi debat seperti itu nanti,” kata Bian.

“Mengenai permintaan Ketua Menteri akan bukti-bukti, kami ingin memberitahu beliau bahawa segala-galanya sudah kami sediakan. Bukti-bukti itu tidak akan kami kemukakan sekarang kerana ianya akan menghambarkan tujuan sebenar berdebat. Namun, kami ingin menarik perhatiannya bahawa bukti-bukti yang amat banyak yang telah kami kemukakan ke mahkamah untuk lebih 200 kes NCR yang belum lagi didengar yang mana Attorney-General juga menyedarinya. Kami juga akan mengemukakan bukti-bukti tambahan kepada bukti-bukti yang ada di mahkamah, ke debat untuk menyokong kes kaum asli yang kehilangan tanah-tanah NCR mereka, dan isu ini bukanlah isu lapuk,” kata Bian.

“Kami berharap Ketua Menteri tidak akan berpura-pura jahil akan bukti-bukti itu sebagai alasan untuk mengelakkan debat itu,” kata Bian.

“Dengan kesanggupan Ketua Menteri untuk berdebat, kami ingin mencadangkan beberapa tarikh padanya: Sabtu 5 Mac, Ahad 6 Mac atau Khamis 10 Mac. Masa dan tempat adalah pilihan beliau. Ketua Menteri, sila pilih satu tarikh,” kata Bian.

“Kami juga ingin mencadangkan para akademik Sains Sosial UNIMAS yang begitu arif dan faham akan isu-isu NCR untuk mempengerusikan debat itu nanti. Kami seterusnya mencadangkan agar debat itu diadakan di tempat awam yang luas seperti Borneo Convention Center Kuching atau di Stadium Perpaduan di Petrajaya bagi memudahkan orang awam datang dan mendengar pandangan dan pendapat Ketua Menteri dan saya sendiri,” kata Bian.

Ketua Menteri juga dipetik sebagai berkata “Kita akan akur dengan sebarang keputusan mahkamah walaupun tidak memihak kepada kerajaan” semasa menghadiri Perhimpunan Agung Tahunan SPDP pada hari Ahad 27 Februari di Bintulu sebagaimana dilaporkan dalam portal Sarawak Update (Jumpa saya Atau ke Mahkamah).

“Sahutan kami adalah terang dan jelas: tarik balik semua rayuan semula Kerajaan ke atas kes-kes NCR yang telah dimenangi oleh orang-orang asal. Keputusan-keputusan mahkamah telah memihak kepada orang-orang asli itu, tetapi kerajaan tetap berdegil merayu untuk menentang kes-kes itu. Adakah Ketua Menteri akan mengarahkan Attorney-General untuk menarik balik semua rayuan itu serta-merta dan berpegang kepada kata-katanya itu, atau adakah kenyataannya sempena Perhimpunan Agung Tahunan SPDP itu bersifat retorik semata-mata untuk mengelirukan rakyat lagi?” tanya Bian.

Taib gives conditional nod for debate with Baru Bian

Stephen Tiong

Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud said he will only accept Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian's challenge to a public debate if there is a strong evidence that the state government has grabbed native customary rights (NCR) lands from the owners.

“He will have to submit the proof first before I can accept the challenge on the debate with the NCR land as the topic.

azlan“At this moment, his allegations are without proof unless he can come up with one. Or is he only trying to argue for the sake of argument?” Taib told reporters after the opening of the Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party's (SPDP) eighth annual general assembly in Bintulu yesterday.

Replying to Taib's conditional acceptance of the debate, Bian said: “We thank the Chief Minister for accepting our challenge to debate.

“We hope the truth will finally be made known to the public through such a debate,” said Bian today.

“As for his request for proof and evidence, we would like to inform him that our evidence is ready, but it evidence cannot be revealed now or else there would not be a need for a debate.

“However, we are happy to draw his attention to the overwhelming mountain of evidence already submitted in court for over 200 NCR cases still pending to date which the state attorney-general is fully aware of.

“We will also be bringing additional supplementary evidence on top of the evidence already submitted in court to the debate to further support our case about natives' loss of NCR lands and that this is not an old issue,” said Bian.

“We hope he is not pretending to be ignorant of the evidence as an excuse to avoid or evade the debate,” he said.

'Up to Taib to determine time and venue'


“Since he has accepted our challenge, we propose that the debate be held either on March 5 or 6 or 10,” he said, adding that it is up to Taib to determine the time and venue of the debate.

“We suggest that Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) Social Science academics who are informed on NCR issues be appointed to chair the debate.

NONE“We further suggest it would be appropriate to have the public debate in a large venue like the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching or the Stadium Perpaduan at Petrajaya so that the public can have free access to listen to the views to be expressed by the chief minister and myself,” said Bian (right).

On Taib's statement that the state government accepts the decisions of the court on the NCR land cases, even if it did not favour the government, Bian urged the chief minister to withdraw all government appeals against NCR cases won by the natives immediately.

“The court has decided in favour of NCR landowners but the government still insists on appealing against these cases.

“Will the chief minister direct the state attorney-general to withdraw these appeals immediately and keep his word or was his statement at the SPDP annual general meeting a mere rhetoric and lip service to deceive the people yet again?” asked Bian.

Bian had last Saturday extended an open invitation to Taib to a public debate on NCR lands.

He gave Taib two weeks to reply, failing which he will write officially, through his legal firm, to extend the invitation.

Bian had stated that if Taib had no time, then he should delegate his senior ministers having a deep understanding of the NCR land.

The debate should be on whether the state government has been grabbing the NCR lands and whether the NCR land is an old issue.

He said he was fed-up with Taib and his ministers, especially Second Minister of Planning and Resource Management Awang Tengah Ali Hasan, for harping that the NCR land was an old issue just to counter the claims by the opposition and civil societies groups that the chief minister and state government have been grabbing NCR lands from the natives.

“To me, the NCR land issue is crucial, on-going and current. It is certainly not an old issue as claimed by Awang Tengah and Taib,” Bian said.


Taken from Malaysiakini

Baru Bian says he is ready to debate with Taib


KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 28 — Sarawak PKR chairman Baru Bian (pic) said today he was prepared to present evidence of Native Customary Rights (NCR) land grabs by the state government during a public debate.

Bian said he thanked the Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud for his willingness to accept the debate challenge and asked for it to be held as early as next week.

“As for the Chief Minister’s request for proof and evidence, we would like to inform him that our evidence is ready. The evidence cannot be revealed now or else there would not be a need for a debate,” said Bian in a statement.

“However, we are happy to draw his attention to the overwhelming mountain of evidence already submitted in court for over 200 NCR cases still pending to date which the Attorney-General is fully aware of.

“We will also be bringing additional supplementary evidence on top of the evidence already submitted in court to the debate to further support our case about natives’ loss of NCR lands and that this is not an old issue,” he added.

Bian had originally issued the challenge last Saturday for a debate with the government on NCR land seizure allegations.

Taib who has been in power for 30 years, however, said yesterday that he was only willing to debate if Bian could offer evidence of the land grabs.

His willingness to debate on NCR land comes just five months before government’s mandate expires.

“We hope the Chief Minister is not pretending to be ignorant of the evidence as an excuse to avoid or evade the debate,” said Bian.

He also repeated the party’s stand for the state government to withdraw all its cases against the natives over the NCR land grab.

“Our response is loud and clear; withdraw all government appeals against NCR cases won by the natives immediately,” said Bian.

“The courts have decided in favour of NCR landowners but the government still insists on appealing against these cases,” he added.

A lawyer by profession, Bian has been representing Sarawak natives in their attempt to stop the state government from acquiring their NCR land.

In September last year, the Kuching High Court ruled in favour of residents in seven longhouses in rural Sarawak who were about to be evicted from their land to accommodate the government’s plans to declare some 27,500 hectares of land in Ulu Sebuyau as a national park.

Early this month, the Court of Appeal ruled against a timber company, the Forestry Department and the Sarawak government for encroaching into land classified as the Penans’ NCR.

The NCR was enshrined in the Sarawak Land Code 1958, which recognises the natives’ collective ownership of land around their settlements for agriculture and hunting purposes.


From The Malaysian Insider

PRESS STATEMENT FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Issued by: Baru Bian, PKR State Liaison Chief, Sarawak
Date: Monday, 28 February, 2011

____________________________________________________________________

On Saturday, 26th February, PKR Chief Baru Bian issued a challenge to the Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud for a public debate on the NCR issue which had been claimed by Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hassan, Second Minister of Planning and Resource Management and Minister of Public Utilities, as being “an old issue.”

On Monday, 28th February, the Chief Minister, as reported in the Borneo Post, accepted the challenge but imposed the condition that evidence be submitted.

“We thank the Chief Minister for accepting our challenge to debate. We hope the truth will finally be made known to the public through such a debate,” said Bian.

“As for the Chief Minister’s request for proof and evidence, we would like to inform him that our evidence is ready. The evidence cannot be revealed now or else there would not be a need for a debate. However, we are happy to draw his attention to the over-whelming mountain of evidence already submitted in court for over 200 NCR cases still pending to-date which the Attorney-General is fully aware of. We will also be bringing additional supplementary evidence on top of the evidence already submitted in court to the debate to further support our case about natives’ loss of NCR lands and that this is not an old issue,” said Bian.

“We hope the Chief Minister is not pretending to be ignorant of the evidence as an excuse to avoid or evade the debate,” said Bian.

“Since the Chief Minister has accepted our challenge, we propose the following dates: Saturday 5th March, Sunday 6th March or Thursday 10th March. Time and place to be determined by him. Chief Minister, please choose one,” said Bian.

“We suggest that UNIMAS’ Social Science academics who are informed of NCR issues be appointed to chair the debate. We further suggest it would be appropriate to have the public debate in a large venue like the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching or the Stadium Perpaduan at Petrajaya so that the public can have free access to listen to the views to be expressed by the Chief Minister and myself,” said Bian.

The Chief Minister is also quoted as saying that “Kita akan akur dengan sebarang keputusan mahkamah walaupun tidak memihak kepada kerajaan” (we will concur with any court decision even if it does not favour the government) at the SPDP AGM on Sunday 27th February in Bintulu as reported at online news portal Sarawak Update (Jumpa Saya Atau Ke Mahkamah).

“Our response is loud and clear; withdraw all Government appeals against NCR cases won by the natives immediately. The courts have decided in favour of NCR landowners but the government still insists on appealing against these cases. Will the Chief Minister direct the Attorney-General to withdraw these appeals immediately and keep his word or was the statement at the SPDP AGM mere rhetoric and lip service to deceive the rakyat yet again?” asked Bian.

Taib to Bian: ‘Show proof’

FMT Staff | February 28, 2011

Sarawak Chief Minister takes up PKR's invitation to an open debate on allegations of abuse over native customary right (NCR) land.


BINTULU: Faced with wide-ranging allegations of administrative abuse and covert conversions of native customary right (NCR) land into state land, embattled Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud has accepted a dare by the opposition to an open debate on the issue.

Taib said he accepted the challenge but Sarawak PKR must show solid proof to back its allegations of land grabs by the state government.

“That allegation is without foundation and intentionally inflicted. He (Baru Bian) just wants to argue and if he wants, he has to prove it (allegation is true),” he said.

State PKR chief Baru Bian had on Saturday invited Taib to an open public debate to clear the ‘confusion’ over the NCR land and claims that the natives were being robbed of their land.

Taib said the state government had ‘never’ seized land titles and dared Bian to provide proof of their claims.

He cited a case in Miri where Rumah Chang longhouse residents were given back their land in the early 1980s after he found a letter containing their claims.

“If I had any bad intention then when I found the letter at the Miri Land and Survey office, I would have hidden it.

“But I found a written evidence showing that the land is owned by Rh Chang. Rh Chang is still there,” he told newsmen yesterday.

Taib was responding to Bian’s challenge to him to debate on NCR land issue. Bian’s was himself responding to Second Minister of Planning and Resource Management Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan’s statement last Friday that “the opposition always harps on NCR land issues” which he said was an “old issue”.

Awang Tengah was also quoted as saying the government had never robbed landowners of land.

Bian had reportedly said that ‘NCR land issue is crucial to them (natives), and they want to know the true stand of the state government.’

Bian had given Taib two weeks to revert to his challenge failing which he said, PKR will write officially to Taib through a legal firm.

Bian invites Taib to open debate

Joseph Tawie | February 27, 2011

The Sarawak government's recent comment that there are only 1.5 million hectares of NCR land has confused natives, says state PKR chief Baru Bian.


KUCHING: Chief Minister Taib Mahmud has been challenged to an open debate to clear the confusion over the native customary rights (NCR) land and allegations that the state government is “robbing” natives of their lands.

Sarawak PKR chairman Baru Bian, in issuing the challenge, said: “This NCR land issue is crucial to them (natives), and they want to know the true stand of the state government.

“We are giving the chief minister two weeks to reply to our challenge; if there is no reply, we will write officially to him through my legal firm.

“If he cannot come, then he can send one of his ministers to debate with me.” Bian, who is also an NCR land lawyer, was responding to statements made by Awang Tengah Ali Hassan, Second Planning and Resource Management Minister who said that NCR land was “an old issue.”
Awang had also said that the state government did not “rob” NCR land from the natives.

“These two issues have been harped upon by Sarawak ministers on behalf of the chief minister. Therefore I would like to throw a challenge for an open debate with the chief minister on these two statements.

“I would prefer the chief minister or Awang Tengah or James Masing (State Land Development Minister) to debate with me. I do not want other ministers like (Deputy Chief Minister) George Chan and (Deputy Chief Minister) Alfred Jabu anak Numpang because they do not know much about NCR land,” he said.

Bian also suggested that academicians from a local university, especially those who have experience in lecturing and writing about NCR land should be invited to sit as panel members.

He said the people from villages and longhouses should be invited to witness the debate and that it should be recorded and televised.

Confused people

Meanwhile, a recent statement by the director of Land and Survey Department, Sudarsono Osman, that there are about 1.5 million hectares of NCR land in Sarawak has caught Bian’s attention.

Bian asked Sudarsono how he came to determine the size of NCR land. “Is this definition in accordance with the government’s understanding which is confined to temuda land (farm land) created before Jan 1, 1958?

“Or is this definition based on the legal decision that came out from the High Court, the Court of Appeal and the Federal Court?

“In the landmark case of Nor Anak Nyawai confirmed by Madeli bin Salleh’s case in the Federal Court, the NCR land includes temuda land, ‘pemakai menua’ (communal land) and ‘pulau galau’ (reserved forest land).

“What they (government) are recognising and surveying is temuda land created before Jan 1, 1958, but what about the bigger portion of NCR land called ‘pemakai menua’ and the ‘pulau galau’ that have been preserved with the adat (customs) of the natives?

“That is the main contention,” said Bian, who estimated the size of NCR land to be at least three times bigger than the 1.5 million hectares declared by the government, if they go along with the court decision that NCR land includes temuda, pemakai menua and pulau galau.

He accused the government of deliberately confusing the people.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

PKR chief dares Taib to NCR land debate

Stephen Tiong

Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian has challenged billionaire Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud to a public debate on the native customary rights (NCR) land.

"I am extending an open invitation to him to debate against me on the NCR land issue," Baru said at a press conference in Kuching today.

"He has two weeks to reply, but if he does not agree to the open invitation, then I will send him an official letter, through my legal office, to invite him to face me," said the NCR land law expert.

"If Taib has no time, then he should delegate his senior ministers who have a deep understanding of NCR land.

NONEBaru (right) said the debate should be on whether the State Goverment has been grabbing the NCR lands and whether the NCR land is an old issue.

He said he is fed-up with Taib and his ministers, especially Awang Tengah , for harping that the NCR land is an old issue just to counter the claims by the Opposition and civil societies groups that the chief minister and state government have been grabbing NCR land from the natives.

"To me, the NCR land issue is crucial, on-goings and current. It is certainly not an old issue as claimed by Awang Tengah and Taib," he said.

Confusion confounded over land size

Baru also wants the Lands and Surveys director Sudarsono Osman to explain what does he mean by saying that NCR land spread over about 1.5million hectares in Sarawak.

"This is the question that we want Sudarsono to answer," he said in response to a statement by Sudarsono that the State government will complete a perimeter survey on 380,000h of NCR land by 2015.

Does he mean that the NCR lands are confined to Tanah Temuda (lands that have been established prior to Jan 1, 1958) alone and that is how he comes to conclusion that there are about 1.5 million hectares of NCR lands?" Baru asked.

He also asked Sudarsono whether his understanding and knowledge on NCR lands is based on legal decisions of the Federal Court, the Court of Appeal or the High Court.

"He should study the Federal Court's decisions in respective of the Nor anak Nyawai & three others versus Borneo Pulp and Paper & two others as well as the Miri Superintendent of Lands and Surveys and another versus Madeli Salleh," he said.

Baru said based on these two decisions by the apex court, NCR lands include Pemakai Menoa (communal area land) and Pulau Galau (communal forest).

Govt facing a pile of land cases

"This means that the size of NCR land, as far as I know, is three times bigger than the 1.5 million hectares mentioned by Sudarsono," he said.

He said Sudarsono's statement is confusing and misleading where the definition of the NCR land is concerned.

He said the large chunks of NCR land come from Pemakai Menoa and Pulau Galau.

NONEHe said his firm alone is handling about 150 cases filed by the landowners against the government for encroaching into their property.

"This is not to mention the cases filed through other legal firms," he added.

"The total of pending and active cases may well surpass 200 cases," he said.

The most celebrated case is the Nor anak Nyawai and three others vs Borneo Pulp and Paper and two others, in which Baru appeared for the plaintiffs.

This case has become the reference case for decisions made by the court on NCR land cases.

Baru said he is concerned with the government's definition of the NCR land as it is only confined to the Tanah Temuda.

On the debate, he said Baru he will propose that it tbe mediated by neutral persons or academicians as panel members and be picked from the local universities and who have been a deep knowledge and understanding of the NCR land.

Baru added he will invite rural people, especially the NCR landowners to attend, and that they will become the judge.

He said the local television stations and the local media should be invited to provide a wide coverage for the consumption of the local audience and the international community.


Taken from Malaysiakini.

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”.

Sarawak BN may fall like Berlin Wall, says British anti-Taib crusader

By Shannon Teoh

February 26, 2011
Clare Rewcastle Brown operates Radio Free Sarawak and the Sarawak Report from London. — thisislondon.co.uk pic
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 26 — Barisan Nasional (BN) has held on to power in Sarawak through intimidation, but could still fall just like the Iron Curtain and Berlin Wall, said the sister-in-law of former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown who has turned into an internet and radio crusader against Tan Sri Taib Mahmud’s administration.

Clare Rewcastle Brown, who operates radio station Radio Free Sarawak and blog Sarawak Report from Covent Garden in London, told The Malaysian Insider that “every person I have spoken to is scared of the fact that the BN government will know how they vote.”

But she said that even though voters “face naked threats that BN will withdraw vital services from longhouses that vote against them,” the tide of opinion can subtly change and “wash away the foundations of power without anybody quite realising.”

“The collapse of the Iron Curtain and Berlin Wall took the world by surprise and almost happened overnight,” she said, recalling her experience as a reporter with Sky TV when the wall fell in 1989.

“I remember the shock of it all, as the grip of communist power had seemed so immovable for so long,” said the 51-year-old investigative journalist who began her career with the BBC World Service in 1983.

The Berlin Wall was the physical manifestation of the Iron Curtain, a symbolic partition between the communist and democratic halves of Europe until it fell in 1989, marking the end of the Cold War era and then erosion of communism globally.

Rewcastle-Brown made the comparison between the Iron Curtain and Sarawak in an interview with The Malaysian Insider today.

In the interview, she said that Radio Free Sarawak, which broadcasts to the state over short wave, a long range band of frequencies, has fed what “seems to be such a hunger for news in the jungles of Sarawak ... that they seem to be back tuning in to these old fashioned radios.”

The two media that she publicly took responsibility for on Wednesday, have repeatedly accused Abdul Taib and his administration of corruption and illegitimate political practices.

However, these allegations have also been made by others before and have not prevented the 74-year-old chief minister from holding power for 30 years.

Rewcastle Brown, who was born and raised in Sarawak until the age of eight, added that the opposition parties in the state have also realised that they need to unite and “are now putting normal political bickering and personal ambitions aside.”

Although Pakatan Rakyat (PR) parties had ensured straight fights across the peninsular in the 2008 general election, Sarawak saw 15 state seats that were contested by more than two candidates in the 2006 state polls.

However, with state polls expected in April and the assembly’s mandate expiring in July, DAP, PKR, PAS and also the Sarawak Nasional Party (SNAP) have begun negotiations over seat allocations in a bid to ensure one-on-one battles with BN.


I’m doing it for the people and the jungle, says British anti-Taib reporter

February 26, 2011

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 26 — Radio Free Sarawak and the Sarawak Report have been critical of Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud’s state government but there is no political agenda except to save the tribal people and the “priceless” forests of the state, their founder said today.

Clare Rewcastle Brown responded today to accusations of a malicious agenda to bring down the Barisan Nasional (BN) government there, insisting that “we are not motivated by malice, only by concern for the people of Sarawak and the priceless Borneo jungle that has been destroyed by the greed of just a few people.”

The sister-in-law of former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who was born in Sarawak where she lived until age eight, said that she has promised many native people that she will do her best to highlight their plight.

“The Borneo Rainforest is one of the most rare and precious areas of our planet and it would be a worthwhile use of my time to do what I can to join the struggle to save it for our future,” she said in an interview with The Malaysian Insider.

After publicly taking responsibility for the two media on Wednesday, she was accused by Sarawak BN backbenchers chief Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah of being “malicious and dangerous.”

“They have campaigned not only against the Chief Minister but also the nation ... inciting one race to go against another,” Abdul Taib’s political secretary was reported to have said.

But Rewcastle Brown, who operates the radio station and blog out of a flat in Covent Garden, London, said that her financiers and herself “think it is worth doing something to try and help those who are oppressed and to keep our planet beautiful for future generations.”

“This all may be hard to understand for people who are focused only on making money for themselves,” she said of Abdul Karim, adding that his threat of bringing them to book only showed that BN was worried.

“If Abdul Karim thinks we are dangerous, then he means he thinks we are dangerous to the continuing domination of his BN government over Sarawak and we thank him for letting us know he is so worried,” she said.

The 51-year-old journalist, who first worked for the BBC World Service in 1983, added that there are many others who also care about the rainforests and the rights of tribal people and it has resulted in a “wonderful wave of new donations via my website” for her campaign.

Rewcastle Brown has been highly critical of Abdul Taib, accusing him of widespread corruption and illegitimate political practices.

However, others have also made these allegations before but the 74-year-old chief minister has remained in power for 30 years.

He must call a state election by July this year and is widely expected to dissolve the state assembly by April.



S'wak Report founder: Not my job to oust Taib



A British journalist who runs an website and online radio critical of Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Abdul Mahmud says that her task is not to oust the long-time leader.

NONE“I do not see it as my job to bring down Taib. That is for the Sarawakian people to decide,” said Clare Rewcastle Brown in an email interview with Malaysiakini.

Rewcastle Brown runs the fiercely anti-Taib website Sarawak Report which has exposed the chief minister's alleged global business empire and corrupt activities.

She is also responsible for underground radio station Radio Free Sarawak, which began broadcasting in November last year on shortwave.

“I just want to make sure that they receive all the information about what has been happening to their resources and to their wealth, so that they can make an informed choice,” said Rewcastle Brown, who is sister-in-law of former British prime minister Gordon Brown.

'Evidence easily available'

She argues that she is providing a "vital service from a safe distance" because Sarawakians right to a free press was being denied by the use of the Internal Security Act (ISA) and abuse of power.

NONE"It is up to Sarawakians how they wish to spread the news (we provide),” she said.

The former BBC journalist, who began her career in 1983, also adds that her work relies only on material that can be proven and she would readily hand over evidence to the Malaysian authorities.

“Most of it, as we have demonstrated, is a matter of public record. This is why it has been difficult to disprove. We have heard nothing back from Taib Mahmud, despite several invitations to reply to our accusations.

“We would be only too delighted to hand over all this evidence to the Malaysian police and Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission should they show the slightest interest. Most of it they could have accessed themselves anyway without much trouble,” she said.

The brains behind Sarawak Report and Radio Free Sarawak were revealed on Wednesday. They decided to go public following several death threats.

Excerpts of the email interview, edited for clarity, follows:

Malaysiakini: In the London Evening Standard report, you mentioned that Sawarak Report had received death threats. Tell us more. Were they from Taib's men? Do you take this seriously? Have you reported this to the authorities?

Rewcastle Brown: We have received unpleasant emails, but they were anonymous so we are making no accusations about who sent them. However, this was one reason why we decided to come out into the open.

We have lodged a report to the UK police, who are monitoring the situation. We think our safety is less threatened in the UK that it would be if we went to Malaysia.

Sarawak Report has been reporting Taib's alleged corrupt activities and his alleged global business empire. Do you have hard evidence and witnesses to back your claims? Are you prepared to hand them to Malaysian or international authorities?

We have only published what we can prove and we have laid out our sources and evidence in Sarawak Report. Most of it, as we have demonstrated, is a matter of public record. This is why it has been difficult to disprove.

We have heard nothing back from Taib Mahmud, despite several invitations to reply to our accusations. We would be only too delighted to hand over all this evidence to the Malaysian police and Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) should they show the slightest interest.

Most of it they could have accessed themselves anyway without much trouble!

Are you prepared if Taib and his alleged business associates take legal action against you?

Yes.

It would seem you are building up momentum to oust Taib. But then again, most in Sarawak has no access to the Internet. Have you found ways to help spread your reports in Sarawak?

I do not see it as my job to bring down Taib. That is for the Sarawakian people to decide about. I just want to make sure that they receive all the information about what has been happening to their resources and to their wealth, so that they can make an informed choice.

azlanThis is their right and BN have corruptly denied them that right by suppressing the freedom of the media and persecuting people who speak out or hold the government to account.

Because of the abuse of the ISA law and the abuse of power generally, no journalist or opposition person who speaks out about the corruption in Sarawak is safe from persecution.

It is for this reason that I am providing this one vital service from the safety of a distant country, where the role of objective journalism is still respected and protected. It is up to Sarawakians how they wish to spread the news.

Your critics have dubbed your work as blatant Western meddling in Asian countries. They accuse you of being funded by “foreign agents” with vested interests. How do you respond to this?

Well they have to say something! BN has spent millions of ringgit hiring New York, Maddison Avenue PR (public relations) people to plug their own message in the Malaysian media, so why are they so upset by my shoestring, voluntary operation to redress some of that balance?

My agenda is the agenda of the people of Sarawak, whose jungle and resources have been greedily taken leaving them destitute. So many of the people I have met there have asked me for whatever help I can give them in exposing their terrible problems and now they are warmly thanking me.

This is my agenda and I will stop the moment people from Sarawak no longer want or need my help.

You left Sarawak for the UK when you were eight years old. Have you tried to go back? If yes, did you face any problems?

Yes, I have come back a number of times in recent years, which is how I came to learn of the terrible things that have happened to Sarawak's people and environment.

NONEI was appalled at the dismissive view of the chief minister towards his people when I asked him at a press conference in 2005 whether he thought the interior tribes had anything of value to offer to the rest of the world.

His reply? "Ha ha, yes, we have put all that stuff into a museum somewhere!"

I realised that this arrogant and ignorant attitude was behind nearly all of the problems facing the poor people of Sarawak today. On recent visits to Malaysia, it has been made clear that I am no longer welcome for being outspoken on these issues.

Officials have informed me I am on a 'blacklist' and will be watched whenever I enter the country. I am now always held up at immigration and my mobile phone is then always blocked.



Taken from Malaysiakini.

Taib will not last forever

Mariam Mokhtar, Malaysia Chronicle

Interview with Clare Rewcastle Brown Part1: Taib will not last forever

When Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud first heard of an anonymous blog that attacked him and his family for alleged corruption, he laughed and brushed it aside like he would a pesky fly.

But the blog didn’t go away, and soon it sprouted a radio unit to reach more people in interior of the state where broadband is still a dream invention of the West.

And on Monday, Taib’s headache is bound to grow worse. Defenders of Sarawak’s indigenous communities and the Borneo rainforest have announced street protests in the United Kingdom and Canada against what they call his blatant corruption and deprivation of his people’s humanity.

Yes, the Sarawak Report blog and Radio Free Sarawak have turned out to be much more successful than its editor Clare Rewcastle Brown – the sister-in-law of former Bristish prime minister Gordon Brown – had hoped for.

She is now looking to achieve even greater impact and the quicker the better because state elections are due to be called anytime now. A window of opportunity has finally appeared for the downtrodden in the state. A massive journey still lies ahead but the first step must be paved by political transformation.


“BN have tried to give the impression that Taib, although he is old and highly discredited, will last forever. People need to discuss amongst themselves the fact that this is not true and that change is inevitable, so when and how do they want that to happen?” Clare said in the interview with Malaysia Chronicle.

Call her ambitious but she is fighting for the country of her birth. A British citizen, Clare has not forgotten she was born in Sarawak 51 years ago.

She is now fronting a crusade that many Sarawakians had wanted to begin but could never quite pull together. They and millions of other Malaysians and even people from other countries are now joining the battle for justice she began with her blog.

They have one common goal – to Save Sarawak. To stop the plunder of its natural resources, the pillage of its awesome rain forests, the rape of its unique tribes by loggers emboldened by decades of lax and greedy governanance by Taib and his team.

Far away in the federal capital in Putrajaya, Prime Minister Najib Razak looks on. Maybe he even clucks sympathetically with the Sarawakian people, but for sure, he lifts no finger to try and stop their hurt or heed their screams for help.

Malaysia Chronicle appends below Part One of the exclusive interview with Clare. Part Two will be published on Monday.

Chronicle: How many people in Sarawak, do you think listen to you? Are they mostly in the interior or towns? How effective is RFS in getting the message to the people?

Clare: It is always hard to judge the level of listeners, especially in this situation where we are broadcasting to remote communities, but we think we have many listeners and they are growing in numbers by the day.

Just as importantly we are listening to them.

Our aim is to provide an outlet where their concerns and what they say is treated as being interesting and important.

This isn’t just about what the Government wants to tell them it’s about what they want to tell the Government and others as well. Radio Free Sarawak is one platform where their voices can be heard.

Every day we make big efforts to get in touch with people from longhouses all over Sarawak and the stories they tell us about their land grab issues, their deprivation, their poverty and their lack of medical and other facilities, provide the real picture of what is happening to these previously silenced and suffering communities.

Through our radio show villagers can learn that their problems are not isolated and they share the same concerns and issues with other tribes in areas all over Sarawak.

These problems are largely caused by the corrupt way in which their country has been governed over the past decades.

Chronicle: With your main whistleblower, Boyert dead, is this a massive setback for Sarawak Report? How will you carry on? (Ross Boyert was Taib’s disaffected US aide who died in mysterious circumstances. The inquest into his death is still pending.)

Clare: If you mean in terms of information, no.

Ross gave us some information about some Taib family businesses in America, but the rest of our exposes were begun before we tracked down Ross and we have plenty of other sources of information.

On the other hand Ross was a decent and lovely man, who we came to see as a friend. He left a wife and daughter and on that level it has been a massive shock and a setback for everyone who knew and cared about the Boyerts.

Chronicle: Has anyone refused to be interviewed by Papa Orang Utan and why?


Clare: Of course! Most BN politicians run a mile from Papa Orang Utan, because they are not used to being interviewed by a free press or asked anything but flattering and obedient questions.

When politicians get away with such an easy ride for years and years they start to get slack and corrupt and they do things that they wouldn’t dare to do if they had thought there was a change of it being made public.

This means that a lot of BN politicians are afraid of being asked embarrassing questions about things they shouldn’t have done!4.How seriously have you damaged Taib? How well do you think Baru Bian will do?

All I have set out to do is to give people in Sarawak the information upon which they can make their own decisions. That is their democratic right and BN have attempted to deny them that right by controlling all the media. So if I have presented facts which have damaged Taib, then it is Taib who has damaged himself.

I think that Baru Bian and Wong Ho Leng are both excellent leaders of the opposition coalition and have strong track records as honest and capable men. If there was a free and fair election I think they would do extremely well.

Chronicle: Have you had any trouble with the British authorities because of RFS? Now that you have revealed yourselves, do you envisage any trouble from the authorities? OR will they be pushed to act by Taib?

Clare: I have not broken any law in the UK and envisage no problems whatsoever from the authorities here.

Thankfully we are a free and open society, where the press is allowed to flourish and to question and criticise politicians.

We know from experience that this makes our society stronger and it is the best check on political corruption.

It also makes each individual in our society safer and more valued by those politicians who need their votes.

It breaks my heart to see how people in Sarawak suffer from not being allowed these basic rights and freedoms of expression, even though they are written into their constitution and laws.

Chronicle: How long more are SR and RFS going to operate? Only till Taib goes or much longer?

Clare: If Taib goes and Sarawak gets an open government, then I think we will probably cave in the face of competition! There will be so many other newspapers and radio stations opening up to interest, entertain and inform the people.

Chronicle: What happens to Papa Orang Utan? Does this mean he will never see his family again? If Taib loses in the elections all is well, but if he does not?

Clare: Maybe this is a question you should put to Taib?

Of course Taib should not abuse his powers or do anything to threaten or harm people who legitimately question his actions or indeed criticise him.

Politicians should expect criticism, but I suspect that Taib fears that he cannot withstand it.

Chronicle: What next for RFS now that you have ‘revealed’ yourselves ahead of the upcoming Sarawak elections? Expand, or stay the same?

Clare: This is a question we ask ourselves as well. Don’t forget we are all volunteers…. anyone else out there who is willing to give up their time for no money?

Chronicle: You are now probably persona non-grata in Sarawak but the information on Taib and his companies will still reach you, via various sources. How else do you want the Sarawakian to help themselves and each other, and spread the message?

Clare: If I have managed to provoke a debate in Sarawak, then I will be very pleased. In the end people need to realise and accept that things never remain the same and that change will come.

BN have tried to give the impression that Taib, although he is old and highly discredited, will last forever. People need to discuss amongst themselves the fact that this is not true and that change is inevitable, so when and how do they want that to happen?

BN seem to have made no preparations for that change and Taib himself has said that no one in the party is capable to succeed him (maybe he deliberately appointed people who could not succeed him!).

People need to face up to the fact they are going to have to decide who can lead them into the future.

Chronicle: Tuai rumah (head of an Iban longhouse) usually tell the longhouse inhabitants how to vote. How are you going to change this voting culture, so that people vote according to their conscience and their own free will?

Clare: We will certainly be giving a platform on Radio Free Sarawak to experts and opposition figures, who will be explaining to people exactly what their rights are when it comes to voting.

We will be reminding voters that while it is not a crime to accept money that is freely given, it is a crime to sell your vote and it is even more of a crime for BN to try and buy your vote!

So if you do take money from BN then you had better vote for the opposition in order to avoid any such misunderstanding!

One-woman army against the White Rajah

'She has made a mockery of Malaysia by pointing out that she had to write her articles in a country where freedom of the press is fully respected.'

S'wak Report founder: Not my job to oust Taib

Ponto: Clare Rewcastle Brown, you're truly a beloved darling for all Malaysians, especially to the down-trodden Sarawakians, whose right to live in dignity in a land of plenty has been flagrantly robbed along with their birthrights by Taib, the elected CM whose sworn duty, as enshrined in the state constitution, is to diligently govern the country and its peoples with unquestionable integrity and responsibility.

Your own dedication and devotion to the cause in seeking justice for those when justice has been unjustifiably denied them, deserve our utmost admiration and praise, particularly under said circumstance when intimidations and threats on your safety and well-being are not unexpected.

It's acknowledged that 'the harder the task, the greater will be the achievement,' and your selfless sacrifices in the face of personal dangers unto yourself and your associates has not escaped the attention of all civic-minded individuals and the many relevant global human rights NGOs.

Satinah Osman: It is people like Clare who make life worth living again. Of course, she must be having excellent connections to write her articles and she has made a mockery of Malaysia by pointing out that she had to write her articles in a country where the freedom of the press and journalists are fully protected and respected.

It is a disgrace to us that she has to be held up at the Immigration and her mobile phone blocked. The Egyptians, Tunisians, Yemenis, Bahrainis, a few Saudis, Jordonians and Libyans are certainly made of sterner stuff than we Malaysians.

Justice Kini: The MACC and the police should read this article. It's like putting food on their plate. Clare Rewcastle Brown had put it point blank that all the reports on Taib has got solid proof. Yet MACC and the police do not lift even their fingers to arrest him and freeze his assets.

Realistic: Some people keep saying that Sarawakians got what they deserve for continuing to vote for BN, but then again, how can you blame the people in the interior when they don't have any information about Taib's wrongdoings?

Every dissenting voices has been effectively curb by the absolute control of the local media by BN and the blatant use of government resources and money politics to "bribe" the rural folks. Wouldn't you be if you are the ones staying in the rural area and not exposed to all the happenings in town?

Taib knows he only need to take care of the rural votes to stay in power. So please help the rural folks find o what's going on in anyway you can in order for them to make an informed decision come the next election.

Tay Kai Beng: Can't blame the Sarawakians, they were blindfolded for years. After knowing the truth, it's their choice if they still vote for him.


Judicial review for MP allocation clears first hurdle

Bernard Phillips: For decades, opposition MP constituencies have been completed ignored by the BN government. It was the norm and accepted by everybody without questions. And all government departments just took away the money allocated for maintenance of roads, communications, etc, as if the people in these constituencies did not pay any taxes.

And for those Umno/BN areas their MPs got more money then they knew what to do. And of course, a lot of the money was unaccounted for. What a shameful behaviour and it was not just the government to be blamed. We, the people, are also to be blamed for doing nothing.

But now we have an MP who truly has the courage and strength to fight for his people, and Dr D Jeyakumar, you make me proud. I have no idea how the case will go. Probably nowhere, but it is enough that the case is brought to court and Malaysians can do something which the judge may not be able to. They can vote this Umno/BN out at the next GE.

Lim Chong Leong: Umno cannot use federal funds like their own and give only to BN constituencies. That is an abuse of funds and contrary to constitutional rights of those in opposition-held areas to vote for whoever they please.

Of course, 1Bolehland has a different set of laws for Umno and BN. And this is at the High Court level. As with all the cases between them and Pakatan Rakyat, they always win in the end in the higher courts.

Righteous: BN only treat those that vote for them like Malaysians. All the rest, regardless of the amount of tax we pay, can go to hell while they spend our tax money on overpriced submarines, ships, and other crony contracts.

How anyone can continue to vote for BN, I do not know. Is Malaysia really so rich that so many can be paid off and we don't go broke? We will be in a bankrupt country soon enough, that much was said to us by a BN man not a Pakatan man.

Ksn: Morally speaking, all MPs should automatically qualify for the annual grant which is to cater for the people of that area. The funds come from taxpayers and Umno should have no legal right to deny the constituents their legitimate rights.

Can the public expect a judgment, fair and in the interests of justice and fair play. Or will it be normal stuff from the judiciary against all established norms? Umno should remember their days to sit on the other side is not far away. Just a reminder.

Parameswara_40fe: The 'trade off' here is - MP Charles Santiago lost his case for declassification of the Syabas/federal government water deal arrangements. The direction of the courts is so predictable - reject one case even though the folks who decided also are paying for that water, and then allow for another case to proceed (Jeyakumar's).

Just watch - Dr Jeya will lose eventually as the script is now being slowly written out to be read as judgment finally, irrespective of all the justifications presented in the courts during actual hearing.

Neders: Najib, 'People First, Performance Now'? Cut out the bullshit. The money is not yours.


RCI's turn at Teoh's mystery note

Cala: I have two comments. First, as we are made to be aware, the late TBH (Teoh Beng Hock) was only a witness to the investigation of suspected irregularities committed by his boss, Ean Yong Hian Hwa.

If my memory serves me right, the amount in question was a paltry RM2,400. Ask yourself; was it logical that a man would go to the extreme to take his own life for it? Second, why were/are there two versions to the "suicide notes"?

Would it not reflect badly on the unprofessionalism on the part of the police? Show me which authority says that every person involving in suicide would leave a note behind. Besides, from my own knowledge of Chinese, the note hardly can be taken as a person about to take his own life.

In sum, I suspect this is a deceptive move aimed to cause confusion in the minds of the public. But their hypothesis is hardly credible given the fact that TBH had a plan to marry a girl of his choice shortly after his forced visit to Selangor MACC.

Abil: To cover one lie, one has to lie multiple times to convince one is telling the truth. MACC is trying to cover up with lies and they have to lie all the way. Ultimately, the truth will come out glaringly, since evil must be defeated one way or other.

Cry for Malaysia: The translation for "zaijian" is "jumpa lagi". So why has the translator chosen to use "selamat tinggal" if it was not the intention to mislead?

Wira: If that is a suicide note, every Chinese who writes letter is committing suicide.


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MCMC can act against Radio Free Sarawak, says Salang

(Bernama) - The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) can act against Radio Free Sarawak if police reports are lodged against it, Deputy Information Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Joseph Salang said today.

He said so far no report had been lodged with the police or the Home Ministry.

“I have heard about its existence. I have also been made to understand it is based in Malacca and not in London as believed.

“If there are reports against it, the MCMC will investigate. If the contents contravene the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, it can block its broadcast,” he told reporters after chairing the agricultural development committee meeting of his Julau parliamentary constituency here.

Salang said the radio station was not licensed with the MCMC and, as such, was an illegal one.

Today, Sarawak Barisan Nasional Backbenchers Club chairman Abdul Karim Hamzah called on the relevant authorities to take action against the station.

He said that in its daily broadcasts, the radio incited Sarawakians to go against the state government in the next state election as well as incited inter-racial hatred.

“It is strange that people would want to do things that are harmful to their own country.

“If anything, people with the right kind of mind will want to improve the situation in their own country and not destroy it,” he said.

Salang said that if the people thought that certain individuals were committing wrong against the country, they should lodge police reports.

Earlier, he said a sum of RM150,000 had been allocated for various agricultural projects in his constituency.

Minister recycling same answers, says PKR

Sarawak PKR has lambasted State Planing and Resource Minister Awang Tengah Ali Hassan for his comments in a local daily.

KUCHING: A Sarawak minister who accused the opposition of harping on the “old issue of NCR land” is himself recycling the same answers for the past decade and treating the people as if they were ignorant of their rights, said Sarawak PKR information chief See Chee How.

Slamming Second State Planning and Resource Management Minister, Awang Tengah Ali Hassan for his remarks, See said: “It is not an old issue.

“In fact, it is cropping up frequently. Every week we have court judgments against the state government, ordering it to give back the native customary rights (NCR) land to the people.

“For Awang Tengah to say that, he is treating the people as if they are living 10 years behind. He is the one who is recycling and saying that the NCR land is not the issue.”

Awang Tengah’s condescending remarks, which had appeared in the local papers recently, had riled several quarters here.

See said that the judgments against the state government are not an old issue and concurred with his party chief Baru Bian that there was an increasing number of NCR cases waiting to be heard in court.

“Every week, there are new cases. But Awang Tengah still uses the same old comment he used 10 years ago that the NCR land is not an issue.

“He is, in fact, recycling his answer,” he said.

Land grabs

On land grabs, See said this too had seen a sudden increase.

“Land grabs are also not new. For the last few months since last year, it appears that the state government has redoubled its efforts to acquire more land.

“We want to find out why and what are the reasons for these (sudden) fierce efforts.

“Is it something to do with the fact that someone is going to leave at this time that you actually have more land grabs?” he asked.

He said that Awang Tengah can deny, as much as he likes, about land grabs but the reality speaks for itself.

“Look at Sempadi, Sebangan and elsewhere where land grabs are obvious.

“They (government) know about native customary rights are on the land, and yet they still grab the land and give them to their family members and cronies,” he added.

He said that the government should allow the natives to develop their own land for their own financial and commercial benefits.

Not for monkeys

On Awang Tengah’s remarks that the government always paid landowners if their land is taken away for public purposes, See asked: “What public purposes are there when the government grabs NCR land for oil palm plantations and leases them to their family members and cronies?

“If the government is sincere, then it should also compensate the landowners.”

Awang Tengah was also reported to have told native landowners not to be taken in by opposition’s claims that the “state government is robbing natives of their land”.

“People must always remember we do not build roads for monkeys and wild boars…

“We are serious in addressing and solving the NCR land matters. Why would the government want to ‘rampas’ (rob) the land?

“We acquire land for public purposes like development, roads and schools. It is for the benefit of the people,” he added.

Concern over rising rate of leasing out NCR lands

Stephen Tiong

Sarawak PKR information chief See Chee How said the opposition parties and human rights groups were concerned at the accelerated rate of leasing out NCR lands to plantation companies since last year.

“We want to find out the reasons for the acceleration of leasing out NCR lands to companies. Has it got to do with somebody who is about to leave politics?” he said when asked to comment on Sarawak Second Minister of Planning and Resource Management Awang Tengah Ali Hasan’s attack on the opposition and rights groups on the NCR land issues. “On the other hand, if you keep on grabbing NCR lands and giving it to crony companies, relatives and friends, what kind of public purpose is that?” he added.

See (top) said the NCR land issues will continue to be raised as long as the government keeps on giving provisional leases covering NCR lands to companies.

“What we are saying is correct that more and more cases will be filed in court as the government continues to issue provisional leases to plantation companies to encroach into the NCR lands.

“As you can see, we have won many cases against the government and plantation companies over the years,” said the NCR land lawyer.

“We are not talking about NCR lands being used for public purposes, but the NCR lands leased out to plantation companies by the government,” he said.

See said the government should allow the natives themselves to develop their land, not lease it out to plantation companies in the name of development.

He also hit out at Awang Tengah for denying that the government has not grabbed NCR lands from the owners and given it to plantation companies.

“Just look at the lands in Sempadi in Lundu district and Sebangan/Sebuyau areas in Simunjan being grabbed by the government, which later on leased it to companies linked to Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud’s family,” he said.

‘Opposition have nothing else to say’

Meanwhile, Awang Tengah accused the opposition and rights groups of continuing to harp on old NCR land issues just before and during the state election campaign.

“The accusations that the government is robbing the natives of their land are re-emerging because the opposition have nothing else to say,” he charged.

Awang Tengah, who is Minister of Public Utilities, reiterated that the government has never robbed the owners of the NCR lands, and added that if the government wants to make use of such lands for public purposes, they will be compensated.

“People must always remember we do not build roads for monkeys and wild boars.”

Condemning the opposition for politicising land issues again and again, Awang Tengah said the government was serious in addressing and solving NCR land matters.

“The opposition never stops recycling land issues during elections because they think they can hoodwink the people,” he said.

azlan

“Why would the government want to grab the NCR lands from the owners? We acquire land for public purposes like development, roads and schools. It is for the benefit of the people.

“Besides, so long as the government does its job in stages, the opposition will be at a loss for what to bark (about),” he said, referring to the opposition’s criticism on the government’s move to complete the perimeter survey on NCR lands by 2015.

He said no limit had been imposed on the survey, which would be extended to cover all areas concerned.

The Land and Survey Department (LSD), he said, had identified 107 areas covering 386,000 hectares of NCR land for the survey this year.

Some RM30 million has each been allocated to conduct the survey in 2011 and 2012.

“We do not impose limits on the survey like the opposition has claimed. The survey is an ongoing effort to benefit all NCR landowners in the state,” he said after launching the Lands and Surveys’ Innovation and Integrity Day in Kuching.

He reminded NCR landowners that priority would not be given to those whose properties were linked to court cases.

“We do not want to interfere in any court process so those who have filed any case with the court will not be included in the perimeter survey list,” he said, adding that they must give full cooperation in order to get the survey completed as soon as possible.

Screening of Malaysian Exiled Documentaries

During April and May 2010,2 series of documentaries produced under TV2 chinese program Galeri Mandarin Nasional, were shelved and banned respectively by Director General of RTM. In this month, a remade version of this 2 documentaries which reveal the social impact of Bakun Dam and Rawang high tension power plant, are going to be shown to a wider audiences in more than 12 places along the west coast of the peninsula.

This series of activities including forum and screening will start on 8th March and is jointly organized by Peoples Documentary Foundation, VideoArt Magazine and Malaysiakini.Organizations which host the screening include, KLSCAH Social Economic Committee, New Era College Media Study Society, KajangLim Lian Giok Cultural Development Centre Perak (LLGPERAK), Penang Chinese Town Hall,SUARAM PenangPakatan Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Taiping,Negeri Sembilan Chinese Assembly Hall Youth (NSCAHY),Malacca Chinese Assembly Hall (Youth Section),Pusat Khidmat Ahli Parlimen Bakri, Muar,Pakatan Keadilan Rakyat Kluang,SUARAM Johor Bharu.

Documentary that reflects social reality is a rare breed of vulnerable survival in Malaysia. This genre of film will have to counter both inner and outer endangerment where audiences’ requirement of entertaining, the interferences from MSM, and the self-censorship of media take place. In April 2004, producer of NTV7 current affairs talk show ‘Editor's Time’ cum producer of ‘Edisi Siasat’ Joshua Wong Ngee Choong resigned to protest the self-censorship of media; National TV station TV2 producer of ‘Galeri Mandarin Nasional’ Chou Z Lam was fired since he produce and broadcast the Bakun documentary series, these are how the bad law of media control kills the growing of documentaries and political interferes the freedom of information.

In such stringent situation, documentary as the most effective way of information dissemination to record and to critique social realities, must overcome the shackle proactively and face the unpopular dilemma to actively create method where mission that can both reflect social realities as well as keep intimate relation with audience.

As such, we give up the temptation to entertainize documentary, overcome the self-imposed restrain and filtering of MSM, and “run” the documentary out of mainstream. The “running” is not giving oneself up but abandon the comfort and safety, to face the real public, and to face greater challenge and chance.

As the first round of screening, we will screen the founder of Peoples Documentary Foundation Chou Z Lam’s remade Bakun Trilogy part 1 & 2, and the director cum producer of VideoArt, Lai KK’s “March Encircling”, in more than 12 different locations in west coast of west Malaysia . In order to resurface the year long shackled Bakun Dam project issues and the issues of Rawang villagers’ facing dangerous hi-tension power cable, to meet the whole population. Below the screening details:

Title of Activities:

Screening of Exiled Documentary

Objectives of the activities:

1.Breaking the shackle of information

2.Knowing the documentaries

3.Shaping Civil Societies

Organizer:

Peoples Documentary Foundation, Video Art Magazine, Malaysiakini

Main sponsor:

Journalist and writer support group for Indigenous People

Co-organizer:

KLSCAH Social Economic Committee, KL

New Era College Media Study Department, Kajang

Lim Lian Giok Cultural Development Centre Perak (LLGPERAK), Ipoh

Penang Chinese Town Hall, Penang

SUARAM Penang

Pakatan Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) , Taiping

Negeri Sembilan Chinese Assembly Hall Youth (NSCAHY), Seremban

Malacca Chinese Assembly Hall (Youth Section), Malacca

Pusat Khidmat Ahli Parlimen Bakri, Muar

Pakatan Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), Kluang

SUARAM Johor Bharu

Screening Date

8 March 2011 – 6 April 2011

Contents:

1Film Screening :

a) Bakun Trilogy: Episode 1 Flood (42 minutes)

b) Bakun Trilogy: Episode 2 Injustice (46 minutes)

c) Defend Our Homeland (60 minutes)

2Q & A Section (20 minutes)

3. Opening Ceremony : Talk ( Topic : Documentaries and Social Changes ) & Showing the trailer

Public Screening Schedule ( Subject to be changed )

Date

Time

Venue

Co-Organizer

Activity

01/3/2011

(Tue)

11am-12pm

KL & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH)

Social Economic Committee

Press Conference

08/3/2011 (Tue)

8pm - 1030pm

KLSCAH

Social Economic Committee

Talks & Trailer

09/3/2011 (Wed)

8pm - 11pm

KLSCAH

Social Economic Committee

Film Screening

10/3/2011 (Thus)

8pm – 11pm

Negeri Sembilan Chinese Assembly Hall

Negeri Sembilan Chinese Assembly Hall Youth (NSCAHY)

Film Screening

11/3/2011

( Fri )

8pm - 11pm

Kelab50-B,

Bangsar Utama

To be confirmed

Film Screening






15/3/2011

(Tue)

8pm - 11pm

Sepetang

(To be confirmed)

Parti Keadilan Rakyat

Taiping

Film Screening

16/3/2011

(Wed)

8pm - 11pm

Perpustakaan Mini Oasis, Ipoh

Lim Lian Giok Cultural Development Centre Perak (LLGPERAK)

Film Screening

17/3/2011

(Thus)

8pm – 11pm

Taiping

(To be confirmed)

Parti Keadilan Rakyat

Taiping

Film Screening

18/3/2011

( Fri )

8pm - 11pm

Penang Chinese Town Hall

Penang Chinese Town Hall, SUARAM Penang

Film Screening

19/3/2011

(Sat )

2pm - 5pm

Caring Society Complex,

Penang

Penang Chinese Town Hall, SUARAM Penang

Film Screening






24/3/2011

(Thus)

8pm – 11pm

Pay Fong Media Room, Malacca

Malacca Chinese Assembly Hall (Youth Section)

Film Screening

25/3/2011

( Fri )

8pm - 11pm

Pusat Khidmat Ahli Parlimen Bakri

Pusat Khidmat Ahli Parlimen Bakri


26/3/2011

(Sat )

8pm - 11pm

PKR office, Kluang

PKR Cabang Kluang

Film Screening

27/3/2011

(Sun )

8pm - 11pm

SUARAM Johor Bharu

Office

SUARAM JB

Film Screening

6/4/2011

(Wed)

3pm -6pm

New Era College, Kajang Selangor

Media Study Society

Film Screening

Talks

1. TopicDocumentaries and Social Changes

2. Speaker Chou Z Lam (Founder of Peoples Documentary Foundation )

Anna Har (Director of KOMAS)

Sylvia Lim (Founder & Chief Editor of Video Art Magazine )

MC: NTV7 Host - Ms. Tan Ley Teng

Synopsis of the Film

A) Bakun Trilogy: Episod 1 Flood / 42 minutes / 2010 / Director Leerang Bato / HD Format

In 1998, the notorious Sarawak Bakun Hydro Electric Project began forcibly relocating some 9,500 indigenous people, but there was a group of them determined to stay put, guarding their home and land. In October 2010, impoundment of the dam started, it is envisaged that an area of native customary land as big as the size of Singapore will be flooded within half a year.

B) Bakun Trilogy: Episod 2-Injustice / 48 minutes / 2010 / Director Leerang Bato / HD Format Costing RM 4.5 billion, the Sarawak Bakun Hydro Electric Project was twice shelved due to economic downturns; but ignoring the wishes of the forcibly relocated indigenous people, the Sarawak state government insisted on relocating some 9,500 of them to Asap Koyan resettlement area. Their then existing long houses, land and crops are yet to receive just compensations till today, the people are living in agony and misery.

C) Defend Our Homeland / 60 minutes / 2010 / Director Lai Kim Koon / HD Format

Five-years Struggle by residents of Rawang New village,Selangor, to protest against the construction of high-voltage cables.

By tomorrow (March 17, 2010) ,Tenaga National Berhad (TNB, referred to National Energy Company) will enter into Rawang chinese new village to start the demolition. Villagers worried that TNB might assault their houses in the midnight, so they stationed day and night in turns. This action involve more than 1000 peoples, including villagers, volunteers from security groups and non-governmental organizations. At the same time, Chou Z Lam,the producer of state-run TV station, RTM 2, exposed that a Chinese documentary program < Galeri Nasional Mandarin >,which was scheduled to show Rawang high voltage cable issue has been ordered to stop its broadcasting. About 80 peoples respond to the call of demonstration which is organized by 528 Media Action Group Coordinator and Writers Alliance of Media Independence (WAMI) and Centre of Independent Journalists (CIJ) at Kuala Lumpur Broadcasting Complex (Kompleks Angkasapuri)to protest against the dismissal of Chou Z Lam, and ban on the broadcast of documentary on Rawang high-voltage cables issue as well as documentary on Bakun Dam of Sarawak.

This documentary not only records the Rawang villager’s effort to defend their homeland, it also reflect the suppression of press freedom and some shortcomings of the privatization policy .