Thursday, March 1, 2012

Timber concessions to MP’s family a ‘reward’?

Joseph Tawie

February 29, 2012
Revelations by Sarawak Report provide clues as to why Jacob Dungau Sagan is an ardent supporter of Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud, says PKR's Baru Bian.
KUCHING: Was Jacob Dungau Sagan, Baram MP and Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister being rewarded with business contracts and belian (Borneo iron wood) concessions for supporting the construction of the dreaded Baram Dam?
This is the question being asked by his constituents, including those from his own longhouse of Long Anap.
On Feb 25, Sarawak Report revealed that Sagan, his wife and daughter are the secret holders of three timber concessions in Sagan’s parliamentary constituency of Baram.
The concessions, estimated to be worth several millions, are specially licensed to harvest belian, a particularly rare and sought-after Southeast Asian tree species.
Belian has been classified by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), as a vulnerable species and is banned for export from Sarawak and from Indonesia.
Said Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian: “Sarawak Report has revealed that Sagan’s family company, Dema Tiga Sdn Bhd, is held by his wife, brother and sister-in-law [believed to be his proxies].
“The company has received RM63 million in public contracts over the last five years, including one for a rural water supply system funded by the federal government and commissioned by the Sarawak Public Works Department.
“These revelations provide the answers to those who have been wondering why Sagan has been an eager supporter and defender of Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud.”
Sagan was reportedly upset by his (Bian’s) statement that Taib’s promise that Sarawak would be the richest state was nothing but another one of his hollow promises.
Sagan said Bian’s statement clearly showed that he has no confidence in the Sarawak people to develop the state, and was not aware of programmes the state government was working on.
Conflict of interest
Bian, who is the Ba’Kelalan assemblyman, said: “It is true that I have no confidence in the BN government, whose members are only interested in lining their pockets.
“On the other hand, I have full confidence in the people of Sarawak to make a proper judgment of what is right even in this particular case.
“It is now crystal-clear why Sagan supported the construction of the dreaded Baram dam, which is set to drown 26 villages in his constituency, including his birthplace, Long Anap.
“It is estimated that the construction of the dam will displace about 20,000 indigenous people in Upper Baram,” Bian said, adding these people are given low priority on Sagan’s list.
“By accepting the belian concessions, he has put himself in a position where there is obviously a conflict of interest.
“He cannot effectively perform his duties as an elected MP and has lost all legitimacy to continue representing the people of Baram.
“The price of greed is high, and for him, the cost will be his self-respect and the respect of his constituency, and indeed, of the people of Malaysia.
“He should resign from his position if he has any shred of honour left in him in the light of these revelations,” Bian said.
He added that PKR wants the Malaysian Anti-Corruptions Commission (MACC) to investigate this shocking abuse of power and breach of trust by a federal deputy minister.
“We demand to know how and why Sagan was given timber concessions and other lucrative contracts.
“Since the government recognises that the giving of a bribe is also a crime, the MACC should also investigate the source of these licences to Sagan and determine whether indeed there has been a breach of the law,” said Bian, who is a lawyer.
~ Free Malaysia Today

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