Global Witness defends secret video on alleged corruption
by Haresh Deol, The Malay Mail
As the nation braces for the 13th general election, the timing of the Global Witness (GW) video 'Inside Malaysia's Shadow State' posted on YouTube on Monday has been questioned by various parties.
The Malay Mail (TMM) contacted GW's campaigner Alex Halen regarding the video and the UK-based NGO's intention.
This was what they had to say:
TMM: How did your good organisation come about to initiating the investigations and producing the video?
GW: Before we embarked on this project, GW already had strong evidence suggesting a high probability of corruption. It was our assessment we could not get this kind of evidence by overt investigations and that there was a clear public interest in filming these activities secretly.
Our investigator formally approached the government agency tasked with receiving foreign investors (the Regional Corridor Development Authority) and was quickly forwarded to the cousins of Chief Minister (Abdul Taib Mahmud).
What do you hope to achieve through the video?
The film presents serious evidence suggesting corruption and abuse of public office, as well as evidence surrounding tax evasion and skirting Malaysia's company laws. Our aim is to expose this and provide renewed momentum for the government to crack down on corruption (which Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak is publicly committed to).
Many question the timing of the video with the general election looming around the corner.
This investigation is wholly and explicitly apolitical. We are not endorsing any particular party but highlighting grave issues of corruption at the heart of government in Sarawak.
Whoever forms the next government needs to crack down hard on graft and undertake fundamental reforms to stop this kind of abuse of public office, so that Malaysia's people can see for themselves what decision are being made over its resource wealth.
What about possible legal action (by parties in the video) against your organisation?
GW has taken all steps to ensure the legal veracity of the allegations. In addition to the extensive video evidence, we have the relevant documents provided by the parties featured in the video and have corroborated the links between the parties through other sources such as company register searches and media reports.
We performed legal due diligence and asked all parties featured in the publication for comment before publishing, and incorporated a summary of their comments at the end of the video.