Friday, March 22, 2013

Lawyer implicates Taib in second GW video

BY BOO SU-LYN
MARCH 22, 2013
Taib has been Sarawak chief minister for 32 years. His personal wealth has been the subject of much controversy. — file picKUALA LUMPUR, March 22 — Global Witness (GW) released another video today that showed a lawyer saying that Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud would approve a land deal in the state.
Taib, however, said last Tuesday that those featured in the global environmental campaigner’s first video, which was released last Tuesday, were promoting themselves as his agents in order to solicit favours.
“This already get the ascension, the approval, verbally, from our chief minister. He is the minister for resource planning, he can decide through the board of ministers,” Huang Lung Ong told a GW investigator, who was posing as a foreign investor, in the video titled “Outtakes — Inside Malaysia’s Shadow State”. 
“Once we’ve got the name, we submit. We will get the approval. This is part of the condition precedent for the transaction,” added the lawyer from Huang & Company Advocates, who was recorded in GW’s first video as trying to sell land for his uncle Datuk Hii Yii Peng, who is a prominent businessman in Sibu.
GW released the 2.5-minute video on YouTube today in response to Huang, who was quoted by English daily The Malay Mail last Wednesday as saying: “Why should I speak about the chief minister?”
Huang also reportedly said that he felt pressured and that he made his remarks out of frustration as the GW investigator kept questioning him. 
GW’s second video, however, showed a relaxed Huang during his conversation with the GW investigator in a hotel room.
In the first video, Huang was recorded as saying that at least 10 per cent of the sale price for the land would go to Taib as commission. 
Huang, however, was quoted by The Malay Mail as saying that his conversation with the GW investigator was mere “coffee shop” talk.
The lawyer has also previously told GW that he was never appointed by Hii. 
GW, a UK-based organisation, released on Tuesday video proof of shady land deals in Sarawak that appeared to implicate the long-serving state’s chief minister and his family, with the clip released on international media like Al-Jazeera and The Huffington Post. 
In a covert investigation, GW captured on video dealings with Taib’s cousins and several other intermediaries to acquire thousands of hectares of forest land that the London-based activist said revealed the systematic corruption and illegality that lay at the heart of Sarawak.
In a 16-minute video clip titled “Inside Malaysia’s Shadow State”, GW investigators, who posed as foreign investors, recorded snippets of their conversation with Taib’s cousins and lawyers, to purchase the land for hefty profit and which the environmental campaigner said would displace thousands of indigenous people living there.
Taib, 76, has been Sarawak chief minister for 32 years, having taken office in 1981.
His personal wealth has stirred much controversy, with detractors alleging he gained much of it through dubious means.
The Advocates’ Association of Sarawak (AAS) lodged a police report against Huang and Alvin Chong, another lawyer identified in GW’s first clip. The AAS also said that it would refer the two lawyers to the Inquiry Committee for professional misconduct.
~ The Malaysian Insider

View video here.

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