Thursday, October 31, 2013

Sarawak Energy grants USD196 million in contracts to Chief Minister’s son amidst growing tensions over dam projects


October 31, 2013 at 2:18am

BRUNO MANSER FUND, BASEL / SWITZERLAND
30 October 2013, for immediate release

+++BREAKING NEWS+++ Sarawak Energy grants USD196 million in contracts to Chief Minister’s son amidst growing tensions over dam projects

Taib family-linked Sarawak Cable bags RM 618.6 m (USD 196m) in contracts from state-owned dam builder Sarawak Energy – Outrage grows over CEO Torstein Sjøtveit’s practice of favouring the Chief Minister’s family – Natives score victory as protests force Sarawak Energy to halt survey works for the planned Baram dam

(BARAM RIVER / MALAYSIA) Sarawak Cable, a company closely linked to the family of Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud, has been granted two new contracts to develop transmission lines in Sarawak worth RM618.6 million (USD 196 million), the Malaysian press reported today.

According to the Sun Daily, stock exchange authorities in Kuala Lumpur were informed yesterday by Sarawak Cable that its subsidiary, Trenergy Infrastructure Sdn Bhd, had received a letter of award for two 500kV transmission line projects in Sarawak (Mapai to Lachau and Lachau to Tondong). Sarawak Cable said these contracts were “expected to contribute positively to the earnings and net assets of Sarawak Cable Group.”

Sarawak Cable is chaired by Mahmud Abu Bekir, the elder son of Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud. According to company documents, the Sarawak strongman’s son is both chairman of Sarawak Cable and its second-largest shareholder with a 33% stake in the company (21% held directly and 12% indirectly).

The Bruno Manser Fund is dismayed that Sarawak Energy under its Norwegian CEO, Torstein Sjøtveit, continues with the corrupt practice of favouring the Chief Minister’s family. Already between 2010 and early 2013, Sjøtveit had granted over 220 million USD in contracts to Taib family-linked enterprises.

“By granting contracts worth a grand total of over 400 million USD to the Chief Minister’s son, Mr. Sjøtveit’s conduct has passed all levels of decency”, Bruno Manser Fund director Lukas Straumann said on Thursday. “We ask Mr. Sjøtveit to resign immediately as he has lost all credibility when claiming that he contributes to the development of Sarawak. Instead, he has made himself a tool of the Taib family’s unrestrained greed and corruption. Mr. Sjøtveit should feel ashamed for what he is doing to the people of Sarawak and to the reputation of Norway in Malaysia.”

The explosive news comes amidst a situation of growing tensions over the planned Baram dam construction. Earlier this week, native communities scored a victory when their blockades forced Sarawak Energy workers to halt survey works for the planned Baram dam. State assemblyman Dennis Ngau commented to The Star that the situation was “very hot” on the ground and said he was “worried the situation will boil over in a physical confrontation.” Ngau said he wanted a cooling period to find a way out of the dispute that had “threatened to turn into a serious political and social issue.”

Picture: courtesy of the Borneo Post
~ Bruno Manser Fund

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