Monday, February 17, 2014

Civil society group launches petition against Taib Mahmud becoming next Sarawak governor.

BY LEE SHI-IAN
FEBRUARY 17, 2014
More than 50 NGOs, including Bersih Sibu and Suaram, and the youth wings of DAP, PAS and Keadilan are firmly against Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud (pic) being appointed as the next Yang Di-Pertua of Sarawak, saying it would be a "national disaster" if the current chief minister becomes the next governor.
This civil society group, launching an online petition to show thumbs down against the purported appointment, said Taib was guilty of corruption and exploitation during his 33 years in office.
"He had exploited the natural resources of Sarawak excessively for his personal gain," the NGOs said.
"Sarawak was said to have one of the highest forest clearing figures in Asia, with more than 90% of the forest lost to logging."
The NGOs pointed out that Taib's administration had also embarked on mega-dam construction projects which were illogical economically and affected the natural environment in the state.
"The irony is that Sarawak remains one of the poorest states in Malaysia, despite being rich in various natural resources," said the NGOs, adding that while Sarawak remained poor, Taib has become one of the richest men in Malaysia.
An extensive study by the Bruno Manser Fund (BMF) estimated Taib to be worth US$15 billion (RM46 billion) while 20 of his family members are worth a collective US$21 billion (RM64 billion).
A secret investigation by international NGO Global Witness has implicated Taib with involvement in corruption, land seizure and tax evasion.
"He is alleged to have committed these offences through his iron grip on logging licences and oil palm estates in Sarawak," said the NGO, who further added that the outgoing chief minister was also responsible for numerous human rights violation.
"Civil and political rights have been trodden and shrugged aside, media freedom has been limited and election fraud is done openly," the NGOs claimed.
The group pointed out that the position of Sarawak governor should be a symbol of unity for the people from all levels of the community.
"It is clear that Taib, having inflicted so much misery and suffering on the people of Sarawak, is not qualified for this position," the NGOs said.
There are also concerns that Taib intends to begin a political dynasty in Sarawak to strengthen and tighten his grip on the state in the years to come.
The NGOs noted that the incoming chief minister, Tan Sri Adenan Satem, is Taib's former brother-in-law who is bound to protect him against any investigation or prosecution for wrong-doing during the latter's time in office.
The NGOs opposed to Taib's appointment as Sarawak governor include Bersih Sibu, Save Malaysia Stop Lynas, Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia, Suaram and Solidarity Anak Muda Malaysia, while the political party wings are DAP Socialist Youth, Keadilan Youth Movement, PAS Youth.
Taib's resignation is to take effect on February 28, while Adenan will take office from March 1.
Taib will also step down as Balingian state assemblyman. It is widely speculated that Taib will be the next governor.
Yesterday, a Switzerland-based non-governmental organisation lodged a police report against Taib's family for allegedly laundering timber kickbacks in Canada, while PAS had called on local graft busters to disclose the progress of its investigation against him.
PAS Information chief Datuk Mahfuz Omar had urged the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to disclose its findings following complaints made against Taib.
The BMF said it had lodged the report with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), based on "new evidence" which apparently proves a financial link between Richfold Investments Ltd in Hong Kong and Sakto Development Corporation in Ottawa, Canada.
Sakto Development Corporation is a multi-million-dollar developer run by Taib's daughter, Jamilah Taib Murray. - February 17, 2014.
~ The Malaysian Insider

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