Friday, October 31, 2014

Why always Anwar, asks veteran Aussie ex-judge

3:50PM Oct 31, 2014
By Hafiz Yatim
Elizabeth Evatt is Australia's first woman Federal Court judge and the 81-year-old legal eagle is in Malaysia to observe Anwar Ibrahim's sodomy appeal.

However, she is puzzled as to why the sodomy law seems to be mainly applied on the opposition leader.

Speaking to reporters at the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya, Evatt, who is representing the International Commission of Jurists, said she noticed that not many people are charged with sodomy in Malaysia and most of the cases involved Anwar.

She also described the sodomy law as discriminatory and a violation of human rights.

"This is a relic of the British legal system, which even it (Britain) has abolished," she said.

Asked whether she observed any interference with regard to the proceedings, Evatt said there had been no such incident thus far.

"I guess we will have to wait for the outcome," she added.

Meanwhile, another international observer, Danthong Breen, said if the issues raised during the appeal have created reasonable doubt, then it warranted an acquittal.

"If doubt has been proven, that is enough to get an acquittal," added the International Federation of Human Rights representative.

The two are among six international observers present at the Federal Court.

The others are International Bar Association's Grainne Mellon, Centre for International Law's Harry Roque, Centrist Asia Pacific Democracy International's Fernando Penan and Interparliamentary Union, Lawasia and Australian Law Council, which is represented by Mark Trowell.

The Court of Appeal had overturned the March 7 High Court decision and convicted Anwar of sodomising his former aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan.

The appellate court also sentenced him to five years imprisonment.

Anwar has always maintained that the sodomy charge was fabricated by his political rivals, but the government has denied this.
~ Malaysiakini

Sarawak needs more Federal funds

October 30, 2014
Sarawak, in a reversal of roles, has the largest number of poor people in Malaysia, followed by Sabah.
Datu Ismawi Ismuni_sarawakKUCHING: Sarawak needs more Federal funds under the 11th Malaysia Plan beginning in 2016 to carry out the socio-economic transformation necessary to achieve high income status by 2020.
Datu Ismawi Ismuni, State Planning Unit Director in the Chief Minister’s Department, stressed this point while warning that the state only received RM15 billion during the 10th Malaysia Plan compared with RM17 billion during the previous plan.
“RM15 billion isn’t sufficient to carry out the necessary development works in the state,” he said in a media update on Tuesday. “The allocation doesn’t tally with Sarawak’s 10 per cent contribution to national economic growth last year.”
He said the Sarawak Government had worked out six thrusts for the 11th Plan.
These are rethinking economic growth; strengthening economic growth catalysts; expediting economic growth in rural areas; managing resources for environmentally sustainable growth; human capital development as the key catalyst in development; and increasing the quality of life.
Minister of Welfare, Women and Family Development, Fatimah Abdullah disclosed in late Sept that in a reversal of roles, Sarawak has the largest number of poor people in Malaysia, followed by Sabah. This was based on the number of people, 102,549, registered for the e-Kasih programme to combat hardcore poverty.
~ Free Malaysia Today

Indigenous communities want rights to their forest lands

Posted on October 30, 2014, Thursday

KUCHING: The indigenous communities in Baram, especially the Penans, are placing high hopes on Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem to recognise their rights on their forest lands.

Nick Kelesau (left) and Bilong Oyau.
Nick Kelesau, who is a Penan from Long Kerong, said all that the indigenous people wanted from their struggle for the past 30 years was for the government to protect their rights and preserve their forest lands besides looking into other pressing problems faced by them.

“The struggle to protect our forest is not only for the Penans but also for the whole world. Not only the forest is very important to us, but also for those who are doing PhD studies.

“I hope the new chief minister will recognise our rights, not only for the Penans, but also the other indigenous people,” he said at the launching of two new books – ‘The Peaceful People’ and ‘Money Logging’ – at a local restaurant here yesterday.

The event, themed ‘New CM, New Hope? – Governance in Sarawak and the Struggles of Indigenous Penans for Justice’ was officiated by Batu Lintang assemblyman and land rights lawyer See Chee How.

Nick claimed that the indigenous people in the interior were disappointed as there was no development in their areas to show that the government was concerned for their plights and their struggle for their rights.

Citing an example, he said the Penans in Long Kerong and Long Sait had requested the government to assist in water piping problems in their areas and for a road to be built between the two settlements to enable their children to go to school.

“Until now, nothing is being done to help us. The villagers had to depend on themselves to build a small bridge to enable the children to go to school.

“What we got from the government is not what we wanted such as the ‘Tangki 1Malaysia’. We don’t need that. We need other things such as giving us our rights for our lands.”

Long Sait village head Bilong Oyau said the Penans had been travelling to Kuching and Kuala Lumpur in their effort to convince the government to recognise their rights.

He said the indigenous communities, especially the Penans, were very persistent with their struggle to defend their forests because they are areas from where they get resources such as herbs for traditional treatment and wood.

“We have plans for each of our areas and we hope that the government will approve them so that the Penans will have rights over their areas.”

On Baram HEP dam, Bilong said the project was not what the majority of Penans wanted, and hoped that the chief minister would cancel the project.

Earlier, Paul Malone, the author of “The Peaceful People” described the Penan as peaceful people who not only refused to mount revenge attacks but also demonstrated remarkable forbearance.

“Their historic peaceful nature is shown in the records I have documented in this book.

“They refused to mount revenge attacks, even when their women and children were massacred by outsiders; and they showed great restraint in their anti-logging and anti-dam protests where excessive force has been used against them.” said Paul, the Australian journalist with 40 years standing.

Read more:

More state seats in the offing

by Jonathan Chia, Posted on October 30, 2014, Thursday

Bill to increase number of assemblypersons to 82 likely to be tabled at DUN sitting
KUCHING: There is a good chance that Sarawak will see 11 state seats added to the present 71 if a State Legislative Assembly (DUN) Bill that has been circulating around is anything to go by.

The Bill, which is expected to be tabled and debated during the DUN sitting beginning Nov 10, will be enforced once it is approved and gazetted.

According to the Bill’s explanatory statement, it is necessary and appropriate to increase the state seats considering the growing number of electors apart from the accelerating pace of development in the state since 2005 when the present number of DUN members was determined.

It also cited the overall need to provide the people effective representation in the legislature, thus the need to increase the number of representatives to 82.

“This Bill is, therefore, presented under Article 14(2) of the Constitution of the State of Sarawak to increase the membership of the Dewan Undangan Negeri to 82 elected members.”

State Election Commission director Datu Takun Sunggah, who is currently away in Melaka, when contacted said he had no knowledge of the proposal.

“We will have to wait until the DUN sitting then we will know,” he said.

Speculations are rife that the areas that may be affected are Belaga, Baram, Simanggang, Sibu, Miri, Kalaka, Siburan, Batu Kawa, Bandar Kuching and Samarahan.

Apart from the Bill on increasing the DUN membership, the state government will be presenting Land Custody and Development (Amendment) Bill, 2014, Land Code (Amendment) Bill, 2014 and Supplementary Supply (2014) Bill, 2014.

Among the Bills that will draw interest is the Land Code (Amendment) Bill, 2014, which seeks to permit owners of land held under native customary rights to transfer, dispose of, or have dealing over such land and natives may also acquire, purchase and inherit such land; improve provisions dealing with caveats.

Read more:

SAVE Rivers wants illegal loggers to leave and demand authorities to stop colluding with the illegal loggers

Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 10.30.17
30 October 2014

MIRI – Save Sarawak Rivers Network (SAVE Rivers) view the actions of the Sarawak Forestry Corporation enforcement officers (SAPU) together with the police to collude with a company doing illegal logging to dismantle the blockade at KM15 Long Kesseh, Baram as plain disgraceful.

What is more shocking is that the one of the officers from SAPU by the name of Ahsan Odau claims he has the authority to dismiss the native customary rights (NCR) claims of the Kayan community of Long Kesseh, that the logging company has absolute rights to log the area and order the police to arrest the Baram Dam protesters that erected the blockade there.

Yesterday, at the Miri Sessions Court, one of the managers of M.M. Golden Sdn. Bhd., Teng Yek Foo, and a boat operator, Laseh Seling was found guilty of trying to bribe the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) officers to not report their illegal logging activities at Long Kesseh.

M.M. Golden was extracting Tapang and protected species of trees within the area of Long Kesseh, especially at the proposed site of the Baram HEP Dam without the proper permit from the Forestry Department.

M.M Golden is the sub-contractor to Autorich Sdn. Bhd., which claims to have the licence to log the said area, but now this so called logging license of Autorich has come under question as to how the Forestry Department can issue a logging licence over logged over areas without an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) done, as required by the law.

SAVE Rivers once again strongly demands that M.M Golden and Autorich and/or its agents and/or contractors to immediately stop their illegal logging activities and leave the site.

SAVE Rivers also strongly demands that the Sarawak Forestry Department and the Sarawak Forestry Corporation cancelled any permits or licence issued to Autorich and/or its contractors and/or agents that is overlapping over the NCR lands of the community at Long Kesseh.

SAVE Rivers demands that action be taken if M.M. Golden and Autorich if they are logging illegally at the said area.
In connection with the illegal logging and endorsement by the Forestry Department, represented by their officer, Ahsan Odau, a police report and complain to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission in Miri was made by Anyie Eng from Naha’ on the 28th Oct requesting the authority to investigate the illegal said illegal logging and the involvement of the Forestry Department.

- END –

Press Statement issued by;
Peter Kallang
Chairman, SAVE Rivers
For further information, contact Peter Kallang, 013-8331104 or Mark Bujang, 014-8776685.

Taib takes legal action to stop book on Sarawak timber trade


Sarawak PKR deputy chairman See Chee How (centre) with Paul Malone (left) holding his book 'The Peaceful People: The Penan and their fight for the forest' and Lukas Straumann with his book 'Money Logging: On the Trail of the Asian Timber Mafia' at the joint book launch in Kuching. – The Malaysian Insider pic, October 30, 2014.

Sarawak PKR deputy chairman See Chee How (centre) with Paul Malone (left) holding his book 'The Peaceful People: The Penan and their fight for the forest' and Lukas Straumann with his book 'Money Logging: On the Trail of the Asian Timber Mafia' at the joint book launch in Kuching. – The Malaysian Insider pic, October 30, 2014.
Sarawak strongman Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud who is the subject of a new and unflattering book, “Money Logging: On the Trail of the Asian Timber Mafia”, has launched legal proceedings to stop its international launch and sale.
Taib, the former chief minister and now the Yang Di-Pertua Negeri, instructed his London lawyers in the firm Mishcon de Reya, to stop the launch, said the book's author Lukas Straumann.
Straumann said in a letter to his Swiss publisher, Bergli Books, that the law firm had stated: "If the book is published in English by a reputable publisher, it will cause colossal and irreversible harm to our client's reputation".
Mischon de Reya said the book "accuses our client of being a 'despot'; having committed crimes; earning billions of dollars illegally from the timber trade; hiding that fortune abroad through sham companies; committing 'one of the greatest environmental crimes in history'; being a 'corrupt autocrat'; breaching international laws and regulations; using his profit from logging to feed corruption; and finally, having 'liquidated a forest in order to keep himself at the helm of a state".
“Taib's lawyers are asking Bergli Books not to publish the book", said Straumann in a statement this evening.
Straumann, a director of Swiss environmental group Bruno Manser Fund, said a similar letter was sent to the internet-based company Amazon UK, demanding that Amazon "will not distribute the book".
The Swiss environmentalist said he is refuting Mishcon de Reya's demands and stated that “he will not retract a single word as the book has been meticulously researched and is strictly fact-based”.
He said Bergli Books had also assured the Bruno Manser Fund that the book will be on the market as agreed upon.
Amazon did not react to the letter and were still offering the book for sale, Straumann said.
Despite the legal threats, the international book launch in Yokohama, Japan, on November 3, “will go ahead as scheduled”, he added.
The launch is to coincide with the 50th session of the International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO).
Nine other cities – Ottawa and Vancouver in Canada; San Francisco and Washington DC in the United States; London; Brussels in Belgium; Basel and Geneva in Switzeland – will also host the book's launch.
The 10 cities, he said, were the cities where Taib and his family reinvested their alleged illicit proceeds from the state's timber trade.
Straumann made a surprise launch of the 300-page paperback in Kuching yesterday.
The book was presented in a joint launch with Australian journalist Paul Malone’s book "The Peaceful People: The Penan and their Fight for the Forest".
The launch was witnessed by Sarawak PKR deputy chairman See Chee How. – October 30, 2014.
- See more at:

Anti-dam campaigners to hold ‘jungle conference’ for Baram villagers under threat


Long San and several neighbouring settlements within a 30km radius will be underwater if the Baram dam is built. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, October 31, 2014.

Long San and several neighbouring settlements within a 30km radius will be underwater if the Baram dam is built. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, October 31, 2014.
Anti-dam campaigners in Sarawak will organise a “conference in the jungle” next week for hundreds of people in Baram who are in danger of being displaced by the proposed hydroelectric dam.
The Baram People's Conference on November 6 and 7 in the Kenyah settlement of Long San, which aims to to help the rural folk understand the implications of the dam on their lives and livelihoods, will feature speakers like environmental experts, human rights advocates from Suhakam as well as political scientists.
Local grassroots leaders and elected representatives of the ruling Barisan Nasional and proponents of the dam have also been invited “to give their and the government's point of view” though organisers have little hope they will show up.
“We hope the conference will open the eyes and minds of the Baram people on the dam,” Peter Kallang, chairman of the non-governmental organisation Save Sarawak Rivers, said at a recent Save Baram fundraising dinner in Miri.
“Do the people in Baram know the pros and cons of the proposed dam? How much do they know?
“This conference, we hope, will get the people whether they are affected directly or indirectly or not at all, to think outside the box,” said Kallang.
“We don't want the government to force the dam down their throats.
“We do not have to just follow what the government thinks is best for us,” said Kallang, whose longhouse is outside the dam reservoir.
“The government has a vision. Their vision is an industrialised state powered by the electricity generated by series of dams they plan to build,” Rolang Engang, a local PKR politician, said.
“The problem is the Orang Ulus have no vision of their future. So there is a danger they will just follow what the government thinks is best for them,” he said.
Long San, considered the home of the Kenyah culture, will be underwater if the dam is built, as will several neighbouring settlements with a 30km radius.
Long San is also a popular tourist destination.
Kallang said Long San was chosen over Miri for the venue of the conference to avoid causing unnecessary financial constraints for the people in rural Baram.
“It would cost a person around RM140 to get to Miri on a 4x4 and back. Not many people in rural Baram can afford that.
“So we take the conference to them.” – October 31, 2014.
- See more at:

Seizure of Christian materials a violation of Malaysia Agreement, says pastor

-Maklin Masiau, a pastor whose Christian books and CDs containing the word ‘Allah’ were seized by Customs officers at klia2, has urged his friends and well-wishers to remain calm. – Facebook pic, October 31, 2014.
Maklin Masiau, a pastor whose Christian books and CDs containing the word ‘Allah’ were seized by Customs officers at klia2, has urged his friends and well-wishers to remain calm. – Facebook pic, October 31, 2014.The pastor whose Christian books and CDs containing the word “Allah” were seized by Customs officers at klia2 in Sepang last Saturday, said he has been cheated of his rights as a Sabahan to practise his religion as promised in the Malaysia Agreement.
The Customs notice of the seizure of Christian books and CDs. – The Malaysian Insider pic, October 31, 2014.The Customs notice of the seizure of Christian books and CDs. – The Malaysian Insider pic, October 31, 2014.Maklin Masiau, who was detained and questioned for 40minutes by the Customs officers before his books and CDs were seized, said he was now prepared for the protracted process of getting the authorities to release the materials.
“I know the football game had just started,” he wrote in a posting on his Facebook page.
He said the Customs officers told him to deal with the Home Ministry for the release of the books and VCDs.
Masiau, who has refused to answer calls or reply to WhatsApp messages, also said on his Facebook that he would follow up on the seizure according to the required procedure and believed a settlement could be reached.
He appealed to his friends and well-wishers to remain calm, pray for a solution and avoid making comments with religious sensitivities.
“Pray for the Customs Department, the Home Ministry and all the agencies involved.”
On the incident at klia2, Masiau wrote: “I was detained and questioned for about 40 minutes.
“Even though I pleaded with them not to seize my things with all kinds of concrete reasons, they were steadfast in seizing them.
“Their main reason for the seizure was the books and the CDs contained the word Allah.”
Maklin, who was flying from Medan, Indonesian to Kota Kinabalu with a transit stop in Kuala Lumpur, said he had bought the CDs from the store Pdt. Ir. Niko as Christmas gifts to the church of Bethel Mawar Saron.
Maklin said the klia2 incident was his most bitter experience.
“I not only lost close to RM10,000. Worse, I lost my rights as a Sabahan who had been promised the freedom to practise my religion in the Malaysia Agreement.”
Council of Churches of Malaysia general secretary, Rev Dr Hermen Shastri, when contacted, said that they would leave it in the hands of Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, Tan Sri Joseph Kurup to resolve the matter.
He said the Protestant church of Sabah had contacted Kurup, who is also from Sabah, to enlist his help to work through the process as the materials were confiscated by the Customs Department, a federal authority.
"We are giving the government a chance in good faith to resolve it," Hermen said. – October 31, 2014.
- See more at:

Can 'loner' Adenan lead Sarawak to new era?

10:16AM Oct 30, 2014
By Joseph Tawie
Sarawak PKR has questioned the ability of Chief Minister Adenan Satem in leading the state into a new era of accountability, transparency, justice, equality and good governance, considering that he does not have the support of his cabinet ministers.

Adenan has stood out as the only state cabinet member who  signed the integrity pledge, and until today, no other BN politician holding public office has followed his footsteps, Sarawak PKR vice-chairperson See Chee How said.

“Will the new chief minister rise to the call to lead Sarawak into a new era, one of accountability, transparency, justice, equality and good governance?

“Adenan is alone, unfortunately. He is a loner in his pledge for integrity, leaving his government’s integrity in the hands of his cabinet ministers, none of them his own choosing,” said See (left).

By not enforcing it (integrity pledge) upon his cabinet members,  it givesthe impression, and the most concrete evidence, that Adenan has no power over his cabinet ministers.

“Is it any wonder then that we see the old regime actively in charge, behind the scene, with the new chief minister’s hands and legs  tied? See asked.

He said that Adenan should not go down in Sarawak’s history as the chief minister who is a follower, a loner, powerless leader of this great state of Sarawak.

“Adenan should instead quickly take charge, be a commander of his state administration, let his leadership shine through the past regime and return the beauty and wealth back to our Fairland Sarawak,”  See said.

He was speaking at the launching of two books - 'The Peaceful People’ by Paul Malone and ‘Money Logging’ by Lukas Straumann - in Kuching yesterday.

See said that the two books should serve as a good reminder to all Sarawakians to support not merely Sarawak for Sarawakians, but more importantly a transparent, accountable, democratic, just and equal Sarawak for all Sarawakians.
~ Malaysiakini

Book exposes greed in Sarawak timber trade

9:30AM Oct 31, 2014
By Joseph Tawie
A new book ‘Money Logging’, to be launched in Kuala Lumpur today, exposes the greed that has fuelled the destruction of forests in Sarawak which Mutang Urud calls ‘home’.

One of the greatest environmental crimes in history, the issue, said Mutang in the book’s foreword, is more than just the theft of trees.

“Surely, if my people have lost their ecosystem, their traditional way of life, their clean drinking water, and their freedom to roam the forests, they must have gained something. Yet they haven’t.

“Many of the people of Sarawak are as poor as they were when I was born.

“And yet, the value of the trees that have been felled is estimated to exceed US$50 billion,” Mutang wrote.

He alleged that the profits have fed corruption, kept oligarchs in power, and used to commit further crimes.

Mutang claimed that fortunes have been moved through the world’s leading financial system, most secretly, to places as distant as Zurich, London, Sydney, San Francisco and Ottawa.

The book, written by Lukas Straumann, executive director of Swiss-based Bruno Manser Fund, charts the trail of businesses and investments linked to logging wealth.

Stolen culture

“It is also about power, more precisely, how a corrupt autocrat has liquidated the forest in order to keep himself at the helm of a state.

“For my people, it is also more than a question of trees. It is about our culture they have stolen,” he claimed.

As a young adult in 1970s, Mutang watched the loggers not only destroy the forests, but also divide communities with bribes and pay-offs.

“They were like thieves in the night; indeed, they were working in such haste that their machinery could be heard at midnight, even on Sunday.

“Our ancestral land has been desecrated, our history erased, the very memory of our origins lost.

“As a young idealist, I could not stand by while this crime was occurring. In the 1980s, I helped organised blockades to stop the bulldozers and chainsaws.

“I founded the Sarawak Indigenous People’s Alliance as a rallying point for our people’s resistance,” wrote Mutang, who went on a global campaign on this issue.

Wealth and impunity

“Back in Sarawak, the police attacked our blockades and sent many people to jail. I was arrested, interrogated, and held in solitary confinement.

“Upon my release, I left Malaysia to speak about these environmental crimes at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro and at the United Nations,’ he wrote.

Fearing arrest, Mutang spent 20 years overseas, and upon returning, saw the rainforest he loved almost gone.

The big question for him “is how a single man, along with a small group of very rich politicians and businessmen, could destroy the richest ecosystem on earth despite not owning it, despite local and global outcry, despite international laws and regulations.

“Simply put: Who has stolen our trees?” he added.

‘Money Logging’ was launched by Batu Lintang PKR assemblyperson See Chee How in Kuching on Wednesday.

The book’s Kuala Lumpur launch is today, to be followed by events in Japan, Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Belgium and Switzerland.
~ Malaysiakini