Friday, October 31, 2014

Taib takes legal action to stop book on Sarawak timber trade

BY DESMOND DAVIDSON

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: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/taib-takes-legal-action-to-stop-book-on-sarawak-timber-trade#sthash.nSWewB8j.dpuf

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