18 NOVEMBER 2014
I am encouraged by the Chief Minister’s firm stand on illegal logging and corruption in Sarawak. These crimes have been long-standing and Sarawak has paid a heavy price over the last few decades. It is undeniable that the economy, the environment and the people have suffered heavy losses. In fact, this was one of the major issues we highlighted to the Chief Minister when PKR leaders had a meeting with him in October this year.
It is also encouraging that 21 government agencies, corporations and contractors have signed the Corporate Integrity Pledge. However, it is the implementation of the pledge in their everyday activities that counts and the degree of compliance by these parties remains to be seen. What the Chief Minister has done is a start, but the results must be seen, if the skeptics and cynics are to be convinced. The MACC must take the Chief Minister’s statement seriously and be given enough resources, and protection if necessary, to investigate every complaint lodged with them. Ultimately, the people will judge for themselves and it is prosecutions and convictions that we want.
While the Chief Minister is on this mission to protect the rights of Sarawak and Sarawakians, I urge him to order a thorough and impartial investigation on the shocking allegations and the evidence revealed in the book ‘Money Logging’ by Lukas Straumann which was launched in Kuching recently. The scale of corruption exposed is the reason that Sarawak is one of the poorest states in Malaysia despite being wealthy in natural resources. The ‘big fish’ is still swimming freely in cool waters while the smaller fish are feeling the heat. This is the one big thing that has ‘painted a bad name on us internationally’, to borrow the Chief Minister’s words.
I would also urge the Chief Minister to look into the cries of the indigenous people who are struggling so hard to defend their lands against the dam builders. The activities of the various parties involved in clearing the land and building dams and the deals signed between them must be scrutinized for elements of corruption. The Chief Minister should consider for himself why the previous administration started on this dam-building frenzy and whether there is really a need to destroy huge tracts of lands, drowning the homes of thousands of people.
Therefore while we are heartened that some steps have been taken in this fight against corruption, we will continue to be watchful – for concrete steps to be taken, for reports from the MACC and for results to be shown in convictions and restitutions.
N70 Ba’ Kelelan