2011-02-19

Bruno Manser Fund to Launch International Campaign Against Sarawak Timber Corruption

Bruno Manser Fund to Launch International Campaign Against Sarawak
Timber Corruption


Campaign focus on Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud - Corruption
identified as one of the main drivers of Borneo deforestation

BASEL, SWITZERLAND, February 18, 2011, --/WORLD-WIRE/-- The Bruno
Manser Fund is about to launch an international campaign against the
blatant corruption and abuse of public funds by Abdul Taib Mahmud,
Chief Minister of the Malaysian state of Sarawak. A campaign website,
www.stop-timber-corruption.org, will go online on Monday, 21 February, and will be regularly updated and equipped with features for an interactive campaign with
public participation.

**Abdul Taib Mahmud**

Taib, one of South East Asia's longest-serving politicians, has been
in office since 1981 and is planning to celebrate his 30th anniversary
in power on 26 March 2011. The 75-year old kleptocrat will stand as an
incumbent for another five-year term of office in the upcoming Sarawak
state elections, which are due to be held before July.

Taib has abused his public office to a frightening extent and has
managed to convert the state of Sarawak into his family's private
estate. He simultaneously holds the offices of Chief Minister, and
Finance Minister, as well as that of State Planning and Resources
Minister, which gives him enormous political power.

In addition, Malaysia's "Barisan Nasional" coalition, which forms
the federal government, is dependent on Taib's support to remain in
power. Sarawak's largest private company, its electricity supply,
large-scale logging interests and the control of log exports are also
concentrated in the hands of the Taib family.

Since 1983, Taib and his immediate family members have started to
transfer considerable parts of their ill-gotten assets overseas. The
Bruno Manser Fund has established a black list with 49 Taib companies
in eight countries worth hundreds of millions, if not billions, of
dollars. The list will be published next week, and the authorities of
these countries will be asked to freeze all Taib assets and to launch
criminal investigations against the Taib family.

In Sarawak, corruption has proved to be one of the main drivers of
deforestation. While most of the state's forests have been logged or
converted into plantations over the last three decades, Sarawak's
indigenous communities have seen little, if any, benefit from Taib's
so-called politics of development. Poverty, illiteracy and a lack of
basic infrastructure are omnipresent in rural Sarawak.

Sarawak's numerous indigenous communities, and particularly the
Penan, have struggled since the 1980s against destructive logging and
have fought for their land rights but, in most cases, they have been
outmanoeuvred and cheated by Taib and his cronies.

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