2011-02-18

Malaysian Government Fears Anti-Taib Protests

Public anger at Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahumd on the rise
- police issue warning over protest rally announced for Sunday


KUCHING, MALAYSIA, February 17, 2011, --/WORLD-WIRE/-- Weeks ahead
of the elections in the Malaysian state of Sarawak in Borneo, the
Malaysian police are fearing public protests against incumbent Abdul
Taib Mahmud, one of the longest-serving and most corrupt politicians
in South East Asia.

On Thursday, Sarawak State Police Commissioner Mohammed Salleh
warned the public against attending an anti-Taib protest rally
announced for Sunday in the state capital, Kuching. According to the
Borneo Post, those attending face "the risk of getting arrested for
participating in an illegal gathering". News about the planned
protest had been spread via SMS.

Taib Mahmud has recently come under fire for his family's excessive
wealth, which includes overseas assets worth hundreds of millions, if
not billions, of US dollars. Taib has been in power since 1981 and
simultaneously holds the offices of Chief Minister and Finance
Minister, as well as State Planning and Resource Management Minister
of the resource-rich state in Borneo.

The Taib family has profited immensely from the destructive logging
of Sarawak's tropical rainforests and today has a stranglehold over
the state's economy. Among the companies controlled by the Taibs are
Achi Jaya, which has a monopoly on log exports, and Cahya Mata
Sarawak (CMS), a construction company which is routinely awarded
public contracts without open tender.

Malaysia does not grant its citizens either the freedom of assembly
or the freedom of association. The authorities are free to clamp down
on citizens under the draconian Internal Security Act (ISA) which
allows for detention without trial or criminal charges.

-Media Release Bruno Manser Fund via World Wire

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