Global Witness Video Exposes Alleged Corruption in Sarawak


As the insurgency in Sabah continues, the leadership in neighboring Sarawak has been stung again by charges of corruption that add to the mounting problems faced by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak who must call an election soon.

Voters in the two East Malaysian states could swing the election and cause the United Malaysian National Organization (UMNO) to lose its cherished grip on power, which it has held since Britain left its former colony in 1957.

Allegations of corruption have dogged Abdul Taib Mahmud, Chief Minister of Sarawak since 1981, whose family has amassed a fortune worth billions of dollars. He is under investigation by the authorities in Switzerland.

Global Witness has concluded its investigation of Mahmud and his family and produced a powerful video that features members of Mahmud’s family allegedly offering detailed advice on how to do business in the Malaysian state.

Tom Picken, Forest Campaign Leader at Global Witness, explained that after decades of industrial logging and plantation development just five percent of Sarawak’s forests remain intact. Yet, he added that the state still exports more tropical logs than South America and Africa combined.

“Mahmud has ruled the state for over three decades and controls all land allocation and forestry licensing,” Picken told The Diplomat. “He is widely understood to abuse this power to enrich his family and associates.”

Picken continued, “This film proves for the first time what has long been suspected – that the small elite around Chief Minister Taib are systematically abusing the region’s people and natural resources to line their own pockets. It shows exactly how they do it and it shows the utter contempt they hold for Malaysia’s laws, people and environment.”

From Cambodia to Congo, non-governmental organization Global Witness has run campaigns against corruption associated with environmental damage and human rights abuses in the region for the last 19 years.

To create the film, a Global Witness staff member posed as a foreign investor looking to buy land for oil palm plantations. The investigator approached Regional Corridor Development Authority (RECODA), Sarawak’s government body charged with receiving foreign investment.

“An official at RECODA during a meeting in March 2012 directed our investigator to certain members of Taib’s family looking to sell their company licensed to log and clear land for plantations,” Picken said.

The video that resulted is potentially explosive and could not be released at a worse time for Najib, whose government has struggled to cope with an insurgency staged by 300 rebels who crossed the Sulu Sea from the southern Philippines in an attempt to re-stake an ancient claim to the northeast coast of Borneo.

The possible political blowback from these events could cost Najib dearly at the next election which must be held between now and the end of June.

July 11, 2013 at 09:36

Unbelievable…Wangle Taib’s & Family’s.

April 19, 2013 at 22:31

Yesss i want taib step down n give back our land.i is bumiputera bangsa salakau.i hate.taib

March 30, 2013 at 11:55

This games begins in 1987, the Ming Court affairs, the uncle's  and the nephew's game. At that time, there are too many paricides stoke around Yaccob, the uncle, inorder to make sure the power was transferred to Taib, the uncle and nephew organise a good show, there been never any quarrel we have to believe. That bad blood is thicker than the purified water!!!. Corruption had been since began during the Yaacub's day till now, one can see that how much have the people of Sarawak lost in the rich resources we have.

When Yaacob left, Taib took over the Sarawak State as Chief Minister, he instruction the then Director of the Forest Department to withdraw all the licenses of the Forest. The Letter quoted as " I am directed by the relevant Authority to ……" As a Director, he had the power to withdraw the License without any person interfering his duties. Clement Skinner made a good Judgement for the Keruntung Case.. Please dig the case by your ownself!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We have to the blame on ourself, for the last 32 years, we knew and all know that Yaacob, Taib and his families members are so Corrupted, any things and every things, his family have a share.. you build a house, you have buy cement from CMS, rock/gravels/sand from his family and associates, timber/steel from his family and associates, indeed our whole house built for leaving, 95% of the materials are to be purchased from his family and associates.

Dear fellow readers, what do we want now, if you don't make up to change, it will be too late for your this life round, Change, Change, nothing but change…… Good or bad….. Shine or rain… Change

Stefan Steinfeld
March 26, 2013 at 20:40

Pitoyable – will Malaysia ever change? I would hate to be a voter in a country where the choice is between the pan and the fire.

March 22, 2013 at 15:21

Well done to Global Witness. Thank you for believing righteousness.

March 22, 2013 at 11:39

Great work for the video, Global Witness. The video proof that all the rumors circulating for years were indeed true. But I expect limited justice under the circimstances. Very sad indeed. I was fined for submitting my income tax return late by a couple of months…a fine I could hardly afford then. Now we have lawyers who knew how to beat the laws to avoid paying capital gain taxes, abuse so called ignorant uneducated poor people, etc. The truth is only known to people who did that. Lastly, if this earth cannot bring us justice, I hope there is a god out there who will. Where are you my god?

Joseph anak Mangga
March 21, 2013 at 23:40

Anyone who supports the Chief Minister to say the video is a fabrication involving the complicity of cousins of the Abdul Taib Mahmud to slander him, is dishonest. Those of us in corporate and government and have working relations involving the powers-that-be in Sarawak, knows what is going on but hapless to do anything because of the equally corrupted Judicial, top government officials, politicians, and senior members of the uniformed services in the so-called "democratic system" facade of Malaysia. God willing, there will be a change of guards come the next elections and hopefully we will be finally be rid of Mahathirsm.

March 21, 2013 at 18:52

Welldone Global Witness..

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