EXCLUSIVE An undercover investigation by an international NGO has revealed video evidence of how Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud’s family members and business associates abuse logging licences to enrich themselves at the expense of ordinary Sarawakians.
Two of Taib’s first cousins, a family member of Taib’s key business partner and a lawyer who represented the cousins have been caught on video explaining the mechanisms of circumventing existing laws to profit from the scheme.
The video was discreetly recorded by an investigator with Global Witness, a London-based NGO that investigates and campaigns against environmental and human rights abuses.
The undercover investigator was sent to Sarawak last year posing as a “foreign investor” looking to buy land to set up oil palm plantations.
The investigator approached the Regional Corridor Development Authority (Recoda), the state government body charged with handling foreign investments, and was immediately directed to certain members of Taib’s family who were selling companies licensed to log and clear land for plantations in Sarawak.
These licences were issued by Sarawak’s Ministry of Resource Planning and Environment, which is headed by Taib…
WHAT IS THIS FILM ABOUT?
This investigation provides undercover footage of the corruption and illegality at the heart of governance in Sarawak, Malaysia’s largest state, on the island of Borneo.
For over thirty years, Sarawak has been governed by Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud, who controls all land classification, forestry and plantation licenses in the state. Under his tenure, Sarawak has experienced some of the most intense rates of logging seen anywhere in the world. The state now has less than 5 per cent of its forests left in a pristine condition, unaffected by logging or plantations and continues to export more tropical logs than South America and Africa combined.
The film reveals for the first time the instruments used by the ruling Taib family and their local lawyers to skirt Malaysia’s laws and taxes, creaming off huge profits at the expense of indigenous people and hiding their dirty money in Singapore. Taib and the local lawyers we approached denied Global Witness’s allegations of corruption. A summary of their responses are included at the end of the film.