An undercover video reveals the manner in which Sarawak’s vast natural resources are being sold for profit by the powers-that-be, and the corruption involved.
KUALA LUMPUR: An international NGO recently posed as foreign investors seeking to buy land for oil palm plantations in Sarawak and unravelled in shocking detail the outflow of funds in Malaysia, the level of corruption in Sarawak and the depth of Chief Minister Taib Mahmud’s family’s involvement in raping the state.
According to Global Witness, they had approached the Regional Corridor Development Authority (RECODA), a 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.
“Out of four land leases offered to Global Witness during 2012, members of the Chief Minister’s family were direct shareholders or beneficial owners of three of these.
“The fourth deal was proposed by an intermediary on the understanding that Taib would receive a multimillion dollar kickback from the selling party,” said Global Witness.
Among the key findings of their investigations were:
• Kickbacks – A representative of one of Sarawak’s biggest tycoons indicated that Taib would be likely to receive a multimillion dollar kickback for a plantation licence;
• Corrupt land deals – Members of Taib’s family were allocated land through directives from the state Ministry of Resource Planning and Environment, headed by Taib, for a mere RM300,000, which when sold would make the family multi-million ringgit profits.
• Tax evasions – A Taib-family owned company was offered for sale through an illegal transaction in Singapore designed to evade Malaysian tax.
Additionally, Global Witness also found out that there was a “well-established” team of lawyers who routinely facilitate illegal transactions in violation of Malaysian and Sarawak laws.
Global Witness was also told by senior government officials and a timber company executive that it was standard practice in Sarawak for companies to pay a personal kickback to Taib in return for obtaining timber and plantation licences, typically amounting to 10 per cent of the commercial value of the licence.