Thursday, March 10, 2011

The real scandal at the Home Ministry

The real scandal at the Home MinistryThere is a revealing remark made by the Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein in response to reports about Radio Free Sarawak  (RFS) and Sarawak Report (SR) and the individuals behind them.
Clare Rewcastle Brown, the sister-in-law of former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and Iban activist, Peter John Jaban, have  made known that they are the personalities behind RFS and RS.  Clare is the author and founder, whereas Peter is the voice behind RFS.
Hishamuddin said, “This is not about politics. This is about spreading malicious lies, the issue of unity and harmony among the races”.
Umno and BN have been busy searching for RFS in Malacca. Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu’s youth wing have lodged a police report, claiming RFS had been operating illegally and spreading lies, especially about Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud.
Thus, it is Hishamuddin’s concern for Taib’s feelings rather than acknowledging Sarawak’s unease over the accusations hurled by RFS and SR, that is disgusting.
Hishamuddin stated that no legal action would be taken at the moment because of the ongoing investigation. He also stressed that the Internal Security Act could not be used against both Clare and Peter as they do not pose a ‘serious security threat'.
But how could Hishamuddin ignore what it is that RFS and SR have been trying to highlight to the whole world? He should investigate the Sarawak timber industry’s complex structure and its intimate links to Taib.
The timber companies linked to Taib have benefitted from the destructive logging on their home turf. They also expanded operations in South East Asia and now also operate in Australia, Africa, Central and South America, Russia and the Pacific.
Taib ignores his own people and when it comes to land allocation, land tenure and native customary rights, the people are sidelined.
Taib has absolute control over the allocation of timber licences and logging concessions to himself, his allies, friends and family. With his influence, even the Sarawak Timber Industry Development Corporation (STIDC), cannot exercise its regulatory role.
The Sarawak timber groups, rated according to the size of their timber concessions in Sarawak are:  Samling (over 1.3 million hectares), Rimbunan Hijau (over 1 million hectares) rank first, followed by WTK group (850,000 hectares), the Ta Ann group (over 557,000 hectares).
Two other major players, the KTS group and the Shin Yang group cannot be ranked due to insufficient transparency with regard to the concessions held by them.
All these timber groups also hold major oil palm plantation land banks.
At least four timber tycoons rank among Malaysia’s top thirty richest people. Tiong Hiew King of Rimbunan Hijau, Yaw Teck Seng and Yaw Chee Ming of Samling Group, as well as Ta Ann’s chairman Abdul Hamed Sepawi, who is Taib’s first cousin.
Taib is responsible for his state’s severe environmental destruction and a very unequal distribution of wealth and economic opportunities. His system of political patronage means that local indigenous groups lose out.
People like the Penan fight for nothing more than their legitimate rights to their land whilst Taib, who dominates the timber industry in Malaysia, also controls many other important industries in Sarawak, including oil palm, construction, property development, shipping, trade, tourism and media.
Sarawak is one of the resource-richest states in Malaysia and earns billions of US dollars a year from timber and timber products plus the same amount again from crude oil, natural gas and palm oil.
However, the government and the political elites have simply ignored the rights of local indigenous groups, and failed to distribute the timber wealth and revenues equally to the people of Sarawak.
So Hishamuddin, are all these not worthy of an investigation? Or are you as blind as the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission?

No comments:

Post a Comment