Malaysia’s Timber Baron coming to the UK – Join the protest

Where: Entrance of the Said Business School, Park End Street, Oxford OX1 1HP
When: From 9.30 am Monday 26th July 2010

One of Asia’s greatest kleptocrats and single-handedly one of the most destructive forces against the environment and the people who depend on it, the Chief Minister of Sarawak, Abdul Taib Mahmud, will be making the opening address at the Said Business School’s inaugural Islamic Branding and Marketing Forum on Monday 26th July.

During his 30 years of iron grip over Sarawak, Taib Mahmud has systematically plundered a country once rich in natural resources, oil and timber.  He and his family are now multi-billionaires, while indigenous tribes resort to the law courts to reclaim their ancestral lands.

Indigenous tribes are struggling to keep logging and oil palm plantations out of the last corners of their ancestral lands, some which are the last remaining areas of bio-diversity left on earth. Recent reports have revealed shocking evidence of their treatment, including the systematic rape and abuse of their women by logging workers, an outrage that Taib Mahmud has refused to acknowledge or investigate.

Abdul Taib Mahmud has destroyed all but 3% of the Borneo jungle in the state, which had been handed all but intact into the care of his uncle, his  predecessor.  Habitats which are home to the Orang Utan, proboscis monkey, a plethora of unique plant and animal life have been destroyed due to his rapacious and unsustainable plunder of the jungle. Oil Palm plantations span the length and breadth of Sarawak where ancient trees once stood before they were cut down. One would think that proceeds from exports would have been ploughed back into the state but the people of Sarawak remain some of the poorest in Malaysia.

Taib Mahmud’s ‘business interests’ are notorious.  The whole state of Sarawak has been illegally absorbed into the possession of his cronies and family members through ‘privatisations’ and the handing out of palm oil and timber concessions, via arbitrary state acquisitions of native lands. He now runs the State as a family business, maintained through systematic electoral intimidation and fraud. See SarawakReport for evidence linking Taib to multi-million dollar properties in Canada, the US and the UK.

Taib Mahmud has laughably advertised his UK visit as a promotion of ‘Green Development’ in Sarawak and will be focussing on the promotion of Islamic and Halal products, his latest venture, during his visit to Oxford. But, we ask – just how ‘Halal’ are products produced under the auspices of this man ?

It is a standing disgrace that Oxford University should be extending a hand of welcome and supporting the status of such a man.  His wealth and ability to endow is not in doubt, however there is no possible basis of legitimacy for such wealth, as can only be plainly apparent to all his hosts.

The people of Sarawak are struggling to rid themselves of this man and his parasitical family and to preserve their unique environmental heritage from his further ‘business ventures’. 

Please lend your support to their struggle and to the campaign to preserve what is left of the Book of Life and the Borneo Jungle’s natural wealth.  Defend the rights of the indigenous tribes that rely on the rainforest for their livelihoods. Demand that Taib Mahmud explain the source of money that has enabled him to purchase multi-million pound properties in Canada, USA and the UK. Urge the Malaysian government to seek justice for the Penan women who have been raped and sexually abused by loggers.