An anti-graft activist has told Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem that his predecessor Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud’s impunity from prosecution has to end if the people are to take seriously his pledge to end corruption in the local timber industry.
Global Witness director Patrick Alley (top photo) said this to Adenan at a discussion on corruption in investment and development at the 16th International Anti-Corruption Conference in Kuala Lumpur.
Taib was chief minister before Adenan, from 1981 to 2014, and has gone on to be Sarawak’s governor despite scores of allegations that he had enriched himself and his family by logging Sarawak’s forests.
When he took over, Adenan promised to end corruption in Sarawak’s timber industry. Alley, whose organisation produced a documentary in 2012 on corruption in Taib’s administration, called on Adenan to take action against Taib in order to prove his pledge.
“Without ending impunity and what happened in the past, how can you change the future? What has happened in Sarawak has gone global,” Alley said at the plenary session titled “Peace, equality and social justice: fighting corruption in investment and development beyond 2015”.
Alley said Adenan could at least freeze the assets of the former chief minister, his family and that of his cronies. Alley added that while Adenan has promised to end illegal logging and corruption in the timber sector, the big six companies that profited from Taib’s administration are still able to operate freely.
“Taib is governor and the logging companies still trample on the natives and they still log the same forests. Taib’s family continues to prosper.
“The forest dependent people of Sarawak have suffered harm and in the worst case, they have been raped and murdered and the forests that mitigate climate change are no more.
“Are you able to acknowledge that Taib and his cronies have been the root of this and if you can’t take them on then how can you change?” Alley asked Adenan.
In response, Adenan said Taib has been cleared by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) who had opened up several investigation papers on him.
“People are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty… If you want to accuse MACC of bias that is between you and MACC,” Adenan said adding that his administration was committed to tackling the problem of illegal logging.
Adenan told reporters later that no charges have been brought against Taib despite the numerous allegations made against the former chief minister.
During the dialogue session, Adenan said in the past year, the Sarawak forestry authorities have closed down 30 illegal saw mills and intercepted the transportation of illegally felled trees.
“Do not look at the past anymore there is nothing much I can do, let’s look forward to the future and not on recriminations,” Adenan said.
He admitted that there were corrupt forestry officials in Sarawak who allowed logging in protected state parks and urged groups such as Global Witness to come forward with information on illegal logging.
“I don’t know recriminations will carry any weight if you want to you say this and I say that, there will be no end. “You come to Sarawak and show us the facts and we will show you ours and we will take it from there.” – September 3, 2015.
–The Malaysian Insider