London kicked off the planned week of international protests against Taib’s 30th year in office this morning. They staged a show of disgust outside the Central London headquarters of the wealthy propety company that is linked to him, Ridgeford Properties. A good crowd of mixed Malaysians, Sarawakians and British sympathisers gathered to make their message plain. “30 years is long enough”! The banners spoke for themselves and a human monkey danced amongst the crowd to remind the cameras and journalists who had gathered from as far away as Australia and Italy that this protest is not only to support the natives of Sarawak but also the creatures of the jungle who are endangered by Taib’s relentless destruction!
The planned week of demonstrations is to mark the advent of Taib’s 30th Anniversary in office, which falls on 26th March. The elderly chief minister has made it plain that he plans to carry on none the less and fight the coming elections – he has recently married a very young new wife to demonstrate his ability to go on and on and on. However, as long-term dictators have started toppling from power in a wave of popular protests throughout the Middle East it is fair to say the timing of this election is not good for the frail 75 year old.
The messages that could be read on the banners spelt out the protesters points of view – none of which could be articulated in Sarawak itself, hence the demonstrations abroad: “Freeze Taib’s Assets Now” was one slogan, which reflects what has been happening to the former heads of state Mubarak of Egypt and Ben Ali of Tunisia. “Respect Native Rights”, “Save the Borneo Jungle”, “Save the Sarawak Rainforest”, “Stop Illegal Logging on Native Lands”, “Taib’s Billion Pound Property Empire” and “Stop Timber Corruption” were just some of the messages the British protest sent back to Taib in Sarawak today.