Secret US Government documents have stood up Sarawak Report’s allegations about corruption in Sarawak.
A dossier of US Embassy dispatches to Washington, compiled by the Bruno Manser Foundation from the Wikileaks site, has now revealed that the United States Government has been well-informed about the extent of Taib Mahmud’s abuse of power in the state.
The revelations raise fresh questions about the judgement of America’s top law enforcement agency, the FBI, in choosing to house one of its key facilities in a building owned by the Chief Minister in the United States.
For example, one confidential cable from the US embassy in Malaysia to the State Department in Washington, dated 13 October 2006, noted that:
“Taib and his relatives are widely thought to extract a percentage from most major commercial contracts - including those for logging – awarded in the state. … Embassy sources outside the government uniformly characterize him as highly corrupt.” [Bruno Manser Foundation report]
In a further passage that will embarrass some of Taib’s key political cronies, including Alfred Jabu and James Masing, the report also says that a source had told the US embassy that Taib appointed “compliant local leaders” from various tribes into “financially rewarding” government positions as a means of stifling potential opposition.
The US embassy’s Political Section Chief, Mark D.Clark, concluded:
“the Sarawak state government remains highly corrupt and firmly in the hands of its chief minister. The $82 million state assembly building now under construction serves as perhaps the most obvious and extreme example of the self-enrichment of the state’s chief minister and other senior government officials.”
The report also notes how the Chief Minister and his government have failed to safeguard the human rights of its most vulnerable citizens after 30 years in power.
It outlines how the human rights group Suhakam told US officials that 15,000 Penan tribe members lack electricity, water treatment and schools and criticized the federal and state governments for not fulfilling their promises to provide access to primary education for all citizens.
Corrupt deal with BN
A further US Embassy dispatch in November 2009 presented more damaging evidence, describing how BN have allowed Taib to run roughshod over the state in return for providing the ‘safe deposit’ of seats that have enabled the coalition to cling to power for over 50 years.
The cable explains:
“Chief Minister Taib Mahmud remains unchallenged after 27 years in office, his government doles out timber-cutting permits while patrolling the under-developed state using 14 helicopters, and his family’s companies control much of the economy.”
The report relates how US embassy officials were received by then Deputy Chief Minister George Chan “at his newly built mansion next to Kuching’s most exclusive golf course“. Chan told them that the Federal Government had been “pouring millions of ringgit” for development into Sarawak. He described the allocation as a form of ‘gratitude’ to the Sarawak state government for “delivering the seats to secure the BN’s majority at the Federal level.”
To the contrary, Sarawak in fact receives a miserable allocation of federal resouces in comparison to the rich revenues it provides to central government.
Of a total of RM109 billion of state spending last year, only RM9 billion went to the two East Malaysian States of Sabah and Sarawak, which had provided the bulk of that revenue.
Likewise, only 5% of the entire oil revenue from Sarawak and Sabah is allowed to be retained locally. The remaining 95% is taken by KL.
So, as these US dispatches make evident, as long as Taib has delivered Sarawak’s safe seats and the oil revenues, BN has been willing to allow the local dictator to take what he wants and exert absolute power. This includes the blatant election rigging for which Taib has become notorious.
Growing series of questions for the FBI
The result of these latest revelations will be to further intesify pressure on America’s top law enforcement and anti-corruption agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), to investigate its own connections with the Taib family.
Last year Sarawak Report exclusively reported that the Abraham Lincoln building in Seattle, Washington State, which houses the agency’s North Western Headquarters, is owned by Taib and his family.
To enter the top secret facility requires the highest level of security clearance and it handles counter-terrorism and South East Asian affairs. Yet according to our information, confirmed by California Superior Court depositions in 2008, the shareholders of the company Wallysons Inc, which owns the building, are three of Taib’s children, Jamilah, Rahman Sulaiman and Abu Bekir Mahmud Taib, as well as two of his brothers Onn and Arip Mahmud (now deceased). [See our reports on Sakti US, and Taib's US foreign properties , also documents provided by former Taib aid Ross Boyert]
Despite this evidence the FBI has ignored requests that they review their tenancy.
This further evidence that the US Government’s own records have long since made clear that the Taib family are indeed corrupt and that their wealth and properties are the proceeds of an illegal abuse of power, can surely not be so easily ignored?
Over the past several months, even Malaysia’s own Anti Corruption Commission has launched its own investigation into Taib’s affairs. Our own reports have illustrated that there are no legitimate means by which the Chief Minister could have legally acquired the multi-million dollar building, since neither he nor his family had independent sources of wealth.
Time to investigate
Under these circumstances Sarawak Report now challenges the FBI, as the US’s top law enforcement agency, to launch an immediate review into why one of its main headquarters is located in a building that is the likely product of money laundering.
It is time the FBI also reviewed why no investigation has so far been launched into the Taib family’s extensive string of assets in North America? With Malaysia already investigating the Chief Minister and an investigation already underway in Switzerland, it is high time the United States acted on its own evidence and led by example.
The Borneo Project, based in California, has launched a petition this week to stop the FBI supporting corruption in Sarawak. You too can sign by clicking below: