19 Jul 2012

Sime Darby’s Greenwash Scandal!

Sime Darby’s Greenwash Scandal!

This post is also available in: Iban, Malay

Sime Darby - millions spent on pushing its 'eco-credentials' and 'corporate-social responsibility agenda', but now it has been exposed over corruption in the appropriation of Native Customary Lands

Sime Darby is Malaysia’s largest company and the world’s largest palm oil conglomerate. It is predominately owned and controlled by the Malaysian Government.

So, maybe little surprise that it is enmeshed in corruption, as laid bare by the arrest and charges against its former Chief Executive this week over the misappropriation of millions of ringgit.

What has interested the people of Sarawak however, is that these charges relate to criminal dealings over Native Customary Rights (NCR) Lands grabbed by Taib and his side-kick, the ‘Land Development Minster’ James Masing.

Land Grabs

Masing’s ‘New Model Joint Development’ of native lands has caused grief and destruction all over Sarawak during the past decade.

As the rash of current court cases against these ventures has shown, many, many native communities were not consulted over the removal of their lands under this scheme.  Nor were they compensated and nor have these “joint ventures” provided them with any noticeable reward or benefit beyond the destruction of their lands, now converted to oil palm by Sime Darby and other such mega-corporations.

As the PKR leader and native rights lawyer, Baru Bian said in a statement following the arrests:

“This latest Sime Darby episode serves as another example of land-grabbing in Sarawak, a phenomenon which is widely practiced by those with powerful connections, but which the CM claims does not exist.”

Masing, nevertheless, still plans to continue ‘alienating’ a million hectares of Native Customary Lands via this illegal method, which is not only proving to be a human tragedy but also an environmental disaster, causing the destruction of some of Sarawak’s last remaining rain forests.

Much of the area that he has selected to be handed over to such “JVs’ is in his own region of Kapit, including lands taken and given to two companies, Nature Ambience Sdn Bhd and Vertical Drive Sdn Bhd, which were sold via the BN crony Chew Chiaw Ann to Sime Darby back in 2008 and 2009.

Scapegoat? - Many believe that Ahmad Zubair is being saddled with the blame for the RM2billion shortfall in Sime Darby's profits. After all the company's real controllers are Malaysia's political bosses, including Musa Hitam, former Deputy PM and Sime Darby Chairman.

It is these deals that are now the subject of the corruption investigations against former Sime Darby Chief Executive, Ahmad Zubair.

The move corroborates Sarawak Report’s own research, which has shown that nearly all the NCR lands sold via Taib’s ‘Land Custody and Development Authority’ over recent years have been subject to highly questionable profit-making on the part of politically connected individuals and relatives of the Chief Minister.

Take for example our expose on James Masing himself who, together with his deputy Mong Dagang, had sought to profit to the tune of some RM70million from the sale of native lands belonging to their own constituents!

However, as the legal battles get underway to bring at least some of these misdeeds to account, where does this leave the much trumpeted ‘eco-credentials’ and ‘corporate and social responsibility agenda’ of Malaysia’s largest company?

Not much left to save! - Eco-gestures by one of the main destroyers of Sarawak's rain forests, the Malaysian Government-owned Sime Darby

The ‘Corporate Circle’ supported by World Bank contender Jeffrey Sachs

Last year we pointed out Sime Darby’s corporate failings when we questioned the company’s inclusion in the so-called “Corporate Circle” adopted by the New York economist Jeffrey Sachs, who heads up Columbia University’s Earth Institute as their Professor of Sustainable Development.

Sime Darby, who was paying huge sums to the now discredited PR company FBC Media to boost its eco-image, had just donated half a million dollars to Professor Sach’s institute, whose sponsors are promoted as pioneers of sustainability.

Embarrassingly, in their PR presentations FBC Media simultaneously boasted that it had ‘cultivated’ Jeffrey Sachs to become an ‘ambassador’ for the company.

FBC Media - 'We cultivated Jeffrey Sachs, Professor of Sustainable Development at Columbia's Earth Institute'

FBC highlighted for example, how Sachs had appeared in an FBC-organised advertisement on behalf of Sime Darby in the Herald Tribune in which he claimed that:

“leading companies like the oil palm giant Sime Darby have recognized that long-term environmental sustainability is vital to the business interests of serious, law-abiding companies with long-time horizons”[Jeffrey Sachs - International Herald Tribune]

Not so law-abiding after all? - Sachs poses in a Sime Darby 'advertorial' organised by FBC media next to BN top man and company Chairman Musa Hitam

A year later, as the corruption scandal has bubbled on following Zubair’s arrest in 2010, the self-styled world poverty and sustainability guru has moved to distance himself – Sime Darby no longer features in his Corporate Circle.

Sime Darby's vision of a 'sustainable future'!

Nevertheless, Professor Sachs made full use of his apparently continuing close relations with Malaysia’s BN regime (main proprietor of Sime Darby) when he launched an extraordinary personal campaign to snatch the top job as President of the World Bank!

Sachs styled his unprecedented personal bid earlier this year on the basis that he represented world poverty and sustainability interests.  Key among a handful of countries supporting him in this guise was Malaysia!

In fact, Malaysian corruption and its unsustainable stewardship of Sarawak and Sabah has been one of the key driving forces behind the destruction of the Borneo Jungle and the appalling human rights abuses against its indigenous peoples.

If Professor Sachs wishes to confront world poverty and end environmental destruction, we suggest he should accept this truth and stop employing Malaysia’s BN regime as one of his main sponsors.  It is high time that more of the world’s more powerful voices and prominent people started to speak up for the native people of Sarawak!

 

  • BunyiPutera

    Very easy to fool the Dayaks in NCR land scam lah…

    Just let their own Dayak leaders do the bullshit crap talkings…Taib only sit down and watch in full laughter HI HI HI PALOI PUNYA DAYAK taib whispers quietly

    After harvesting the oil palm fruits, BN keep the harvest money mostly and let the Dayak keep the oil palm leaves, trees, branches for nothing OHHHAAA

    _______________________

    Jabu: Govt fair and transparent on land matters

    Borneo Post, Tuesday, September 11, 2001

    BETONG: The government is doing its utmost to be fair and transparent in handling matters pertaining to land in the interest of landowners, Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar Alfred Jabu has reassured.

    He said the issuance of thousands of land titles to landowners in the area should be proof that the government would not hold back what were due to the people.

    To date, the government had issued more than 20,000 titles in 39 different areas in Sri Aman Division covering an area of more than 37,000 acres.

    He said when handling over land titles to landowners at Saban Resort in Ulu Paku near here on Sunday.

    About 50 landowners received their land titles from Jabu covering an area of about 750 acres of Native Customary Right (NCR) land.

    He said the government had also issued 139 land titles six months ago at the same venue.

    He said opposition elements should not make issues out of land matters as the government had always protected the interests of the people.

    He called on recipients to help counter opposition propaganda spread by the opposition that attempted to portray the government as being unfair and not transparent in handling land matters.

    Jabu who is Minister of Land and Rural Development, called on more landowners in the area to participate in oil palm plantation projects.

    He said another 5,000 hectares of land in the area had been found to have the potential for large-scale land schemes that would bring about immense benefits to the landowners if developed.

    He reiterated that the government would continue to implement various infrastructure projects and provide amenities to the people to uplift their living standard.

    The Superintendent of Lands and Surveys, Sri Aman Division, Encik Brahim Lumpu advised NCR landowners with Jubilee Occupation Tickets (J.O.T) to renew their tickets at Land and Survey offices nearest to them.

    Earlier, Jabu released fish fry into Batang Layar and later met the St.Augustine Development Committee.

    Among those present at the function was Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Douglas Uggah Embas, Resident of Sri Aman Division, Encik Patrick Engkasan Digat, Political Secretaries to the Chief Minister, Encik Richard Tawan and Encik Isik Utau, Betong District Officer.

    ___________________________________

    Invest in NCR land devt: Jabu

    Borneo Post, Wednesday, April 04, 2001

    BINTULU – Natives in the rural area are urged to provide the best education to their children so that there will be enough skilled manpower to develop the vast tract of land in the State.

    Making the call here today, Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar Alfred Jabu said the longhouse people should try to realise the vision of producing at least 10 graduates from each longhouse in the next 10 years or so.

    He said in order to achieve that goal, the natives need to have better incomes and derive long-term benefit from their land.

    “The NCR land development is a good investment, where owners are shareholders of the joint venture companies and part of the upfront payment was invested in unit trust for high return,” he said at the handing-over of upfront cash payment to NCR land owners at Parkcity Beverly Hotel here this morning.

    Jabu said that with land development projects coming their way, there are many opportunities, either contract or employment available near them. Those who are willing to work hard will get the contract from the companies.

    “You people should work hard from day one to six and relax one day a week. Do not gamble everyday and drink till you are drunk,” he advised the people.

    Earlier, he urged the NCR land owners not to be influenced by the minority group

    _______________________

    Jabu under fire over NCR scheme

    By Tony Thien, Malaysia Kini, 28 Apr 2009

    A Miri-based Dayak NGO has taken Sarawak’s most senior Dayak minister Alfred Jabu to task for ‘once again shortchanging the community’ through one of the state government’s most praised native customary land development schemes commonly known as ‘Konsep Baru’ or new concept.

    It cited the latest incident which involved the Iban communities from Rumah Belili and Rumah Ranggong situated at Ulu Niah, Miri Division.

    Borneo Resources Institute Malaysia (Brimas) executive director Mark Bujang said last Thursday, Jabu (right) handed out a total of RM436,708.20 in dividends and bonuses to 226 participants of the Ulu Niah NCR Joint Venture Project.

    At first glance, he said, the total amount seems reasonable if the payment of dividends and bonuses are for the year 2008, but upon checking with the participants, it was learnt that this is the first time in 10 years that the JV project has paid out dividends or bonuses.

    “If we were to make the assumption that the dividends and bonuses are divided equally among the scheme participants, each participant would receive about RM1,932,” he added.

    Divide that by 10 years, he said, each participant would only get RM193 per year. This, he added, is a far cry from the government’s promise that the scheme would uplift the socio-economic status of the Dayaks.

    Snek Bagat, one of the residents of Rumah Ranggong, said: “I was looking forward to receiving the dividends and bonuses from our investment (in the JV project). But I was shocked to find out that our investment only yielded 50 cents per month after 10 years. Not enough to buy a cup of coffee.”

    Why the sudden need to do so?

    Meanwhile, Bujang questioned the need to hand out dividends and bonuses after 10 years. “Why does the government and the JV company have a sudden interest with the NCR landowners after they have been neglected all these while?” “Is it because that the community of Rumah Belili and Rumah Ranggong are suing the private investor BLD Resources Sdn. Bhd. for not keeping its end of the bargain?” he asked.

    Previously, in 1999, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between BLD Sdn. Bhd (sister company of BLD Resources), Sarawak Land Development Board (SLDB) and the NCR landowners at Ulu Niah, where Rumah Belili and Rumah Ranggong were the participating longhouses, to develop the Ulu Niah NCR land based on the ‘konsep baru’ scheme. Jabu and the then Sarawak Minister for Housing Celestine Ujang handed out the 10 percent upfront payment worth RM294,990 in 2001.

    However, in 2008, a resident of Rumah Ranggong, Changgai Dali was sued by BLD Resources for allegedly trespassing into BLD’s plantation. When Changgai and his longhouse folks disputed this they discovered to their horror that their NCR JV project was cancelled – reason given was the government made a mistake saying the land is NCR.

    Commenting on the dividends and bonuses received, Changgai said: “We thank Jabu for handing out the dividends and bonuses to us, but we are not happy with the amount.” “How come after all these years, this is all we get? Jabu not once mentioned the status of our land during the ceremony. When I asked Jabu if he could withdraw the provisional lease of the company, he replied that he does not have the authority,” he added.

    Problems in other schemes

    In another case, Jabu also handed out dividends amounting to RM52 million to 16,480 participants for the year 2008 in another NCR land development scheme managed by another state government agency, the Sarawak Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority (Salcra), where Jabu is also its chairman.

    According to an article sourced from a blogsite, Anilnetto.com, Salcra should have netted profits amounting to RM292 million for 2008 taking into account the price of oil palm that year. Jabu announced that another RM22 million had been set aside for loan repayments.

    The article went on to say that the net balance after dividends and loan repayments should have amounted to RM218 million, or RM13,240 per participant. The article questioned Salcra on where the balance of the money went. The article went on to state that even if 50 percent is withheld to allow for reinvestment and replanting, that would still amount to RM109 million or RM6,620 per participant to be accounted for.

    In another NCR JV scheme in Suai, Miri Division, the Penans from Kampung Ugos threatened to withdraw from the said scheme launched by Jabu himself in 1998 if the state government agency the Sarawak Land Development Board (SLDB) did not disclose transparently the official documents, records, JV agreements and statement of accounts of the company.

    The Penans also complained that they do not know how SLDB arrived at the amount of dividends paid which is exactly RM500,000 and they do not know which private investor company is in the JV. Some of the scheme participants have died not knowing what will happen to their land and their investment.