We are a group of citizens and onlookers deeply concerned by the situation in Sarawak, East Malaysia.
In the league table of corrupt countries robbed by greedy rulers, Sarawak’s name must come very near the top in terms of the sheer magnitude of theft. And for nearly thirty years the reason has lain with one man, the billionaire Chief Minister, Abdul Taib Mahmud.
As the Mahmud family and their associates bask in extraordinary riches, with assets and properties strewn across the world, the ordinary people of Sarawak, Malaysia’s richest state, remain amongst its poorest inhabitants. The profits from timber, oil and now oil palm (much of it grown on land illegally sequestered from the indigenous communities) have gone straight into the pockets of the BN party cronies, who have run the country like a personal business and plundered it indiscriminately for the past four decades of continuous rule.
The once unparalleled tropical rainforests have been denuded – scarcely 3% remain uncut – and the tribal peoples who depended on the forests for their food are now deprived of their means of subsistence and starving. Development has been restricted to the coastal towns, home to the BN elites.
In Taib’s Sarawak there is no platform allowed for those who wish to bring this corruption to light and no voice given to the opposition parties, who are denied access to the state-controlled media. With an election looming, Sarawak Report exists to provide that platform and to offer an alternative vision of justice, transparency and a fairer future in Sarawak.