'Scrooge Samling' Pleads Poverty At Christmas To Cut Off Jungle Community Payments

'Scrooge Samling' Pleads Poverty At Christmas To Cut Off Jungle Community Payments

Sarawak Report has received a copy of a shocking letter that has apparently been sent to the local communities of Baram, Lawas and Belaga dated 7th December by Samling Timber Sdn Bhd.

In the run up to Christmas this missive is addressed “To Whom It May Concern” and entitled “Termination of Syarikat Samling Timber (SST) Sdn Bed’s Cash Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

It warns all the recipients that the company will cease to provide any further cash support to those communities that have been affected by its logging activities in their lands.

Sarawak Report has not immediately heard back from the company after applying for confirmation that this letter is genuine.

We will update readers on any response received, bearing in mind that relations are at rock bottom between the company and these communities, and supporting NGOs, after Samling withdrew its notorious defamation case seeking major damages against them earlier in the year.

The SLAPP suit was criticised for seeking to silence complaints about their methods.

Letter addressed by Samling to Forest Communities in their logging concessions this Christmas

Letter addressed by Samling to Forest Communities in their logging concessions this Christmas

If the above is a genuine letter from the global timber, plantation and heavy industries conglomerate, then the company will have achieved further depths of ignominy and should surely be stripped of all the timber licences covering huge regions of Sarawak that have been generously renewed by the state government.

As a horribly timed kick in the teeth just before Christmas, the impersonal memo addressed simply to all the communities in those areas which have been ravaged by Samling’s logging operations for the past decades, informs that the company will no longer be offering “Goodwill contributions” to the impoverished people whose lives have been devastated by the destruction of their lands.

Essentially, having run off with the billions of dollars worth of profits from extracting timber in the region Samling is apparently no longer prepared to offer the token payments they had previously offered in the name of ‘Corporate & Social Responsibility’ (CSR) to the affected communities to minimise protest.

Although the timing of this brutal gesture could not have been worse in the run up to Christmas, with an air of magnanimity the company assures the recipients that there will be one last payment before the holy festival  – thereby providing just one month’s notice before ceasing the cash lifeline in January.

With a smug irony the company concludes that it wishes to “take the opportunity to wish each and everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2024″.  

Ha Ha?

Why Are The Communities Not Already Rich?

It is worth remembering at this juncture that this company, which has been globally condemned for its environmentally destructive, dangerous and rapacious logging methods, was handed the licences decades ago in the name of “progress’.

Their logging was promoted by the crony political parties who still run the state as a path to development for the local people (who were given no choice in the matter and whose protests were brutally suppressed).

It was promised that the profits from timber would be channelled into roads and utilities and wealth for the native landowners. In fact, of course, the people gained virtually none of the benefit of that massive extraction of this valuable resource from their lands nor from the square miles of plantations established in its stead.

Neither has the state received much profit either to channel into public services, given the accounts put in by Sarawak’s timber giants have notoriously failed to declare significant profits over the decades that could be taxed!

How all Sarawak’s leading politicians have allowed themselves to be satisfied by such a disgraceful state of affairs raises considerable questions.

One can only come to certain conclusions based on the immense and ostentatious wealth of families such as that of Governor Abdul Taib Mahmud, who presided over this entire disaster along with a coterie of political cronies from PBB/GPS for all those decades.

After all, the official salaries of these politicians do not explain such wealth.

TOO POOR – “Cash Strapped” Samling!

The only entities known to be even richer are the timber tycoons themselves. Nevertheless, this Christmas Scrooge behaviour by Samling has staggeringly been conducted in the name of poverty!

According to the missive apparently sent by Samling, the reason for this cessation of support has nothing to do with spite or sour grapes after being forced to stand down their vicious libel action against local NGOs and forest defenders.

The reason instead is that Samling is allegedly “Cash Strapped”!

“We wish to formally notify the communities that due to Samling’s poor financial situation, it is with deep regret that Samling has decided to cease all of its cash Goodwill (GW) contributions within the Company’s three regions, namely Baram, Lawas and Belaga wef [with effect from] January 2024.”

The letter sanctimoniously explains.

To answer this claim one need look no further than the Forbes Rich List published earlier in the year which features the Yaw family (owners of this family firm) as being among the top ten wealthiest individuals in Malaysia with a net worth of US$1.25 billion.

  • Father and son, Yaw Teck Seng and Yaw Chee Ming (pictured), run forestry, rubber and property group Samling Strategic Corp.
  • The company has 17,000 employees from Asia to North America.
  • Teck Seng started the privately held group in 1963.
  • Its property business has built Desa ParkCity township in Kuala Lumpur.

These scrooges already owe the people of Sarawak proper restitution for the timber wealth siphoned from native lands in return for none of the development that was promised.

If this latest alleged insult turns out to be true, with the removal of CSR as a Christmas time kick in the teeth to the nation’s poorest people in the name of a “poor financial situation”, this super-wealthy family and their string of companies will deserve and receive even more global opprobrium than has already come their way.

If the missive is not true then Samling must act urgently to reassure the poor communities, who rely on every penny they can get, that the company will continue to provide this bare minimum restitution in the name of CSR for the period of their licences.

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