Rainforest Tribunal - BMF's Indictment on Taib Mahmud

Rainforest Tribunal - BMF's Indictment on Taib Mahmud

In place of the officially inspired tributes on the recent passing of Sarawak’s Governor, which mainly glossed over the corruption, cruelty and destruction of his five decades in office, the Swiss NGO the Bruno Manser Fund have issued a new documentary – The Rainforest Tribunal.

The 40 minute film which is available online focuses on the court case brought against the charity by Taib’s daughter, Jamilah, and son-in-law, Sean Murray, who manage a powerful property empire in Canada.

The couple have objected to BMF, Sarawak Report and others pointing out that this and other foreign holdings of the Taib family have been funded by Taib’s unexplained wealth as the man who issued all the licences for the destruction of the rainforest and eviction of the Native Customary Landowners whose rights were brushed aside.

In 2018 the couple sued BMF in Switzerland demanding that the NGO remove all its information published about the Taib family from the public domain. The case has been widely denounced as a so-called SLAPP suit designed to bully the NGO to remove public interest information and intimidate others.

The fund, which was set up in memory of the Swiss environmentalist Bruno Manser, who battled with the Penan tribespeople to keep the natives off their lands, has refused to budge resulting in a ruinously expensive and protracted case that is finally due to come to judgement in the next few months.

Witnesses could not give their own public evidence on Taib in the Swiss court, therefore the NGO set up their own parallel tribunal to bring information about what Taib did to the people and forests of Sarawak and how that abuse of office lay behind his great fortune and that of his family.

Take a look and reflect on what the real legacy of the so-called ‘Father of Modern Sarawak’ (or rather ‘Godfather’) is all about.

Thanks to a wave of public support and donations the campaign has managed to fund its defence. However, should the Swiss courts decide there is insufficient evidence to support its condemnation of Taib and his wealthy family, the penalty could be high indeed.

Although it would be nothing like that paid by the impoverished indigenous peoples whom Taib was entrusted to govern.


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