Friday, October 10, 2008

Is Taib Sarawak Or Is Sarawak Taib's?

Taib: Stop the 'lies' about Sarawak
Tony Thien | Oct 9, 08 10:55am Malaysiakini

Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud, usually cool in the face of criticism levelled at his government, has reacted badly to recent media reports about the eviction notice served to some 10,000 Kadayan-Malay villagers in Bekenu, near Miri and the alleged rape of Penan girls by logging company workers in the remote Baram area.

At a Hari Raya function in Miri on Monday, he said the reports were nothing but “lies” and demanded that the newspapers corrected them. The irate chief minister also warned that appropriate action would be taken against those who failed to apologise for the ‘false’ reports.

The Borneo Post, a leading local English daily, quoted the chief minister as saying that he regarded the media reports as acts of sabotage against the state.

“Check your information or you will be suspected by the decent people of Sarawak of trying to sabotage us when we have toiled to develop our state,” Taib said, in an apparent reference to reports published last week in both the Star and New Straits Times on the two issues.

Apart from The Borneo Post, several local Chinese dailies also published similar reports.

Local and national papers reported that a large group of Kadayan-Malay land-owners staged a ‘friendly protest’ after a legal firm, acting for a plantation company, last week issued notices seeking to evict them from their ancestral land which is now part of a provisional land lease issued to the company by the state government.

The company is said to be linked to a prominent Chinese businessman with powerful political connections in the state.

An Orang Ulu lawyer acting for some of the aggrieved native customary rights (NCR) landowners told Malaysiakini today that the case has been filed and will be heard in court soon.

Irate chief minister

Taib’s initial reaction to the reports on the protest by the Kadayan-Malay landowners surprised many as he was quoted by local newspapers as saying then that if the land-owners wanted to play rough with him, he was ready to do the same with them, adding that whether they liked it or not, here in Sarawak “I am the government”.

It was initially reported that the chief minister would hold a dialogue with the landowners but yesterday the chief minister changed his mind and instead dispatched his Assistant Land Minister Naroden Majais to meet representatives of the Kadayan-Malay community, led by Pemanca Abu Bakar Pangis, to find ways to resolve the land dispute.

After the meeting, the assistant minister told reporters that the villagers and the Land and Survey Department would carry out a joint survey to determine the location of the NCR land in relation to the leased land. The land lease covers about 5,000 acres and is prime agricultural land.

At another function in Betong yesterday, Taib again lashed out at the newspaper reports, calling them “acts of sabotage” which Sarawakians should ignore as they were written by journalists who had little or no knowledge of the state.

The Borneo Post today quoted him in a front page report as saying, “I have a heavy responsibility looking after the welfare of the people and will not allow the freedom of some newspapers to disrupt our progress and racial harmony.

‘We need to protect Sarawak from some irresponsible people. To protect our political stability, we must work together,” he was reported as saying.

Shocked by ‘sheer arrogance’

Meanwhile, Sarawak PKR legal advisor See Chee How said Taib’s comments were made out of “sheer arrogance”, adding that he was shocked and disappointed with the response of Sarawak BN leaders to the issues brought up by the media.

“Any reasonable government would appreciate the efforts of journalists and newspapers who have the courage to assist in the exposure of these heinous crimes,” said See when contacted by Malaysiakini today. “But unfortunately, the Sarawak government is in a state of denial by dismissing any truth in the published reports.

See said the Sarawak government should assist and facilitate a national effort to investigate the allegations.

“We are talking about the sexual abuse of teenaged school girls,” he said referring to the alleged sexual abuse of Penan girls by logging company workers operating near Penan settlements.

See opined that one of the reasons why the victims have yet to come forward to lodge police reports could be their distrust of law enforcement agencies in Sarawak.

“I do not blame them, considering the circumstances they are in. Before any investigation was carried out, the Marudi district police chief Jonathan Jalin was already reported to be dismissing the allegations, saying that there was no evidence to support them.

“How can we expect a thorough and impartial investigation into the matter from the force in Sarawak which has already dismissed the allegations before any investigation has taken place?” he asked.

4 comments:

chapchai said...

Another dinosaur at the helm of power!

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Anonymous said...

It is time that Taib Mahmud should go. How much more of Sarawak's wealth must he rob from our Motherland to enrich himself and his family members? Sick and tired of his arrogance and of the peoples' blind support for him and to those in power!

Anonymous said...

Had it not been for ATM Sarawak would remain the the backwaters. Infact ATM had propelled Sarawak to what it is today.