|Chief Minister Taib Mahmud was met by demonstrators when he visited the UK last year. |
The President of the Swiss Confederation has ordered an investigation into the assets in Swiss banks of Sarawak’s notorious Chief Minister, Taib Mahmud.
Taib’s 30 year rule over Sarawak, in the Malaysian part of Borneo, has been beset by persistent and widespread allegations of corruption, much of it exposed in the website Sarawak Report. Taib’s rule has overseen the devastation of much of Sarawak’s forest.
In a letter to Swiss NGO Bruno Manser Fonds, who had raised the issue with the authorities, President Micheline Calmy-Rey emphasized the Swiss government’s commitment to fighting against corruption and the restitution of embezzled funds to respective countries.
She raised the possibility of freezing Taib’s assets and confirmed that she has passed the matter on to the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA), who investigate money laundering in Switzerland.
The Penan tribe have seen their forests devastated by logging companies licensed by Taib Mahmud’s government. Many of the companies have close links with the Chief Minister, his family and allies. The hunter-gatherer Penan rely on the forest for everything. As the forests are logged, the game is scared away, the rivers silt up and the sago and forest fruits are destroyed. Without these things the Penan cannot feed their families.
Taib Mahmud once described the Penan as behaving ‘like animals in the jungle’ and said they should be moved into the ‘mainstream’. History has shown that forcing tribal people from their land and imposing ‘development’ on them has devastating consequences.