The Taib Timber Mafia - Facts and Figures on Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs) from Sarawak, Malaysia report by Bruno Manser Fund is now out.
Sarawak, an environmental crime hotspot
Sarawak is the largest of Malaysia’s thirteen States and one of two States located on the island of Borneo. Sarawak is located immediately north of the Equator between latitude 0° 50° and 5°N and longitude 109° 36' and 115° 40' E. It stretches some 800 kilometres along the northwest coast of Borneo, covering an area of 124,449.51 square kilometres.
The rainforest of Borneo is acknowledged to be among the “worlds most distinct and speciesrich”, a hotspot of biodiversity. Sarawak is divided into three regions - coastal lowlands comprising peat swamp as well as narrow deltaic and alluvial plains; a large region of undulating hills ranging to about 300 metres; and the mountain highlands extending to the Kalimantan border.
The highest point of Sarawak is Mount Murud reaching 2,423 meters. Flora in Sarawak includes roughly 8,000 species of vascular plants, 2,000 tree species, 1,000 orchids, 757 ferns and 260 species of palm. Fauna in Sarawak includes roughly 185 species of mammal, 530 species of bird, 186 species of snake, 104 species of lizard and 113 species of amphibian.
Sarawak has a population of over 2.4 million and is a multicultural state with at least 27 ethnic groups, the largest of these being the Iban. The people of Sarawak practice a variety of religions including, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, ancestor worship, Baha'ism and animism.
Unlike the Malaysian states on the Malaysian peninsula, where Islam is the predominant faith, the largest religious group in Sarawak are the Christians.
Despite being described in tourism ads as a “vast wilderness” Sarawak’s lush tropical rainforests are disappearing at an astonishing rate. Former Prime Minister of England, Gordon Brown stated in 2011 that the destruction of Sarawak’s rainforest is “probably the biggest environmental crime of our times…Malaysia's once vast pristine jungle has been stripped bare and enormous areas have been planted with oil palm in an environmental nightmare that shows no sign of slowing.”
In February 2011, the Dutch NGO “Wetlands International” expressed their concern that “As the timber resource has been depleted, the timber companies are now engaging in the oil palm business, completing the annihilation of Sarawak’s peat swamp forests.”
Total deforestation in Sarawak is 3.5 times as much as that for entire Asia, while deforestation of peat swamp forest is 11.7 times as much.
The Sarawak State Planning Unit has openly expressed their intention to convert Native Customary Rights land to palm oil. In 2010, Minister for Land Development, James Masing stated that the government of Sarawak aims to convert a further 1 million hectares (2.5 million acres) of tropical forest to oil palm plantations by 2020 and that there is a need for “a more aggressive development” of Native Customary Rights land.
- “Stop Timber Corruption” Campaign
- The aim of Taib Timber Mafia report
- Sources used for Taib Timber Mafia
- The Taib family and modus operandi