Hornbill Unleashed

March 11, 2011

Timber ‘thief’ STIDC colluding with Taib

FMT Staff

Sarawak Timber Industry Development Corporation is not all that it appears to be, discovers University of Berne researcher Daniel Faeh.

Set up in 1973 on the recommendation of the United Nations following its inventory study of the rainforest, Sarawak Timber Industry Development Corporation (STIDC) is today an alleged “thief” colluding with Chief Minister Taib Mahmud and spawning a tight circle of callous and corrupt timber conglomerates.

In a shocking revelation, Berne University researcher Daniel Faeh disclosed the “complex structure” of Sarawak’s timber industry and “its intimate links” to Taib.

He identified STIDC as “Sarawak’s seventh major timber group” behind controversial logging concessionaires Samling and Rimbunan Hijau, WTK, KTS, Shin Yang and Ta Ann.

Ta Ann, incidentally, is one of the 49 Taib-linked companies named in Swiss-based Bruno Manser Fund’s (BMF) blacklist of firms spanning eight countries.

BMF has called on the respective governments to freeze Taib’s assets estimated to be worth hundreds of billions of US dollars which they alleged were derived from massive raping of the state rainforest and injustices meted out to the indigenous communities.

According to Faeh, the supposedly “independent” STIDC, which was set up to oversee the guided development of the timber industry in the state, is “unable to exercise” its regulatory role.

“The independent controlling functions of STIDC (illegal logging, import and export duties) can be very much questioned on account of its conflicting business interests (timber concessions, logging and manufacturing activities),” he notes.

Taib’s hand

According to STIDC website, its board of management is headed by State Planning and Resources Management Minister (II) Awang Tengah Ali Hassan.

Awang Tengah is aided by his ministry’s permanent secretary Wan Alwi Wan Hashim and the State Financial Secretary Ahmad Tarmizi Sulaiman.

Taib holds the reins of both the Planning and Resources Management as well the Finance Ministries.

Faeh’s study entitled “Development of global timber tycoons in Sarawak, East Malaysia – History and company profiles” examines the the development of Sarawak’s timber during the past 30 years, which incidentally parallels Taib’s term in office as chief minister.

The study, which was released by BMF yesterday, identifies “the specific politico-economic situation in Sarawak” as the main driver behind the state’s rapid deforestation.

It particularly notes that Taib as Planning and Resource Management Minister “has absolute control over the allocation of timber licences and logging concessions to himself, his allies, friends and family”.

According to BMF, Sarawak’s timber industry is a cause for global concern.

The deforestation issue came to the fore way back in the 1980s when environmentalists and human rights groups realised the rapid log clearances in Sarawak.

‘Politics of development’

Taib came to power in 1981 and in the early 1990s, he launched his “politics of development” agenda for Sarawak, which saw him amend the Land Code to allegedly enable the transfer, leasing and conversion of native-owned lands in the name of growth.

Taib’s “politics of development” policies, however, never quite filtered down to the natives and instead more and more cases of land grabs and injustices against the state indigenous communities came to light.

According to Faeh, when it came to “land allocation, land tenure and native customary rights”, Sarawak still “lacks transparency and legitimacy”.

“As a result, it is not surprising that the land claims of local indigenous groups have been systematically neglected,” he wrote.

In contrast, Taib and STIDC-aided conglomerates have enjoyed massive windfalls accumulated by destructive logging on native turf.

Said Faeh: “Timber groups from Sarawak such as Samling, Rimbunan Hijau, WTK, KTS, Shin Yang and Ta Ann accumulated capital which allowed them to expand their business operations all over the globe.

“They are now operating not only in Southeast Asia but also in Australia, Africa, Central and South America, Russia and the Pacific.

“Their track records of diversification and internationalisation, however, go hand in hand with the violation of human rights, political patronage and the destruction of the environment in their home country and many other parts of the world.”

BMF notes that in terms of their size, as in their timber concessions, Samling leads the group with over 1.3 million hectares worth of logging.

A close second is Rimbunan Hijau (over one million hectares) followed by WTK group (850,000 hectares) and the Ta Ann group (over 557,000 hectares).

“Two other major players, the KTS group and the Shin Yang group, cannot be ranked due to insufficient transparency with regard to the concessions held by them.

“All these timber groups also hold major oil palm plantation landbanks,” BMF said.

Rich, callous conglomerates

BMF also identified the key timber tycoons who are ranked among Malaysia’s top 30 richest people.

They are Rimbunan Hijau’s Tiong Hiew King, Samling Group’s Yaw Teck Seng and Yaw Chee Ming and Ta Ann’s chairman Abdul Hamed Sepawi.

Hamed incidentally is also Taib’s first cousin.

This wealth, the study notes, was derived by causing severe environmental damage in not just Sarawak but in several other countries as well.

Samling Group, for ,instance was recently blacklisted by the Norwegian government because of its “long track record of illegal logging and (causing) severe environmental damage in Cambodia, Guyana, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Sarawak.

Rimbunan Hijau, which shares Samling’s track record, is also “notorious for human rights abuse, and the violation of the indigenous peoples’ rights”.

WKT has been accused of illegally logging indigenous peoples’ lands in the Amazon, while the Ta Ann group is involved in the highly controversial logging of old-growth temperate rainforests in the Australian state of Tasmania.

KTS, which expanded its reach into the media sector, allegedly uses these channels to “successfully distort and suppress” local concerns over the Sarawak timber and plantation industry.

The Shin Yang group in involved in logging and shipping and is also “aggressively venturing” into the oil palm sector.

Taib and or his family members are allegedly involved, in one way or the other, in these companies.



  1. Very descriptive blog, I liked that a lot. Will there be a part 2?

    Comment by ティンバーランド アウトレット — October 11, 2012 @ 6:37 PM | Reply

  2. Just to name a few: STIDC, SEDC, SARAWAK ENERGY…the list could go on & on…all of the semi-government corporations are within the grip of Taik Mamut & his cronies for years…!!! This evil has been in control for all Sarawak’s wealth.

    As in terms of human rights & environments violation, I still wonder why UN does not take any action against this culprit & all of his allies. If they did, Pek Mo & friends’ assholes definitely will be ripped apart long time ago.

    Still, it’s better late than never. Thanks to BMF because their effort can drag attention from international community, organizations & activists so that these people can see how FUCKED UP the Sarawakian Natives & our landscapes are right now.

    Taib & the gang, do you guys feel FUCKED UP very hard now? It’s become “hotter” now 🙂 LOL…

    Comment by Pusu, Belachan & Tempoyak Goreng — March 11, 2011 @ 1:05 AM | Reply

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