Hornbill Unleashed

March 11, 2011

Taib committing the biggest environmental crime of our times, did he?

Gordon Brown in The Independent, UK

I have a declaration of interest to make at the outset. Clare Rewcastle is my sister-in-law. She is also a journalist who has had a lifelong fascination with the environment. She was busy raising a family – and was not hunting for the next big exposé. But, as she researched into the community where she had been brought up, she stumbled upon what is probably the biggest environmental crime of our times. 

Clare was born in Sarawak, a small state on the island of Borneo, and for the first eight years of her life, she attended the local primary school. She subsequently moved to the UK, and eventually became a journalist. Because of her connection to the country and track record covering green issues, she was invited to speak at an environment conference in Sarawak in 2005. After she addressed the meeting she was surrounded by local journalists and people pleading for help in publicising the plight of their country.

She knew that Sarawak was being deforested – over-logged – losing a full square mile a day. She also knew that Sarawak’s rate of depletion was estimated to be the fastest and worst in the world.

As one of the few outsiders keenly interested in Sarawak’s fate she then started to take a deeper interest in what was happening in the state. She found out about and then spoke to the Bruno Manser Foundation, a Swiss charity set up in memory of a Swiss environmentalist. As early as the 1980s, Manser had tried to draw the attention of the world to what was happening in Sarawak.

He engineered blockades, the plan being to hold up the lorries taking logs illegally stolen from the area. Manser had captured some international attention with his campaign, but ten years ago, in 2000, he mysteriously disappeared while in the jungle. Suspicions abound – but no one was able to discover what had happened to him.

Clare’s starting point was not suspicion of foul play, but simply a desire as a reporter to apply normal UK-style investigative journalism to events in Malaysia. But since her first forays into what has happened to the forests she has become persona non grata in Malaysia. She is now harassed whenever she visits the country. She has been told she is on a blacklist and will be watched. She has received death threats.

Nevertheless she has moved beyond just writing articles and in June 2010 set up a blog – http://www.sarawakreport.org – that answers the region’s need for news and explanation of what is happening. In December last year she also set up a radio station broadcasting similar facts and news to local people.

The cause that is so big and threatening is the wanton destruction of what was once the world’s best-preserved forest, the Borneo forest on both sides of the Indonesia-Malaysian border. This deforestation is responsible for more toxic emissions than the pollution spewed into the atmosphere by all the airlines in the world. In fact the Borneo rainforest, while once the best preserved of the world’s top three forests, is smaller than only the Amazon and the Congo basin. The rate of depletion is extraordinary: only five per cent of the primary forest is left where it was nearly 100 per cent untouched in the 1960s.

What Clare Rewcastle is exposing through her local informants is that over this period, particularly during the 1980s, 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. Deprived of their livelihoods, some of the world’s poorest people have been further impoverished by the deforestation.

The recent Sarawak Report exposes how pressures continue to force families to leave the forests and give up on their traditional livelihoods. These families are being pressed to accept “compensation”, often of only £80, for land whose wood is worth millions.

The courage being shown by local Sarawak people gives us all a chance to stop the destruction. If the world fails now we are not guilty simply of a sin of omission; we will be actively condoning the destruction of a nation’s future by people too greedy to see the trees for the wood.

Gordon Brown is the former Prime Minister. This series concludes tomorrow with the Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya.

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9 Comments »

  1. Ayamkurus needs to read more.

    The available options were not:

    -A- An Independent Sarawak with liberty and justice for all and racial harmony and boundless prosperity and cloudless sunsets

    or

    -B- Semi-Autonomous status within Malaysia

    The actual options were:

    – A – Being devoured by Indonesia and being ruled by the rapacious and unscrupulous Javanese [check out the joys the inhabitants of West Papua have experienced under Javanese rule.]

    or

    -B- As I just wrote a moment ago. Incorporation into Malaysia.

    Would Sarawak have been happier under the Indonesian flag?

    I doubt it greatly.

    Comment by Bill Corr — March 12, 2011 @ 11:53 PM | Reply

  2. So McBroon has an opinion about Sarawak?

    All those years in government and not one word; now this!

    McBroon is a shallow Caledonian charlatan who defended mass Third World immigration into the U.K. unscrupulously, sold off much of the nation’s gold reserves on a low market and publicly opined that “one contribution” that Asians in Britain [!] can make to their new home is lobbying the U.K. government to piss away yet more British taxpayers’ money on the bottomless money pits of the Third World.

    [i.e. gaze at the picture of the starving piccaninny, snivel like a Weeping Wendy, get out your chequebook and buy General Ngugu a new Mercedes]

    In foreign policy terms he is so far up Uncle Sam’s rectum that he can probably see daylight.

    I wouldn’t piss on him if he were on fire!

    Comment by Bill Corr — March 12, 2011 @ 11:45 PM | Reply

  3. BEFORE & AFTER 1963

    NO LAND NO HARVEST NO GAWAI!

    The above is being sms around and this below is the comparison being spread on the internet after a former Sabahan Human Rights leader was threatened by the authorities because he said “life was better before 1963”.

    Before 1963- Life was better for the natives they had plenty of land to grow food and built houses, clean water and rivers stocked with fish. Practically free! The land was filled with trees from the coast to the mountains.

    After Malaysia 1963- natives started to lose their land and became homeless, faced hunger, their water sources have been badly polluted all brought on by “development” and corruption and “independence in Malaysia”. The land was stripped bare of trees and turned into plantation colonies.

    Soon there will be NO LAND, NO HARVEST NO GAWAI

    Dayaks and all Sarawakians this is the bleak present and future you are facing!

    IT WOULD HAVE BEEN EVEN BETTER IF WE WERE NOT FORCED INTO MALAYSIA!

    Comment by Ayamkurus — March 11, 2011 @ 7:49 PM | Reply

  4. Britain has a moral obligation to its former colony, Sarawak and should freeze all the assets of Taib and his family with immediate effect.

    Comment by Irene Kana — March 11, 2011 @ 6:59 PM | Reply

  5. Taik Mamut has tarnished Sarawak & Malaysia images in the eyes of the world community. Sooner or later, this issue (deforestation / pwoer abuse / corruption) will getting louder & harder worldwide. Let’s wait & see how Pek Mo, his cronies & BN governments handle this pressure. Surely fucked up..!!!

    Comment by salaiBABIhutan — March 11, 2011 @ 6:58 PM | Reply

  6. Let’s not forget that perhaps the crown jewel of Akik taib’s ‘Politic of Debeloment’ gotta be ‘the biggest environmental crime of our times’:

    —————

    Fight for the Borneo rainforest: Gordon Brown celebrates the role of journalist Clare Rewcastle
    The Independent UK, Thursday 10 March 2011
    (www.independent.co.uk/environment/green-living/fight-for-the-borneo-rainforest-gordon-brown-celebrates-the-role-of-journalist-clare-rewcastle-2237427.html)

    ….I have a declaration of interest to make at the outset. Clare Rewcastle is my sister-in-law. She is also a journalist who has had a lifelong fascination with the environment. She was busy raising a family – and was not hunting for the next big exposé. But, as she researched into the community where she had been brought up, she stumbled upon what is probably the biggest environmental crime of our times.

    …The courage being shown by local Sarawak people gives us all a chance to stop the destruction. If the world fails now we are not guilty simply of a sin of omission; we will be actively condoning the destruction of a nation’s future by people too greedy to see the trees for the wood.

    —————-

    Taib still the No.1 choice
    Abdul Karim says PBB leaders all for him to continue as chief minister
    by Yunus Yussop, The Borneo Post, Wednesday 23 February 2011

    …Chief political secretary to the chief minister Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said Taib should be given the opportunity to be chief minister for another term because of his ability in designing and implementing the state’s development.

    …Abdul Karim, who is also a PBB supreme council member, said Taib was a politician willing to sacrifice his life for the welfare of the people.

    …“Pehin Sri (Taib) is like a jewel to the people of Sarawak and a leader who is very hard to find,” he said when asked to comment on Taib’s statement that he would retire after the state election at a function in Balingian recently.

    Comment by Dayak Mudah Lupa — March 11, 2011 @ 2:32 PM | Reply

    • Abdul Karim, who is also a PBB supreme council member, said Taib was a politician willing to sacrifice his life for the welfare of the people.

      No need to sacrifice his life, he is already old. Just give us the money to help the poor and to restore the environment.

      Comment by Christina S. Suntai — March 11, 2011 @ 11:09 PM | Reply

  7. This is good. It could have been better if Gordon Brown had said it or had done something against this biggest environmental crime while he was the PM.

    Comment by Apai John — March 11, 2011 @ 2:20 PM | Reply

    • Politics is a very interesting thing

      Comment by mike — March 11, 2011 @ 2:42 PM | Reply


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