Hornbill Unleashed

February 12, 2012

BBC Apology Vindicates Sarawak Report, So What About Bakun?

Sarawak Report

BBC has accepted the investigation by Sarawak Report was true

BN mouthpieces, such as the Borneo Post, have been working hard to discredit the integrity of Sarawak Report and all our investigations, revealing the corruption behind the destruction of the Borneo Rainforest and its peoples.

They refer to mysterious “hidden agendas” and have quoted accusations that we are producing “baseless and mischievous” information resting on “dubious sources making several erroneous statements and allegations”.

However, the world’s highly respected media organisation, the BBC, has today issued a statement acknowledging the truth of one of Sarawak Report’s recent investigations, regarding the UK production company FBC Media.

As we have revealed, FBC was hired by Taib Mahmud on a USD$5million a year contract, specifically to counter our allegations.  A copy showing the full details of that contract is available on our website.  It forms just part of our large body of documentation showing corruption on the part of Taib Mahmud.

So who do you believe, The BBC or the Taib-controlled Borneo Post?

In a world-wide apology, being broadcast four times across the BBC World channel today (Saturday) and expected to reach some 300 million viewers, the BBC has admitted that it was taken in by FBC Media, which was hired by Taib and also by Najib to put out false propaganda on what were supposed to be regular news shows.

After a full investigation the BBC has acknowledged that Sarawak Report’s expose showing that FBC Media had been hired by Taib and Najib was true!

The statement goes on to admit:

“In the case of eight other programmes, all of which featured Malaysia, we found that the production company which made the programmes appeared to have a financial relationship with the Malaysian Government. This meant there was a potential conflict of interest, though the BBC was not aware of it when the programmes were broadcast.”[BBC Trust Website 11/02/12]

Najib enjoying BBC publicity on a World Debate organised by his hired PR company FBC Media

The BBC’s discovery was based on the information that we revealed first here on Sarawak Report (and which we also passed on to the UK’s Independent newspaper), showing that the Malaysian PM’s own office had also paid FBC a total RM94million to promote BN and Malaysia’s oil palm industry on news shows that it was producing for the BBC, CNBC and CNN.

The UK’s regulator, Ofcom, is still investigating these wider issues with regard to CNBC and CNN.  However the BBC has moved fast to acknowledge that BBC programme commissioners may have been tempted by the ‘nominal prices’ of the shows that FBC were offering on the subject of Malaysia and then Sarawak.

Programmes for just RM5!

We have established that the BBC put up their hands when top management discovered to their embarrassment that the programmes we had identified promoting Malaysia and the oil palm industry (Sime Darby and Iskandar included) had in fact been commissioned from FBC for the cost of just £1.00 (RM5.00) each.

Working for Malaysia

This may have been helpful for the BBC’s budgets, but the managers responsible must have been aware that FBC had to be finding their true payment elsewhere.  The corporation has now announced a complete overhaul of their commissioning processes to avoid any future such scandals.

Meanwhile, as a further sign of their own lack of integrity, FBC Media had initially denied outright that they had been hired by Taib and Najib.  Their lawyers, the firm Peter Carter Ruck, claimed that FBC “never had any dealings with any government, including Malaysia”!

Such claims totally conflict with the mass of internal documents that Sarawak Report has now acquired, including this power point presentation by FBC Media:

The truth – and evidence to back it up!

So, when it comes to integrity and the truth, do you believe the Borneo Post, FBC Media and other Malaysian government controlled media outlets, or do you believe Sarawak Report and the BBC?

Sarawak Report has brought evidence to back its investigations, which all readers can see and check on for themselves.  And the BBC immediately put things right when they discovered that Malaysians had managed to corrupt its service.

Questions for CNBC and CNN

Najib was frequently promoted on FBC’s World Business show for CNBC

However, questions still remain unanswered by both CNBC and CNN.  Sarawak Report has evidence that CNBC not only received FBC programmes for cheap, but actually chargedFBC Media for the privilege of being able to use its programme platform, World Business, to promote its clients.

CNBC should have been paying FBC Media to make this ‘editorial news and current affairs show’, but it turns out they were demandingsome RM10million ringgit from FBC Media instead!

The staff in CNBC who were responsible for this arrangement will, therefore, have been plainly condoning FBC’s use of sponsors to pay for their biased programming, which is strictly illegal and forbidden both in the UK and in the company’s US base.

Defterios reports for CNN in Kuala Lumpur about Najib’s pet subject, the ‘Islamic market’

So, now that the BBC has come clean, is CNBC going to own up too – or are they going to hope that the UK regulator Ofcom will let them off the hook when it completes its own investigations?

Meanwhile, CNN are also trying to ignore the evidence of corruption surrounding their favoured broadcaster John Defterios, who for many years was President of FBC Media. There is now plenty of documentation that shows how Mr Defterios was willing to abuse his position as a broadcaster to serve his PR clients at FBC.

Is CNN going to continue to refuse to investigate this matter and likewise hope that Ofcom will let them off the hook?

Bakun Dam

So, when it comes to the integrity of evidence-based reporting does one trust the BBC and Sarawak Report or the likes of the Borneo Post, which has accused Sarawak Report of publishing false concerns about the construction of the Bakun Dam?

We have supplied video evidence provided by informed insiders, who were concerned about corner-cutting by workers on the dam, including the widespread practice of watering down the concrete used on the main structural face.  Here it is:

Now, given that this is clearly the Bakun Dam site and that you can see workers putting water hoses into the cement mixer, is it not right that we should ask for this information to be taken seriously, especially as it was given to us by a highly reputable source?

Yet, it has been dismissed as “irresponsible” and “erroneous” by such outfits as the Borneo Post.  Why?

Official document citing watering of cement at the Bakun Dam

Shouldn’t the authorities consider taking our evidence even more seriously on the basis that our information also includes stamped documents showing that batches of cement were rejected by quality controllers, because they had been watered down in exactly this way?

And is it not significant that the UK dam expert we spoke to in our investigation confirmed that workers on dams are well known to be tempted to water the cement, unless they are watched over like hawks by an adequate number of quality controllers?

The Borneo Post, in its attack on our report, quoted Sarawak Hydro Chief Zulkifle Osman:

“All cement and concrete samplings were witnessed by Sarawak Hydro’s quality controllers and accordingly approved. The article [Sarawak Report] is irresponsible and cites dubious sources making several erroneous statements and allegations,”

However, since our information is that there were only three quality controllers employed on the entire site, is it not worth listening to the assessment of the international British dam expert, whom we consulted?  He was adamant that three quality controllers is not nearly enough to keep an eye on such a massive construction area.

At it again? What is that guy doing with the hose?

Sarawak Report is not saying that the Bakun Dam is dangerous and we have no evidence as to whether the rumours about cracks having already appeared in the cement are true.

However, given our strong video evidence, our established integrity and the fact that the Borneo Post is a slavish mouthpiece for CM Taib Mahmud (who corruptly made so much money from providing the cement for the dam through his own company CMS), we think that our concerns about its construction should not be so readily dismissed.


To put concerns to rest it is time for some openness on the part of the authorities.  We need to see the outcome of all the tests and safety assessments that have been made on the world’s second largest dam as it has filled over the last year.

David Crean of Hydro Tas and Awang Tenggah last year. Objective relationship?

Hydro-Tasmania is one Australian company that has been brought in to give the situation the all clear, through its subsidiary Entura.  However, how about showing some rather more independent and third party assessments?

After all, Hydro-Tasmania is already involved in the construction of the Murum Dam, which was started illegally and in secret and worked on for two whole years before being discovered!

Hydro-Tasmania is also pushing keenly to get involved in all the other dams that Taib is hoping to flood Sarawak with over the next few years for his ‘Score’ mega-projects.

And, back home in Tasmania, Hydro-Tasmania is supported by the same set of state politicians, who have been vocal in supporting Taib’s cousin, Hamed Sepawi’s company Ta Ann, in its logging of the island’s native forest reserves, despite growing concern from local people and tree-top protests.

Onlookers have become concerned at the possibility of a tit for tat deal with Taib family interests in Tasmania, so is Hydro-Tasmania a suitable and objective company to be testing Bakun’s safety?

And if it is, is this statement on the Hydro-Tasmania’s website sufficient reassurance for Sarawakians who have been forced off their lands to live downstream?:

“The risks identified by the study may all be mitigated, by various means and effort, to successfully deliver a commercially operational power station.”[Entura statement on Bakun]

The people of Sarawak are entitled to know what ‘risks’ and what ‘mitigations’ are being referred to.  Evidence and information is what is needed, not more brush offs.



  1. Bakun Dam impoundment lead to Rejang river dried-up causing hardship to the Kapit Baleh dayak folks…so who to blame?

    Blame Larry Sng?

    Or blame James Masing the early research scientists team for Bakun Dam study way back in 1980s?

    30,000 cut off as river runs dry
    James Masing: “When he(Larry Sng) was still in office, he should have the foresight and anticipation to address the issues then and not waiting for the problem to arise.”
    by Peter Sibon and Wilfred Pilo, Borneo Post Saturday August 20, 2011

    Impoundment and weather deplete once mighty Rajang isolating the people living along it

    KUCHING: About 30,000 people who live along the Rajang River between Kapit and Belaga are now cut off from the outside world as the river, their only means of transport to the towns, is too shallow to navigate.

    Minister of Land Development Tan Sri Dr James Masing who disclosed the plight of the people there to The Borneo Post yesterday said the low water level was caused by the impoundment of the Bakun hydroelectric (HEP) dam upriver since October last year and was compounded by the current dry spell.

    “The people are in dire straits and it is difficult to navigate the river now and it could eventually come to a standstill.

    “I anticipate this problem will persist for another year or so and we cannot allow the people to suffer that long,” said the Baleh assemblyman.

    Masing’s pessimism is well founded as the management of Bakun Hydro Electric dam, when contacted yesterday, said they could only anticipate releasing the water through the spillways in October.

    However, this is dependent on the water level reaching the desired level in the dam.

    Masing felt that this situation should have been anticipated and remedial measures planned before the situation deteriorated to this present state.

    He added that former Pelagus assemblyman Larry Sng who represented the affected people in that area before the last state election should have the foresight to see the problems arising now and planned accordingly.

    He pointed out that Sng who was also an assistant minister in the Chief Minister’s Department in-charge of economy and planning should have done what was necessary to avert the present situation.

    “When he was still in office, he should have the foresight and anticipation to address the issues then and not waiting for the problem to arise.”

    The last extreme low water level in the area was recorded in October last year when river transport in the upper reaches of the Rajang, including the stretch from Pelagus to Belaga, affecting the transportation of passengers, essential goods to the interior, school rations and medical supplies for about a month.

    Meanwhile, a spokesman of the Kapit District Office said the people who usually took a short river trip from Kapit to Belaga were forced to travel down river to Sibu before going to Belaga by road via Bintulu – an arduous and expensive route.

    Transportation is not the only woe the people in the area are facing because of the low water level and dry spell.

    The spokesman also revealed that some 6,700 people living in Nanga Merit were now facing problems getting fresh water because their gravity feed pipes had dried up.

    “They have to resort to using tube wells to get fresh water for their daily consumption,” revealed the spokesman.

    The consolation for Nanga Merit residents is that they are linked to Kapit by logging roads and can still reach there by small boats although the fare is RM50 per head.

    Masing pleads ‘not guilty’ over indigenous displacement
    Malaysia Kini, 21 March 2009

    …Sarawak Land Development Minister James Masing told a TV news channel Al-Jazeera that he has absolutely no guilt over the displacement of indigenous people caused by the construction of hydro-electric dams in the state.

    …“I don’t feel guilty. I feel that is the correct way of doing it. I don’t have any guilt feeling for trying to help my people,” said Masing on the Al-Jazeera’s 101 East programme Thursday night.

    …Host Fauziah Ibrahim had asked Masing if he felt guilty, as a person of indigenous descent, over indigenous people being displaced to make way for economic development.

    ….Fauziah Ibrahim asked – “And what about the indigenous people that lived there? They lost their livelihoods, they lost their homes…”

    …James Masing replied – “Well, not quite lose their home…they are resettled and have them moved to new areas which has have trend toward modern development and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

    …Fauziah Ibrahim asked – “Were they consulted though? Many of them are unhappy that they have been moved. They had no say about this move and they lost their traditional way of life.”

    …James Masing replied – “That is not quite correct. I was one of the social scientist that did the survey prior to the Bakun dam and I spend a few years with consultants from overseas try to work out to make sure that they’re resettled in areas which they have the say in it and they have consulted and the fact that the longhouses that we built in Bakun are in fact are joint venture effort between the government and the people who were resettled and that is why they are still staying in the longhouses with the difference.”

    …Fauziah Ibrahim asked – “Do you feel guilty that as an indigenous person that these people have been displaced for economic reasons..?”

    …James Masing replied – “I feel that is the correct way of doing it…I don’t have any guilt feeling for trying to help my people, no I don’t have.”…

    Comment by Kamus — February 13, 2012 @ 1:09 PM | Reply

  2. Friends told me, the Sarawak CM and his cronies live in giant mansions, and everywhere you go you see Naim’s ( Hamed Sepawie) big projects. For 45 years thousands of shiploads of timber & palm oil left Sarawak…. If this not corruption & crime, what is?
    Since Sarawakians are so self-centred, gullible, gutless, and resigned to looking up to a super-wicked criminal and his cronies. Many are now resigned to the hopelessness that prevails in Sarawak.
    Let God deal with them now, in life, in heaven or hell. Let God’s curse come upon them sooner or later. Taib, family members, Hamed Sepawie, Awang Tengah, Asfia Nassar, Len Talip. Jabu, James Masing………..the list is endless. You have stolen billions and destroyed the welfare of millions. You haven’t experienced hell’s fire yet, by then it’s too late.

    Comment by Alan Newman. NZ — February 12, 2012 @ 9:22 PM | Reply

  3. Let’s hail the upcoming, giant task of MoCs, quote: “We are compiling the ‘misdeeds’ of several top civil servants in Sarawak and these people have to be brought to justice in due course. We want a clean civil service and is adamant to see that only incorruptible, competent and men and women of integrity and substance head the various state departments….in our drive against graft in the new term, MoCS will establish its Anti-Corruption Committee”

    Comment by Alan Newman. NZ — February 12, 2012 @ 9:22 PM | Reply

  4. At last the truth is revealed. So what else can we believe from UMNO/BN/PBB. They’re the great liars. Taib n Najib are same specis. The termites.

    Comment by Buduk — February 12, 2012 @ 5:19 PM | Reply

  5. The natives are taking KTS group owner of Borneo Post, and Sarawak government to court for encroaching into NCR land and felling timbers therein for sale and having replanted their land with oil palms.

    Comment by Ismawai Salleh — February 12, 2012 @ 5:16 PM | Reply

  6. Well done Sarawak Report – good investigative reporting. A different universe from Borneo Pose

    Comment by Analist — February 12, 2012 @ 1:57 PM | Reply

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