Hornbill Unleashed

January 10, 2014

Taib turns back on Sjotveit?

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 3:00 AM
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Winston Way

Sarawak Energy Berhad CEO Torstein Dale Sjotveit was allegedly in Myanmar recently looking for a new job.

Has controversial Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) chief executive officer Torstein Dale Sjotveit become too ‘hot’ for Chief Minister Taib Mahmud?

Is that why this “fervent defender” of Taib has not managed to get his contract renewed beyond November 2014?

Speculations that Sjotveit will finish his term and leave began circulating late last year following his poor handling of the native issue in Murum and Baram dam projects.

Sjotveit failed to thwart growing agitation locally and abroad against the state government and SEB’s handling of the indigenous community displaced by the construction of hydropower dams.

Batang Ai and Bakun aside, Murum and now the proposed Baram dams are dragging on the state side.

His alleged arbitrary decision to impound Murum dam triggering a humanitarian crisis, even as the natives were still in negotiations with the relevant authorities had sparked worldwide response.

A grouping of more than 20 NGOs calling themselves The Borneo Project had presented letters to 15 Malaysian embassies aiming to shame image conscious Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak into intervening and “saving” the natives.

The blame fell on “bully” Sjotveit, who was hired by Taib in December 2009 for a whopping US$1.2 mil (RM3.6 mil) a year plus perks. His three year contract was later extended to November 2014.

According to Swiss based Bruno Manser Fund which leaked Sjotveit’s November 2014 exit, the Norwegian had been a “fervent defender of Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud’s controversial plans for 12 new hydropower dams in Sarawak”.

Sjotveit, it said, had constantly rebutted all criticism and “refused to enter into a meaningful dialogue with NGOs and native communities” who protested against their forced resettlement and the flooding of large tracts of the Sarawak rainforest.

Sjotveit’s tenure lacked transparency

BMF, which has been on Sjotveit’s back over the treatment of natives in Murum and Baram, claimed that Sjotveit’s had recently travelled to Myanmar seeking a job in the energy industry there.

“The Bruno Manser Fund has learned from well-informed sources that Torstein Dale Sjøtveit’s contract as CEO of Malaysian power supplier Sarawak Energy will not be prolonged by the Taib government after its expiry in Nov 2014 and that (Mr) Sjøtveit will be replaced by a local.

“We have also learned that (Mr) Sjøtveit has recently travelled to Myanmar where he is apparently hoping to obtain a new position in the energy industry,” it said.

The statement also noted that Sjotveit’s tenure in Sarawak has been “characterized by a number of failures and controversies and a serious lack of transparency’.

Welcoming Sjotveit’s imminent exit, BMF has called for SEB to use this as an opportunity to “scale down its unreasonable dam plans”.


  1. Candidates for successor? Why take orang putih when we have many many many qualified locals. Do not worry.

    Comment by sovereign — January 11, 2014 @ 3:55 AM | Reply

    • Orang putih are easy for him to control. They don’t know the native customs, traditions, culture and rule of law so they can just bulldoze through whatever taib ask them to do. That Torstein is a good example. Look at what happened to those Murum people whom they forcefully displaced?

      The same thing is going to happened to those in Baram if they allow taib to build the damned dam.

      Comment by brian — January 11, 2014 @ 4:53 PM | Reply

  2. Torstein is a soldier of fortune. He has outlived his usefulness to the thef minister Taib Mahmud.

    Comment by Special Branch — January 10, 2014 @ 4:57 PM | Reply

  3. Just watch, the man is going to spill all of Taib’s dirty secrets in due course. Believe me, there’s no greater scorn than from an overpriced CEO who had been unceremoniously dumped after doing someone else’s dirty work. And trust BMF to monitor Torstien’s future movement and lifestyle to see if he has been well “compensated” to shut him up. Interesting days ahead for sure.

    Comment by apai — January 10, 2014 @ 9:07 AM | Reply

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