MAC: Mines and Communities

Explosive report exposes Sarawak's dam-builder

Published by MAC on 2015-02-03
Source: Bruno Manser Fonds

Keeping tabs on Abdul Taib Mahmud

Sarawak's Bakun dam has for several years been a by-word for devastation of tropical rainforest and the displacement of Indigneous communities - notably the Penan people.

Saddled with delivering a massive excess of hydropower, the Sarawak government lined up industrial purchasers of electricity for aluminium refining and smelting.

Four years ago, it thought it had nailed of Rio Tinto for this purpose.

However, in 2012, Rio Tinto withdrew from the joint venture, without saying exactly why: for some time more than a whiff of corruption had been filling the air, notably on the part of the Abdul Taib Mahmud administration. See: Malaysian forest peoples protest destructive dams at industry conference

But, in December last year, the Sarawak government announced that a second huge dam, Murum, would come on full stream before the end of 2015.

It said that some 2,100MW via long-term power purchase agreements had been made with energy-intensive industries in the Samalaju Industrial Park, Bintulu.

Among these were one with Malaysian Phosphate Addictives (sic) Sarawak for the supply of 150MW to its RM1.04bil phosphorous plant project; another with Press Metal Bhd (700MW for its aluminium smelters in Samalaju and Mukah; and others with OM Materials (Sarawak) (500MW for a ferro alloy smelter), Asia Minerals Ltd (270MW) and Tokuyama Corp (140MW).

Last week, the Switzerland-based Bruno Manser Fund, which for years has diligently exposed the shenanigans of the Taibclan, published a report revealing that the family had corruptly secured over US$1.4 billion in state contracts between 1993 and 2013.

Much of this money went towards the Bakun, Murum, and other dam projects in Sarawk.

Following the report, a former Malaysian prime minister told an international energy conference that he "shared the Sarawak natives’ concerns about the negative impacts of mega-dams on the environment and the people".

And Adelaide University, in Australia, said it would consider re-naming the "Taib Mahmud Court" which had been installed on-campus in honour of its former student.

Bruno Manser Fund demands a Royal Commission of Enquiry

Bruno Manser Fonds Press Release

27 January 2015

Taib family’s Cahya Mata Sarawak received over USD 1.4 billion in state contracts

Bruno Manser Fund demands a Royal Commission of Enquiry to investigate the takeover of Sarawak’s largest state enterprise by former Chief Minister’s family

(KUCHING, MALAYSIA) An explosive new research report by the Swiss Bruno Manser Fund discloses that Cahya Mata Sarawak (CMS), a Kuching-based infrastructure company, received over USD 1.4 billion (MYR 4.9 billion) in state contracts since its takeover by the relatives of Sarawak Governor and former Chief Minister, Abdul Taib Mahmud (“Taib”).

The report, entitled “Corruption Management Sarawak – Cahya Mata Sarawak and Malaysia’s Taib family” analyses 89 contracts granted to CMS by Malaysian government agencies between 1993 and 2013. The contracts include the MYR 295-million construction of Sarawak’s new State Assembly Building (DUN) in Kuching and a 15-year contract for the maintenance of all state roads in Sarawak granted in 2003, valued at an annual MYR 86 million.

CMS, a formerly state-owned company, was privatised into the hands of the Taib family by a series of reverse takeovers in the early 1990s. Subsequently, it became Sarawak’s single largest recipient of public contracts. For the past 20 years, the former Chief Minister’s family has controlled the group with eleven family members being involved as shareholders, directors or members of CMS’ senior management.

According to Maybank IB Research, CMS is a major beneficiary of SCORE (“Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy”), an industrialisation programme that entails the construction of a series of controversial mega-dams in Sarawak. Potential SCORE investors, meeting from tomorrow in Kuching during the “International Energy Week 2015”, are asked not to invest in SCORE as long as CMS and other Taib family endeavours are among its main beneficiaries.

The Bruno Manser Fund calls on Malaysia to set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry to examine the privatisation of CMS into the hands of the Taib family and to freeze and restitute all CMS shares held by Taib family members.

Watch this video to learn more about “Corruption Management Sarawak – Cahya Mata Sarawak and Malaysia’s Taib family”:

The report on “Corruption Management Sarawak” can be found at:

Bruno Manser Fund
Socinstrasse 37, 4051 Basel, Switzerland
Tel: +41 61 261 94 74

Former Malaysian Prime Minister speaks out against Sarawak’s mega-dams

Bruno Manser Fonds Press Release

27 January 2015

After receiving a letter from the network of communities affected by the dams, Malaysia’s former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad criticises the Sarawak government’s multi-dam initiative

(KUCHING / SARAWAK / MALAYSIA) Malaysia’s former Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, has suggested that the Sarawak state government should rethink its controversial dam-building initiative. Mahathir has today delivered a keynote speech to hundreds of investors at the International Energy Week, a power conference currently taking place in Kuching.

Mahathir’s clear words against mega-dams followed a request by SAVE Rivers, a community-based network fighting Sarawak’s dams, to oppose mega-dams and become a pioneer in the promotion of small-scale energy solutions and rural electrification. In their letter to Mahathir, SAVE Rivers quoted a recent study by Oxford University which found large dams to be uneconomical following an analysis of a representative sample of 245 large hydropower dams.

At the conference, Mahathir stated that he shared the Sarawak natives’ concerns about the negative impacts of mega-dams on the environment and the people. He said that new technologies are available that minimise these impacts and that the Sarawak government should consider them.

Peter Kallang, chairman of SAVE Rivers and signatory of the letter said: “Thank you Dr Mahathir for saying what we have believed in all along. The Sarawak government should listen to this advice for the sake of our environment and the protection of our heritage and human rights.”

SAVE Rivers organized a parallel conference where indigenous peoples discussed alternatives to mega-dams as well as development paths that would respect their traditional land and livelihoods. The conference was followed by symbolic protests, performances of traditional music and dancing by over 70 people at the waterfront in Kuching.

Earlier this week, the Bruno Manser Fund released an explosive report disclosing that Cahya Mata Sarawak (CMS), a Kuching-based infrastructure company, had received over USD1.4 billion (MYR 4.9 billion) in state contracts since its takeover by the family of former Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud. According to Maybank IB Research, CMS is one of the major beneficiaries of the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE), an industrialisation programme powered by the proposed mega-dams.

The Bruno Manser Fund asks the Sarawak government and power supplier Sarawak Energy to review its dam plans and to immediately stop all work related to the construction of the proposed Baram Dam.

Malaysian Politician Disowned by Australian Alma Mater

Bruno Manser Fonds Press Release

22 January 2015

Adelaide University distances itself from Sarawak Governor Taib Mahmud – Estates Committee will examine request to rename the Taib Mahmud Court on the Adelaide campus

ADELAIDE, Australia - The University of Adelaide’s Estates Committee will examine a request by civil society groups for the University to rename the Taib Mahmud Court on its campus. This was announced today by the University’s Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Warren Bebbington, in a letter to the Bruno Manser Fund (BMF).

Professor Bebbington disclosed that the University of Adelaide “has not received any donation from Taib Mahmud for nearly ten years. Since then we have had no dealings with him and indeed, late last year, refused his request to visit and attend our 140th Anniversary Gala Dinner.” The Vice-Chancellor said he had read the book ‘Money Logging’ by BMF director Lukas Straumann “with interest and considerable alarm.”

Adelaide University had faced harsh criticism for its acceptance of large donations from its former student, the long-term Chief Minister and current Governor of Sarawak, Taib Mahmud. The University has repeatedly refused to disclose the amount of funds received from the Malaysian politician.

Taib read law in Adelaide in the late 1950s as beneficiary of a Colombo plan scholarship. Soon after his return to Sarawak, he was appointed a cabinet minister by Sarawak’s last British Governor in 1963. Taib remained a cabinet minister for over fifty years with various portfolios at the state and federal level. In February 2014, he was appointed Governor of Sarawak.

Under Taib Mahmud, corruption in Sarawak has become rampant. Despite Taib’s humble origins, he and his closest family members are today among Malaysia’s richest. In 2011, Malaysia’s Anti Corruption Commission opened an investigation against Taib, which is still ongoing.

The Bruno Manser Fund commends the announcement by Adelaide University’s Vice-Chancellor and President and is hoping that the University’s Estates Committee will indeed rename the Taib Mahmud court. Its name has become an increasing embarrassment and a disgrace not only to the University but also to its many Malaysian students.

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