Sarawak: Corruption Scandal Breaks Over Malaysian UNESCO World Heritage Site
Posted on Dec 08, 2010
Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmund found to be a shareholder of the Royal Mulu Resort – UNESCO urged to launch an investigation on alleged breaches of the UN Convention against Corruption
"...large sums of public money straight into his own pocket..."
A new corruption scandal has broken over the Gunung Munung National Park, the only UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site in the East Malaysian state of Sarawak in Borneo. According to Sarawak Report (www.sarawakreport.org), the independent news site, Sarawak's head of state, Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud, is an indirect shareholder of the highly controversial Royal Mulu resort, a project that has received huge cash injections from Sarawak's state coffers and holds a monopoly on tourism development in the UNESCO-listed nature park.
In a recent posting, Sarawak Report presents an offical document from the Companies Commission of Malaysia that lists Abdul Taib bin Mahmud, Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Haji“ - the Chief Minister's official title – as holder of 400,000 shares of Mesti Bersatu Sdn. Bhd., a company that owns 50% of Kenyalang Cergas Bhd., one of the main owners of the Royal Mulu resort. That means that, as both Chief Minister and Finance Minister, Taib has authorised the diversion of large sums of public money straight into his own pocket", Sarawak Report concludes. - The other directors and shareholders of Kenyalang Cergas and Mesti Bersatu include Taib's sister Raziah and her husband Robert Geneid as well as the family of Taib's late brother Arip Mahmud. Sarawak Report alleges that Borsamulu, a Mulu management subsidiary, is being paid an annual 50 million Ringgits (16 million US$) by the state of Sarawak for the management of the Royal Mulu Resort.
The Gunung Mulu National Park has repeatedly been criticized for its failure to deal properly with tranditional land rights of the native Penan and Berawan communities over the park area. In 2009, the UNESCO World Heritage Center in Paris criticized the Sarawak state government 's dealings with the native land rights issue and requested to be informed on ways in which the State Party and the management authority of the property have been engaging with community leaders to effectively resolve land conflicts surrounding land rights and benefit sharing from tourism.“
The Bruno Manser Fund is alarmed by the personal benefit Sarawak's head of state and his family members are drawing from the Gunung Mulu World Heritage Site and urges UNESCO to launch an investigation into the ownership and management structure of the Royal Mulu resort. In particular, we ask UNESCO to ascertain if the management of the Gunung Mulu National Park is in line with the United Nations Convention against Corruption, to which Malaysia is a signatory.