I asked myself awhile back what I could do to make a difference on the issue of corruption and greed-driven deforestation in Sarawak. Not long after that, I was presented with an opportunity to do something – and that was to sign this online petition against timber corruption initiated by the Bruno Mander funds. This NGO based in Europe was founded by Bruno Manser, a well-known activist who worked alongside the natives in Sarawak to protect their land and their rights. He mysteriously ‘disappeared’ on his last visit to a native village – which raises strong suspicions. Considering that a former employee of the Sarawak Chief Minister who became a whistle-blower was found dead in a hotel room in LA at the end of last year, maybe one shouldn’t be surprised at the extent some of these corrupt politicians in Malaysia are willing to go to maintain their empire.
So I encourage those who care, to sign the online petition (click on the picture below to go to the website). I don’t know how much of a difference this is going to make, but it’s the least we could do to bring attention to the issue internationally.
In a separate event, former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has spoken out in support of his sister-in-law in her fight against corruption in Sarawak. Here’s an excerpt from the article in the Malaysian Insider:
“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.
“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,” he wrote in the-British daily.
Brown wrote yesterday that Rewcastle-Brown “is exposing through her local informants 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,” he wrote, claiming that the state is being over-logged and losing a square mile of forest per day, one of the fastest rates of depletion in the world. He added that only five per cent of the primary forest is left today, adding that they had been virginal in the 1960s.
“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 (RM390), for land whose wood is worth millions,” Brown added.
He also called for international support to save Sarawak’s forests, saying that “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.”