Victims of the Land Grab - Ibans of Kampong Ensika
In an act of breathtaking meanness and greed the multi-billionaire Taib family are seeking to deprive impoverished Ibans of one of Sarawak’s last remaining hardwood forests, for a paltry compensation of just RM250 per family.
Meanwhile, Sarawak Report has received exclusive new leaks which indicate that the Chief Minister himself stands to personally profit by a million times that amount (an estimated RM250,000,00) in corrupt backhanders from the deal.
Raziah Mahmud and Quality Concrete Holdings
This latest illegal raid on Native Customary Rights Land is being carried out by Quality Concrete Holdings Berhad, a company part owned and directed by the Chief Minister’s own sister, Raziah Mahmud. The Taibs, one of the richest families in Asia, have already started harvesting the timber, which is worth millions of US dollars, even though the majority of the villagers are refusing to accept the deal.
“We have been threatened that if we oppose this claim we are going against the government and opposing development” explained one protester, “but why does the government act like a common thief in this case and how much development can we achieve for RM 250?”.
Already driving into the forest without permission
The threatened area is a small range of hills near Sebangan not far from Kuching, consisting of 3,305 hectares of forest. The surrounding region has already been devastated by state-sponsored logging promoted by the Taibs in the 80s and 90s.
However until now it was not considered economic to tackle the raised ground, which has been farmed and hunted for generations by 16 villages of Iban dwellers.
The villagers explain that the area is carpeted by hundreds of thousands of tall trees, some of it valuable primary jungle containing hardwoods that are now painfully scarce. The Secretary General of the Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (SADIA) Nicholas Mujah, who comes from the community, says that there are up to 700 tons of Belian, Meranti, Bulyan, Selangan, Kapur, Kempas, Tekam, Resak, Lon, Penyau, Ruan and Engkaban available per hectare. These all command top prices in the world market, although the logging of such rare timber is now internationally condemned.
The area is also a refuge for some of Sarawak’s remaining wildlife and birdlife, much of which has been wiped out by the Taibs over the past 30 years.
Corruption and conflict of interest
Conveniently on the Board - Raziah Mahmud, Taib's sister
The Iban owners of the forest say they are happy to conserve the wood for future generations and to conduct sustainable logging for their needs. However, the aging Chief Minister, who has already earned billions out of corrupt logging deals seems to have been unable to resist the prospect of grabbing more money by cutting it all down.
In this case, like so many others, he has used a relative, his sister Raziah Mahmud, to conduct the plunder. Raziah is a shareholder and paid Non-Executive Director of Quality Concrete Holdings, a public company largely owned by the family of Tiang Ming Sing and Tiang Ming Kok (the Chairman and Managing Director). She is therefore directly profiting from her connections with the Chief Minister, who hands out all timber licences.