Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud has delivered a special message to mark the festive season. Among his comments is a comical demand which will no doubt add to the merriment: stop criticising the government!
According to Bernama:
“If there are (sic) chaos in the country, it will be impossible for us to celebrate any festivity. We should therefore take stock of what the government has done for us,” he said in his Hari Raya message.
He also said that Malaysians were fortunate to have a prime minister “who has the qualification and a leader who cares for the people’s well-being”.
These remarks coming from a Colombo Plan Australian-trained lawyer, no less.
Adding further to the merriment, Deputy Chief Minister Alfred Jabu has cast doubt that the 600 signatures in a memorandum on Murum dam (titled Rakyat Didahulukan, Projeck Empangan Murum Dihentikan’) belonged to the Penan affected by the mega project.
The Borneo Post quotes him as saying:
Do you really believe that all the signatures in the memorandum belong to the Penans? To me, I don’t believe it. I totally do not believe it.
When contacted, Raymond Abin, the director of the Borneo Resources Institute, insisted these were genuine Penan signatures and thumb prints in blue and black ink. In other words, they were not from phantom Penan.
“I don’t know how he (Jabu) came to that conclusion when he and the Chief Minister did not come to receive the memorandum,” said Abin, who was among 15 activists and Penan reps arrested when they tried to submit it to the Sarawak leaders.
Meanwhile, the Borneo Post reports that the Penan have “agreed to end a nearly month-long anti-logging blockade in the Tutoh-Apoh region yesterday after key negotiators Telang Usan assemblyman Lihan Jok and Miri Resident Dr Ngenang Janggu assured them the government would bring development to their community”.
But a lawyer acting for the Penans, See Chee How, disputes this version of events. In a press statement carried by Hornbill Unleashed, he expressed shock and disgust with Lihan Jok, saying that the state assembly member “did not tell the truth when he reportedly said that the Penans had agreed to dismantle blockades and to allow logging to resume in the timber concession areas”.
As for the Borneo Post itself, what else can you expect from a news organisation that is linked to a major timber company (KTS) with interests in logging in native customary land?