It was supposed to be the highlight of Sarawak chief minister Taib Mahmud’s trip to the United Kingdom. But his visit to Oxford University’s Said Business School to give a special address did not go quite as planned – and underscored his and the ruling coalition’s rising troubles in a pivotal electoral swing state.
British activists caught wind of his 26 July visit and scheduled speaking engagement at the inaugural Oxford Global Business Forum and stationed themselves bearing critical placards at the venue’s entrance. In the event, Taib, who has been in power for nearly three decades, suffered the indignity of being reportedly transported in a blue, windowless van and then whisked through a kitchen to enter the venue.
The protesters mainly expressed concerns about Sarawak’s disappearing forests and the plight of the indigenous Penan and other native populations who are losing their land and livelihoods to timber firms, oil palm plantations, and hydroelectric dam projects. Those declining fortunes, they noted, were in stark contrast to the Taib family’s immense wealth. Full article in Asia Times Online.