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Civil society group wants RCI into Sarawak exposé

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KUALA LUMPUR, 20 March — A group of civil society organisations is asking for a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) following the covert video by Global Witness implicating Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud and his family in shady land deals, reports Zurairi AR of The Malaysian Insider.

The group also asked for an immediate response from the government over the allegations, before the 13th general elections which are expected very soon.

“This is very terrible for Malaysia … (We need) nothing less than RCI. We call the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to call an RCI to investigate this issue,” Sarajun Hoda, a representative of reform movement Aliran said here.

The view was echoed by several other organisations, which also called for Abdul Taib (picture) to resign from his post while an investigation is conducted to avoid any interference.

Others, however, rejected the idea, saying that such a response will not come from the authorities.

“As far as we are concerned, it is an absolute waste of time to forward, to demand any responses … given the current climate,” said Haris Ibrahim of the Anything But Umno (ABU) movement.

The group also put part of the blame on the media, which they claimed had continued to be silent in the face of corruption.

“We need to examine the role of the media … One of the resolutions should be to hold the media responsible,” said Josie Fernandez, the secretary-general of Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M).

Fernandez called for a boycott of some media outlets for failing to highlight the issue of corruption, even after the Sarawak exposé clip surfaced and began making rounds online.

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Other civil society organisations present today were Tenaganita, Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM), and the Oriental Hearts and Mind Study Institute (OHMSI).

In a 16-minute video clip released yesterday, GW investigators posing as foreign investors recorded snippets of their conversation with Taib’s cousins and lawyers, made under the pretext of purchasing Sarawak land for hefty profit and which the environmental campaigner said would displace thousands of the indigenous people living there.

Taib had suggested yesterday that his cousins and others implicated in the video exposé were promoting themselves to be his agents to solicit favours.

“OK I saw the so-called proof. Could it not be someone who tried to promote themselves to be an agent to get favours from me?

“It has nothing to do with me. I think it is a bit naughty of them. They are using their big powers to blacken my name,” the Sarawak chief minister said when approached by reporters in the state capital Kuching.

Source: themalaysianinsider.com

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