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Monday, July 26, 2010

Oxford U under fire for inviting Taib, all eyes on 5pm protest


By inviting “one of Asia’s greatest kleptocrats”, the Said Business School is betraying the Oxford University’s academic integrity

The Oxford University’s Saïd Business School has come under fire over an invitation extended to Taib Mahmud, the controversial Chief Minister of the Malaysian state of Sarawak. Taib Mahmud will present an opening address at the “Oxford Global Islamic Branding and Marketing Forum” to be held on 26-27 July 2010. British civil society groups have announced a protest rally this morning 26 July 2010 (5pm Malaysian time) in front of the Saïd Business School.

According to a joint European NGOs’ statement to be released today (to be uploaded later), Taib is described as “one of Asia’s greatest kleptocrats” who has “systematically plundered the rich Borneo jungles for timber” and that “Most of the state of Sarawak has been illegally absorbed into the possession of his cronies and family members through ‘privatisations’ and the handing out of palm oil and timber concessions, via arbitrary state acquisitions of native lands.” This has resulted in “environmental destruction, serious human rights violations and poverty.”

The joint statement also revealed that since Taib came into power in the early 1980s, his family has systematically transferred huge ill-gotten assets into a number of countries, including the UK, Canada, the United States and Australia. It has recently been disclosed that Ridgeford Properties, a developer of London luxury properties, is a wholly-owned Taib family business.

“By inviting Taib Mahmud as a keynote speaker, the Saïd Business School is not only offending Sarawak’s native communities and Malaysia’s civil rights movement but is also betraying the Oxford University’s integrity and academic tradition”, the NGOs criticized.

The joint statement reminded the illustrious institution that it was an Oxford scholar, the eminent social anthropologist Rodney Needham, who first travelled to Sarwak in 1951 to study the Penan, Borneo’s famous rainforest culture. That months before his death, in 2006, Needham signed an affidavit in favour of a Penan land rights litigation, out of concern for what had happened to the Penan as a result of the indiscriminate logging of their forests.

“Taib Mahmud, who holds the three key offices of Chief Minister, Finance Minister as well as State Planning and Resource Management Minister of Sarawak, is directly responsible for the destruction of the state’s once rich primeval rainforests.”

“Up until today, Taib is denying the Penan, Sarawak’s poorest inhabitants, all rights over their traditional lands in the jungle.”

courtesy of Hornbill Unleashed

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