MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku


Thursday, March 31, 2011

With Sarawak polls nearing, cyber activists join fray

March 31, 2011

Protesters in the group urged Sarawakians to unseat Taib in next month’s election. — file pic
KUALA LUMPUR, March 31 — Growing discontent with the Taib state administration has resulted in Internet activists taking their protests online ahead of the upcoming tenth Sarawak election.

The Facebook group “1M Malaysians Reject 100-storey Mega Tower” has launched an online protest campaign against Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, accusing him of being responsible for the “plunder of priceless” Sarawak land.

With members and fans currently at 293,756 the group is expected to leverage residual popularity from its previous protest against the construction of a 100-storey mega tower last year.

The administrators of the group announced yesterday that a protest event will be held online today, calling it “Sarawak Forest Minute” — a minute of protesters’ time for Sarawak’s forest.

“The Facebook group, 1M Malaysian Reject 100-storey Mega Tower launches a one-minute silent protest against the lost of Sarawak forest.

“The infamous Facebook group of 293,735 members calls Malaysians to join their protest against the [loss] of 85 per cent of Sarawak’s primary rain forest under Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud’s mass logging,” said a statement which was sent to news media organisations yesterday.

Attached to the page of the event were comments by attendees of the event, which swelled to the hundreds after the event was first created yesterday morning.

“The one minute protest will take place on Thursday at noon. There is no fixed location for the protest as each will observe the one minute silence at their individual location,” read the statement further.

The administrators of the page charged that based on Google Earth images retrieved online, there was a “sharp contrast” between the Sarawak forest and those in Brunei and Indonesia.

“It can be clearly seen that just along the international border, the forest is healthy on the side of Brunei and Kalimantan, but simply disappears on the side of Sarawak.

“The images show signs of heavy logging in Sarawak’s primary forest,” said the group’s anonymous administrators.

Attached to the page of the event were the links to the Google Earth images.

“The response is so encouraging. It looks like about one in 10 will accept the invitation within a couple of hours. To reach 500, we probably need 2,100 more invitations. To reach 1,000, we would need some 7,100 more invitations,” said the administrators yesterday.

Many of the comments were directed towards Taib and the Sarawak election, where the commentators urged Sarawakians to vote out the chief minister as well as Barisan Nasional (BN).

“Simple solution, vote Taib out. We are living in a democratic country, as the people, we have the rights to choose who leads us and in which direction do we allow them to guide us.

“If we despise their wrongdoings, we should take action and not just sit there idly, praying. God help those who help themselves! Don’t just pray for a miracle, take action and create one!” said one comment.

Another Facebook user, Shar Izat Kasumajaya wrote: “Glad to see our side of the country getting some press attention. Usually, we’re just milked dry for resources. Sarawak.”

The online realm has proven to be especially effective among anti-Taib protesters.

Radio Free Sarawak and the Sarawak Report, both run by the sister-in-law of former British prime minister Gordon Brown, Clare Rewcastle-Brown, has been highly critical of Taib’s 30-year-old administration, accusing it of widespread corruption and illegal political practices.

She began operations of the two media outlets anonymously last year, before choosing to reveal herself ahead of the Sarawak election next month.

The state opposition holds eight out of 71 seats in the state assembly and hopes to make gains with help from Rewcastle-Brown, a reporter since 1983.

Nomination day for state polls is on April 6 while voting is on April 16.

Brown has voiced his support for his sister-in-law’s crusade and described the deforestation of Sarawak as “probably the biggest environmental crime of our times.”

Environmental watchdog Wetlands International also reported last month that Sarawak’s rapid expansion of oil palm plantations may result in its unique peat forests being wiped out by the end of the decade. - Malaysian Insider

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