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Friday, September 30, 2011

Australian gov't alerts its AG on Taib's dealings

Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd has contacted the country's Attorney-General's Department on a complaint of alleged corrupt activities by Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud and his family members there.

According to Swiss-based NGO Bruno Manser Funds, Rudd's office had informed it of this development through a letter dated Sept 28, following the NGO's Sept 1 complaint.

NONE"Mr Rudd (left)has asked me to reply on his behalf. Your correspondence has been referred to the Australian Attorney-General's Department for consideration," wrote Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade officer Bassim Blazey.

Blazey, assistant secretary of the department's South-East Asia Division, added that the complaint would be viewed seriously as it falls under UN conventions to which Australia is a party.

"Australia takes its responsibilities under the UN Convention Against Corruption and the UN Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime seriously and will continue to implement these obligations seriously.

"Thank you for bringing these concerns to the attention of the Australian government," he said in the letter made available to the press.

The tracking of Talib's dealings

Blazey had written in response to a letter jointly sent by BMF executive director Lukas Straumann, Sarawak Report editor Claire Rewcastle and Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian to Australian PM Julia Gillard.

In their letter, the parties expressed concern that Abdul Taib and his family "might have laundered and reinvested large amounts of corruption proceeds in Australia".

NONEThe trio suspect that Abdul Taib and his family may have done this through family members who are either Australian born, married to Australians or residing in Australia.

They also claim that their research shows that "a number of persons associated with (Abdul Taib) are holding significant interests in Australian companies, particularly the property sector".

The letter also cites as evidence the case between Abdul Taib's former aide Mohd Farok Abdul Majeed, who had allegedly disappeared in the middle of a court proceeding against the chief minister's brother, Onn.

The New South Wales court had awarded Mohd Farok A$2.2 million (RM7 million) for unpaid work by his construction company Australasia Pacific Management Pty Ltd, but the Supreme Court overturned the judgment due to Mohd Farok's non-appearance in court in 2008.

This, the trio said, bears "striking resemblance" to the case of Ross Boyert, another of Abdul Taib's aide, who was found dead in a Los Angeles hotel in September 2010, after filing a civil case against companies owned by Taib's family members.

BMF lists 25 companies as being linked to Abdul Taib and his family, through ownership or other ties.

MCLM president refused entry

Meanwhile, president of the Malaysian Civil Liberties Movement (MCLM) Haris Ibrahim slammed the Sarawak government for continuing to abuse its powers in refusing entry by Malaysians into the state without giving valid reasons.

Haris was refused entry at Kuching airport upon arrival from Kota Kinabalu in neighbouring Sabah at around 5.15pm yesterday.

NONEHe was duly escorted to an aircraft back to KL at 7pm.

“I was informed by immigration officers, vide a written notice of refusal of entry, that, pursuant to section 65(1) of the Immigrations Act, 1959/63, the state authority had, without affording me any reasons, directed that no pass be issued to me to enter the state of Sarawak,” said Haris (right) in a statement today.

While acknowledging that under the Malaysia Agreement, 1963 the state was empowered to handle its own entry passes, Haris said the state cannot abuse those powers to deny a Malaysian the right, “without furnishing good reason”.

Haris was scheduled to speak that evening at a Rakyat Reform Agenda forum that MCLM had organised at the Grand Continental Hotel, Kuching.

The forum is part of a series that started off in Kota Kinabalu and Tawau on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively.

The entry ban is the MCLM president's second such experience after being denied entry on Apr 13 during the Sarawak election campaign this year.

MCLM is consulting with its solicitors over their next move on the matter.

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