BRUNO MANSER FUND, BASEL / SWITZERLAND
16 June 2011 – for immediate release
Australian university embarrassed by Malaysian timber graft probe
Adelaide University accused of accepting illegal funds from Malaysian top politician – Bruno Manser Fund calls for an investigation
(ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA) Malaysia’s announcement of a graft probe against Abdul Taib Mahmud (“Taib”), head of state of the resource-rich Malaysian state of Sarawak, has put the University of Adelaide, South Australia, into an uncomfortable position. The University maintains close ties with the controversial Malaysian politician and has accepted donations worth hundreds of thousands of dollars from him. In 2008, the University named a public plaza on its campus after Taib; in 1994, the University bestowed an honorary doctorate on him.
Last week, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) officially confirmed that Taib was under investigation for corruption. The MACC’s move follows an announcement by the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority, FINMA, that it was looking into suspected Taib assets in Swiss banks. FINMA had been alerted by Swiss President, Micheline Calmy-Rey, about possible Taib corruption links to Switzerland.
In March, Adelaide University’s Vice-Chancellor-cum-President, James McWha, came under pressure when the Australian Greens organized a protest rally against the University’s ties with the Sarawak Chief Minister. McWha personally handles the relationship with Taib, one of the University’s biggest benefactors, and has travelled to Sarawak with his wife at the invitation of the Malaysian politician. When questioned by ABC television’s “7:30 Report” programme, Adelaide University confirmed its ties with Taib but refused to disclose the amount of funding it had received.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission, ASIC, lists Abdul Taib Mahmud as a director of the South Australia-based Australian Universities International Alumni Convention Pty Ltd.
The Bruno Manser Fund is calling on the Australian authorities to probe Adelaide University’s ties with the Malaysian politician and to ascertain if Taib’s donations to the University are in line with Australia’s anti-money laundering and anti-corruption legislation.
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Pictures 1 to 3: ‘Stop Timber Corruption in Sarawak’ protest action. Greens MLC (i.e. Member of the South Australian state parliament) Mark Parnell speaking about the connection between Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud and the University of Adelaide. Location: Taib Mahmud Court, University of Adelaide, 25th March 2011 (Pictures courtesy The Australian Greens)
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