UK peer presses London to act on Taib graft allegations
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 20 — A member of the House of Lords in the United Kingdom has asked his government to investigate Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud for graft in deals related to Sarawak timber.Lord St John of Bletso raised the issue in the House of Lords last week when the upper chamber of the British Parliament was debating a question on rainforests.
“Can the noble Baroness give any indication as to whether our government will be following the moves by Switzerland and Germany to investigate money-laundering of the proceeds of timber corruption by the chief minister of Sarawak in Malaysia?” the crossbench peer said last Tuesday as reported in the Hansard.
Minister of International Development Baroness Sandip Verma replied that although she could not respond on a particular individual, the British government would “respond proactively to the difficulties we are all facing with this issue.”
“The multinational companies that deal in illegal logging will find that the penalties for this will be severe,” she told the House of Lords, the upper chamber of the British Parliament.
Abdul Taib has repeatedly denied allegations of corruption worth billions of ringgit in timber deals and land grabs, which became a major election issue during the run-up to the recent April 16 state polls.
Sensing that the chief minister was becoming a liability for Barisan Nasional (BN), coalition leader Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced that Abdul Taib would call time on his 30-year administration after the polls.
However, this did not prevent the ruling coalition from suffering record losses, ceding 16 seats to the opposition in the 71-member state assembly.
International pressure by environmental groups has also seen Germany and Switzerland opening investigations this year into allegations of money-laundering by the 75-year-old politician.
The Sarawak chief minister was received by the House of Lords last year during his visit to promote his state’s Tanjung Manis Halal Hub.