KUCHING: Two Sarawak Pakatan leaders today (14 May) demanded an immediate investigation to be taken against Chief Minister of Sarawak Abdul Taib Mahmud following reports by Sarawak Report that the President of Swiss Federation Micheline Calmy-Rey has revealed Taib’s assets in Switzerland.
Calmy-Rey has forwarded the information about Taib’s assets in Switzerland to its regulatory body FINMA (the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority) for investigation.
The Swiss President said that Switzerland takes extremely seriously the concerns that have been raised internationally about Taib’s alleged profiteering from timber corruption and are unhappy that such assets may have been invested in Switzerland.
In a statement on the report, Sarawak PKR Chief Baru Bian said: “For the President of a foreign country to acknowledge that her government has begun investigation into Taib Mahmud’s assets is indeed an indictment on the credibility of the Chief Minister.
“It is also, no less, a huge blot that dents Malaysia’s image internationally which Prime Minister Najib Razak and his wife, self-styled First Lady Rosmah Mansor, have been desperately trying to advance over the last year with their unending international PR exercises and tours to curry global favour.
“For months now Chief Minister has stubbornly refused to respond to the numerous reports at the whistle-blower website alleging his corruption.
“The MACC, despite receiving a profusion of reports from the public and NGOs, has not been able to give us a clear answer on what it is doing about such reports,” he said.
Bian, who is the newly elected state assemblyman for Ba’Kelalan said; “It is now clear that silence is no more an option.
“It is incumbent upon the Chief Minister to respond to these reports publicly. The MACC must also stop hedging before it loses all credibility with the public. The Prime Minister cannot anymore ignore the elephant in the room,” he said.
Sarawak Report further states that Calmy-Rey also makes clear that under international money-laundering agreements it is up to the Malaysian Government to make a request to Switzerland to freeze potentially illegal assets.
On the other hand the Swiss President specifically refers to the recent freezing of assets belonging to the leaders of Libya, Egypt and Tunisia, which have been possible under existing provisions of Swiss legislation.
“In light of this international investigation, an implicit request by the Swiss authorities to freeze Taib’s assets and an appallingly embarrassing slur on our country Malaysia, will Prime Minister finally do the right thing or will he continue to fail to act?” Bian asked.
He pointed out that the "onus is on Najib to redeem Malaysian’s tarnished image abroad and I reiterate that elegant silence on the part of Taib and MACC has ceased to be an option as Malaysia’s reputation is now in question and heavily at stake.
“The public demands answers and they demand them now. More so we the people of Sarawak,” Bian added.
Meanwhile, in a separate Press conference, Sarawak DAP demanded that Taib issue a ‘ministerial’ statement with regard to the allegations made against him by the Swiss authorities either through the newspapers or through the state assembly which will meet this June.
“These allegations by foreign authorities are very serious indeed putting Sarawak in a bad light that the chief minister is involved in corruption.
“Taib must make a stand and issue a ministerial statement either through the media or through the state assembly that will meet this June,” said Chong Chieng Jen, DAP Secretary.
This was the second allegation against Taib being involved in corruption, he said, pointing out that the first one was regarding a Japanese tax agent that was paid into a commission for the exportation of timber from Sarawak.
“But the latest one is the most serious and Taib must issue a statement to clear the air,” he said.
Chong who is the state assemblyman for Kota Sentosa said that he will raise the issue in the coming meeting of the state assembly.
“We demand Taib to answer the allegations,” he added.
Meanwhile, several Sarawakians while welcoming the report react with anger after reading it and want immediate actions to be taken against the chief Minister.
Some describe the report as the best news while others declare the revelation as a ‘Gawai’ gift for Sarawakians especially the Dayaks who celebrate gawai on June 1.
But state BN leaders when contacted refused to comment on the allegations.