Monday, May 14, 2007

AFTER-THOUGHT DENIAL?


KUCHING, May 14 (Bernama) -- Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud today issued a statement to the state legislative assembly refuting all insinuations of corrupt practices against him and the state government stemming from an article carried by the "Japan Times" newspaper.

The March 29 report captioned "Wood Carriers Allegedly Hid 1.1 Billion Yen Income" had claimed that Japanese shipping companies paid the sum to a Hong Kong agent as kickbacks to unnamed Sarawak officials and "rebates as lubricant to facilitate their timber trade".

[Dewaniaga Sarawak (DNS), a company affiliated with the Malaysian state of Sarawak, instructed NFA members to pay so-called intermediation fees to the Hong Kong agent, Regent Star (RS). The Chief Minister's brother Onn bin Mahmud also sits on the board of CMS. Not only is Abdul Taib Mahmud Chief Minister, he's also the Resource Management and Planning Minister.]

In his Personal Statement issued under Standing Order 22, Taib said that neither he nor state government officials had been contacted by Japan Times for clarification or comment before such serious allegations were made."

I take this opportunity to categorically and completely refute all these allegations contained in Japan Times. They are absolutely false," he said.

The chief minister explained that the timber industry in Sarawak was regulated by two principal laws, namely the Forests Ordinance of Sarawak and Sarawak Timber Industry Development Corporation Ordinance 1973.

He said that no law or state government agencies regulated the shipment or transport of timber exported from Sarawak to overseas destinations.

"The sellers and buyers of Sarawak timber make their own arrangement for transportation of timber abroad," he added.

Taib said that after the Japan Times published the allegations without providing any proof, both print and electronic media in Malaysia reproduced them.

He also said that it was irresponsible for some political parties or politicians in this country to attempt to make political capital out of these allegations.

Taib said that legal proceedings would be filed immediately in Malaysia and Japan unless the offending newspapers and persons published unqualified retraction and apologies, and pay legal costs and damages.-- BERNAMA


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