PUTRAJAYA, Sept 3 ― Sarawak chief minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem said today he believes current state governor Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud will be cleared of corruption allegations against him.
When defending his predecessor, Adenan said the rule of law states that “a man is presumed innocent until proven guilty”, noting that Taib has not been prosecuted or convicted in court.
“For your info, he has been investigated by the MACC and I believe he will come with a clean bill of health.
“If you want to accuse MACC of being biased, that’s between you and MACC,” he said at the 16th International Anti-Corruption Conference here.
He was responding to allegations regarding Taib by global watchdog Global Witness.
Global Witness co-founder and director Patrick Alley, who is also one of the panellists here, claimed however that Taib has been enjoying impunity.
“I do not think the fact that he has not been brought before court reflects his clean bill of health,” he said in an immediate response.
Alley claimed that the alleged illegal land grab and illegal logging activities were not confined to Sarawak alone, citing as example a Sarawak-based firm’s purported illegal land grab in Liberia with 40 per cent of it being forest land.
“Sarawak is not getting a good reputation and it hasn’t had one for many years because of the actions of these companies, so it would be great if you could clamp down on these activities,” he said.
Earlier, Adenan said the Sarawak government wants to put a complete halt to illegal logging and ensure those who already hold logging licenses comply with the licensing conditions.
As part of the state’s goals in a years’ time, Adenan also said his administration wants to strengthen its enforcement.
“I will be the first to admit, some of our officers are corrupt, not all of them,” he said, citing cases where people had encroached into the state’s forest reserves or set up sawmills in national parks “much to the ignorance or pretended ignorance” of the forestry officers.
He invited Global Witness to come over to Sarawak, where both the watchdog and the state’s forestry officials can compare notes instead of engaging in an endless exchange of accusations and rebuttals.
“If we are wrong, you tell us, if you are wrong, we tell you that you are wrong,” he said, adding that both sides should work together for the future instead of looking at recriminations that he said would not carry them anywhere.
Adenan said groups such as Global Witness could aid the Sarawak government by providing expertise and information.
“Don’t just blame us, come and help us,” he said.