Based on research conducted over the past several months Sarawak Report is now opening 2020 with an exclusive report and film detailing the shameful record of Malaysian logging and plantation records in Papua New Guinea.
SEE OUR REPORT – “Sarawak’s Logging Tycoons In Papua New Guinea ” copyright @sarawakreport.org January 2020*
Over the past 50 years it has been commonplace for certain leaders, particularly in East Malaysia, to criticise past colonial ills whilst at the same time embarking on their own unprecedented rampage of resource grabbing, first within their own borders and then throughout the region.
The consequences have been described by its many victims in Papua New Guinea as “worse than colonialism” to Sarawak Report – a sentiment echoed by so many of the native peoples of Sarawak whose lands were snatched by outside interests aided and abetted by corrupt local leaders.
The politics of ‘development’ of the 60s and 70s spared little thought for the impact of this unrestrained destruction of our natural resources, such as the forests, rivers and seas that provide for all our food and water and sustain the diversity of life within our habitat.
To aid this cashing in of nature’s wealth, technology and ready capital have surged over the past half century to make even the remotest regions easy targets for cheap pillage – areas that by their nature are poorly governed and populated by the world’s most vulnerable and least informed people.
Thinkers and scientists, who started to urge foresight and sustainable development, continue to be treated with contempt by these outdated ‘modernisers’. They have likewise brushed aside fundamental social concerns about the fact that in places like East Malaysia only a handful of politicians and their business cronies have benefitted from the wreakage.
As a result, ‘Development’ has turned out to be only for the few whose marbled palaces and private jets sit alongside grinding poverty and food shortages for everybody else. It has proved a failed policy, thanks mainly to corruption and poor decision-making driven by that self-same corruption.
In Sabah and Sarawak the native landowners have been stripped of their rights, deprived of their resources and left penniless and without services by the timber raiders and plantation giants brought in by greedy politicians to carve up the booty.
Now, those responsible – often elderly billionaires who have caused untold misery – ought face the consequences. The world spotlight has fallen on these crimes of corruption and kleptocracy on the part of those entrusted to govern places like Sarawak and the appalling consequences, including climate change, can no longer be denied.
The catastrophic destruction of the world’s rainforest regions has proved one of the worst drivers of global rising temperatures and no one believes the Malaysian palm oil industry’s claims that the millions of hectares grabbed from native landowners (particularly in East Malaysia over the past 20 years) then logged to the enrichement of politicians and business cronies, before being transformed into plantations are somehow unrelated to deforestation and the endangerment of threatened species.
It’s a plain and simple fact that logging followed by plantations causes deforestation, destruction of the landscape and species extinction. And what few Malaysians have been made aware of by the perpetrators in power is that the rampant landgrabs and abuses of native peoples have gone far beyond the boundaries of places like Sabah and Sarawak in East Malaysia.
In fact, Malaysia provides one of the worst examples of modern colonialism in the 21st century, thanks to companies made rich by their exploitation in Borneo who have then exported their practices into the Solomon Islands, Congo, South America and perhaps worst of all into Papua New Guinea, the world’s second largest island, where millions of hectares of timber have been snatched from local people by Sarawakian ‘Robber Barons’ who have created the largest oil palm plantations in the Southern Hemisphere and where local landowners say they are treated like slave labour on their own territories.
Sarawak Report visited Papua New Guinea to discover just what a bad name these mainly Sarawak based companies have given to Malaysia throughout that country. Time and again we heard Malaysians described as ‘colonialists but worse’ by people who say they want the Malaysians to leave and go back home.
Since few Malaysians are responsible for the outrages, thefts and abuses perpetrated in their name in Papua and elsewhere and few benefit either from the massive wealth that has been stolen from these native people it is surely time for the newly elected reforming government to save their country’s reputation and take these rogue, tax-evading, criminal logging companies to task?
These greedy neo-colonialists of the 21st century and their political collaborators ought to be held to account for their thefts and damage to South East Asia and Planet Earth.
*Please refer to SR copyright if referring to our report and film. Our thanks to all the donors and supporters to Sarawak Report, whose contributions helped fund our work.