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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Timber Corruption: Malaysian Prime Minister Caught Red-Handed

Video evidence proves Najib Razak's involvement in vote-buying for a Sarawak timber tycoon
SIBU, SARAWAK, MALAYSIA, June 8, 2010 --/WORLD-WIRE/-- An extraordinary video document released by Malaysia's independent news service, Malaysiakini, is likely to cause the Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak major political long-term damage at both domestic and the international level. The seven-minute video sequence shows the Malaysian Prime Minister's involvement in vote-buying for a local timber tycoon in the Sarawak town of Sibu.

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The video was shot during a recent by-election campaign in Sibu, a Sarawak timber-industry centre located on the banks of the Rejang river. As a consequence of large-scale logging in the upper reaches of the Rejang, the river has repeatedly flooded parts of the town and the surroundings of Sibu and caused severe destruction.

During a campaign rally held at Rejang Park, Sibu, on 15 May 2010, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak promised the Sibu population that he would resolve their flood woes in return for their voting for Robert Lau, the candidate of the Barisan Nasional (BN) government coalition. Robert Lau is the son of timber tycoon and KTS chairman Lau Swee Nguong. KTS is one of Sarawak's biggest timber conglomerates with business interests in Malaysia, China and the Amazon Basin in Brazil.

"If you deliver me Robert Lau on Sunday, on Monday I will ask (for) the cheque to be prepared. This is our deal tonight. What is the cheque you want?", Najib asked a 1,000-odd crowd. The Malaysian Prime Minister went on to promise a government contribution of five million Malaysian Ringgit (US$ 1.5 million) for flood mitigation measures: "You help me, I help you."

The video has caused widespread embarrassment among overseas Malaysians who are saying that Najib's behaviour is a disgrace to the country. Despite the Prime Minister's promises, the Sibu by-election was won by the Pakatan Rakyat opposition coalition in what has been termed the "Sibu miracle". After the lost election, Najib said he would have to reconsider whether the Malaysian government would approve of the Sibu flood mitigation projects.

Political analysts are pointing to the fact that corruption is one of the reasons for voters to increasingly turn away from the Barisan Nasional coalition that has been in power ever since the formation of Malaysia in 1963.

Link to the Malaysiakini video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LwNLT428PqU

Bruno Manser Fund,
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Tel. +41 61 261 94 74