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Samling Keeps Mum About Its Ties With Malaysian Top Politician

Logging giant avoids mention of Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud's name on its website

MIRI, MALAYSIA, September 20, 2010 --/WORLD-WIRE/-- Samling Global (HKEX 3938), the Malaysian timber group that has been excluded from the Norwegian Government Pension Fund for grossly unethical conduct, has failed to respond on corruption allegations linking the group to Abdul Taib Mahmud, Chief Minister of the  Malaysian state of Sarawak.

According to research published last month by Sarawak Report, Taib Mahmud had been given two multi-million-dollar mansions in Seattle, USA, for the price of just one US dollar by a company owned by Samling founder, Yaw Teck Seng, one of Malaysia's richest men. The US property deal is likely to be linked to political favours granted by Taib to Samling in Sarawak.

With its control of approximately 1.4 million hectares of timber concessions in Sarawak, Samling is Malaysia's largest timber concession holding company. Timber and plantation concessions in Sarawak are issued by one single individual only, Taib Mahmud, in his capacity as State Planning and Resource Management Minister.

It is interesting to note that, in its defence against the Norwegian Government's divestment decision, Samling Global carefully avoids to mention Taib Mahmud's name on its website.

While the group refers to a statement issued by the State's Ministry of Planning and Resource Management, it avoids to say that the controversial Chief Minister himself had publicly defended Samling. Instead, Samling merely writes that "the minister" (i.e. Taib) had "commended Samling on its commitment to sustainable forestry practices and corporate social responsibility efforts".

Taib Mahmud has recently come under fire, following a series of disclosures on the Taib family's overseas property empire, estimated to be worth several hundred million US dollars. It is generally assumed that Taib's overseas properties have been funded with the proceeds of corruption and the  abuse of public funds.


Pictures (All pictures courtesy of Sarawak Report):

Boylston Ave, Seattle
Picture 1: Mansion at 1117 Boylston Avenue East, Seattle, USA -  a gift from Samling founder Yaw Teck Seng to the Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud

Everett Ave, Seattle
Picture 2: Mansion at 2222 Everett Avenue East, Seattle, USA - another gift from Yaw Teck Seng to Taib Mahmud

Boylston Ave, Seattle - interior
Picture 3: Interior of Taib's mansion at 1117 Boylston Avenue East, Seattle

Taib  and Laila Mahmud
Picture 4: Portrait of Taib Mahmud and his late wife Laila inside 1117 Boylston Avenue East, Seattle

Boylston Ave
Picture 5: Details of the Boylston Avenue mansion's park

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