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Taib Corruption Scandal Reaches Australian University

Adelaide University’s vice-chancellor-cum-president asked to step down over accepting Malaysian timber corruption money – Adelaide university urged to remove Taib’s name from its "Taib Mahmud, Chief Minister of Sarawak Court"


ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA, March 15, 2011, --/WORLD-WIRE/-- Less than two weeks after the London School of Economics and Political Science’s (LSE) director stepped down for having accepted donations from Libyan dictator Muammar al-Gadaffi, an Australian university director is facing resignation calls in an international high-profile case of academic funding by a corrupt Malaysian politician.

The Swiss Bruno Manser Fund has today asked The University of Adelaide's Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor James McWha, to resign from all his functions in the Adelaide university direction for accepting large donations from Sarawak’s billionaire Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud ("Taib"), a notorious kleptocrat who is said to be one of South-East Asia’s richest and most corrupt politicians.

Taib at Adelaide
Adelaide University Vice-Chancellor and President James McWha tour the newly-landscaped "Taib Mahmud, Chief Minister of Sarawak Court" in 2008
(Picture: Adelaide University)
According to a new article by Sarawak Report, Taib has been a “long-time benefactor” of Adelaide University.  Taib made his first donation to the university in 1987, six years after he became Chief Minister. In 1994 he received an honorary doctorate from Adelaide. In 2001, Taib donated $300'000 - more than double his annual salary - to the University. In 2008, Adelaide University named a key space on the university premises the “Taib Mahmud, Chief Minister of Sarawak Court.” On that occasion, Vice-Chancellor and President James McWha thanked Taib for his "personal generosity" that "has continued in many ways over the years".

Taib, an Adelaide University graduate, will celebrate his 30th year in power on 26th March 2011. All this while, he has abused his political power in a spectacular way and has managed to turn the resource-rich state of Sarawak into his own private fiefdom. Taib holds absolute power over the state’s timber sector and his family controls not only the state’s largest private company - construction firm Cahya Mata Sarawak (CMS) - but also at least 48 further companies in eight countries around the globe. Over the last three years alone, Taib has failed to account for a staggering 4.8 billion Ringgit (US $ 1.5 billion) from Sarawak's state coffers.

Taib is the chief culprit for the destructive logging of over 90% of Sarawak’s formerly pristine rainforests and for the marginalisation of the state’s large indigenous population. Last week, former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the large-scale destruction of Sarawak’s tropical rainforests was "probably the biggest environmental crime of our times."

It is a scandal that Adelaide University, which claims to be "one of Australia's oldest and finest universities", has accepted Taib’s ill-gotten funds and has associated itself closely with an obviously criminal Malaysian politician. The Bruno Manser Fund asks Adelaide university Vice-Chancellor James McWha to resign over the university's lack of due diligence and demands that Taib Mahmud’s name will be removed from the university’s premises.

Sign the online petition aginst timber corruption:

http://www.stop-timber-corruption.org/petition

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For more information, please contact us:

Bruno Manser Fund, Socinstrase 37, 4051 Basel, Switzerland
Tel. +41 61 261 94 74,
www.stop-timber-corruption.org