The Sarawak Revolution!

Taib Mahmud, Sarawak’s Chief Minister for the past 30 years, is allegedly Malaysia’s most corrupt leader. His days are most likely numbered as his ill-gotten gains are now, slowly and systematically being made public.

Thanks to the two unlikely people behind the Sarawak Report and Radio Free Sarawak that started the ball rolling:

In a flat above a restaurant in Covent Garden, an investigative reporter called Clare and a tribesman from Borneo covered in tattoos prepare to transmit their daily revolutionary radio broadcast deep into the Borneo jungle.

They make for an unlikely double act – she is a white, middle-aged Englishwoman, and he the proud grandson of a Dayak headhunter who broadcasts under the pseudonym Papa Orang Utan. Their aim is no less outlandish: to expose the alleged corruption of Taib Mahmud, chief minister of the Malaysian state of Sarawak on the island of Borneo 6,500 miles from London, and bring an end to his 30-year rule.

Until recently, the people behind the Sarawak Report and Radio Free Sarawak were anonymous but things changed:

She says their decision to go public was prompted by death threats posted to the Sarawak Report website and by the mysterious fatality of her chief whistleblower in America. “Before Christmas, Taib’s disaffected US aide Ross Boyert was found dead in a Los Angeles hotel room with a plastic bag around his head. The inquest is still pending but there was a sense that Peter and I could be in danger. Rather than hide, we’ve decided to come out fighting.”

Read the full expose here.

Another organisation working on Sarawak issues, The Bruno Manser Fund, recently released a report tracking corporations that Taib Mahmud controls globally and is seeking to blacklist and freeze their assets (details are available here and here).

Things are really not going too well for this corrupt dictator. Prime Minister Najib had to warn explicitly that he will not tolerate any Egypt-style overthrow of Sarawak’s Chief Minister.

Will the people of Sarawak think otherwise?

About Greg Lopez

Greg Lopez is a research fellow at Murdoch University's School of Management and Governance, and New Mandala’s Malaysia and Singapore section editor.