BREAKING NEWS: Dam corruption: Malaysian minister caught red-handed
Reward for a compliant politician: Milisha Holdings' Belian timber concessions in Sarawak's middle Baram region
(KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA) Jacob Dungau Sagan, Malaysian Deputy Minister of International Trade and Industry and Member of Parliament for Baram (Sarawak), has been caught red-handed in a timber corruption scandal that is likely to become a major embarrassment for the Malaysian government under Prime Minster Najib Razak
According to confidential documents published today by the whistleblower website, Sarawak Report, Jacob Dungau Sagan and his wife and daughter are the secret holders of three timber concessions in Sagan's parliamentary constituency of Baram in the Malaysian state of Sarawak on Borneo. Sagan's concessions, with an estimated worth of several million dollars, are specifically licensed to harvest Belian (Borneo ironwood), a particularly rare and sought-after South-East Asian tree species. Belian has been classified by IUCN, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, as a vulnerable species and is banned for export from Sarawak and from Indonesia.
Baram MP Jacob Dungau Sagan has recently come under fire for supporting the Barisan Nasional governmentâ€™s controversial plans to construct a 1000 MW dam on the Baram river that would drown 26 villages in his constituency, including Jacobâ€™s birthplace, Long Anap. It is estimated that the construction Baram dam would force the displacement of 20'000 indigenous people in Upper Baram but Malaysian officials are extremely secretive about the details of the dam plans. It is believed that the three Belian concessioins have been given to Jacob by Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud in order to buy his political support for the controversial Baram dam project.
The corruption scandal hits the Malaysian government at an inconvenient moment, with a General Election expected to come up within months. Jacob Sagan is already the second Malaysian minister involved in a corruption scandal. For weeks, cabinet minister Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, who heads the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development, has been in the headlines for mismanagement and the abuse of funds in Malaysiaâ€™s National Feedlot Corporation (NFC).
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