Malaysian 'eco-thug' tries to halt book exposing his crimes

It couldn't happen to a nicer guy. 

Where once stood proud forests... eco-devastation in Sarawak.

Where once stood proud forests... eco-devastation in Sarawak.

After reportedly making billions of dollars for himself and confederates by pillaging and destroying vast expanses of Borneo's rainforests, former Sarawak timber chief and governor Abdul Taib is now being brought to task by a new book.

Entitled Money Logging: On the Trail of the Asian Timber Mafia, by Lukas Straumann, the book accuses Taib of massive corruption, despotic behavior, and committing one of the greatest environmental travesties in history.

The forests of Sarawak, a Malaysian state in northern Borneo, have been devastated in recent decades by intensive logging and conversion to oil palm plantations.  This has had profound impacts on biodiversity, indigenous peoples, and forest carbon stocks in the region.

Former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown has referred to the rampant pillaging of Borneo's forests as “probably the biggest environmental crime of our times”.

As reported recently in the leading environmental website Mongabay, lawyers representing Taib and the Malaysian government are attempting to block Money Logging's publication, by threatening its publishers with legal action. 

The publishers have announced they intend to press ahead with the book.

In March, ALERT highlighted some of Taib's notorious activities -- slamming him for unprecedented environmental misdeeds and corruption.  The scale of Taib's environmental crimes can be seen in this shocking video.

So far, Taib's lawyers haven't said anything to us -- but we'll certainly let you know if they do.


What to do if you see an eco-crime

Ever seen somebody do really wrong by the environment?  Don't get mad, get even...

Frequent victim...  (photo by Ralph Buij)

Frequent victim...  (photo by Ralph Buij)

For the first time, there's a whistle-blower site that's dedicated to eco-crimes, including illegal logging, poaching, and the illicit wildlife trade.  Known as Wildleaks, it's designed to provide a simple and totally secure way to dob in eco-offenders.

A website like this is more than timely: wildlife crimes are burgeoning in many parts of the world.  The illegal trade in ivory and rhino horn alone have had appalling impacts on elephant and rhino populations (see our blogs below), and that's just scratching the surface of the problem.  Organized crime is implicated in many cases.

Interpol and the World Bank, for instance, estimate that illegal logging is costing developing nations around US$30 billion annually, and that's merely lost government revenues.  The price tag approaches US$100 billion if the environmental toll is included too.

So pass along the word to friends and colleagues about Wildleaks.  Wildlife crimes flourish in the shadows but falter where the light shines...