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BMF Calls For Freeze Of Abdul Taib’s Asset, But Who Is Bruno Manser?

BMF Calls For Freeze Of Abdul Taib’s Asset, But Who Is Bruno Manser?

Bruno Manser left for Borneo at the age of 30, inspired to live without money and to know about people who live close to their origins.

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Recently, the news of Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud’s death has left Sarawak in mourning.

However, just a few days after his death, a Swiss-based NGO, the Bruno Manser Fonds (BMF) is urging Malaysia to freeze the late Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud’s accounts and reopen the investigation into the former Sarawak governor and his family’s wealth.

READ MORE: Taib Mahmud Dies, To Be Laid To Rest In Demak Jaya

BMF in a statement also called on the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to reopen its investigation into Abdul Taib’s assets, which were closed in 2016.

All of Taib’s personal bank accounts and other assets should be frozen immediately to prevent any illicitly acquired wealth from being appropriated by family members.

Lukas Straumann, Executive Director of the Bruno Manser Fonds

According to the statement, Abdul Taib’s privatisation of Cahaya Mata Sarawak (CMS) in the early 1990s resulted in public contracts worth over RM4.9 billion.

Additionally, he claimed Abdul Taib’s tenure saw the loss of most of Sarawak’s primary rainforests, with less than 10% remaining intact today.

Abdul Taib’s promotion of industrial logging and plantations faced resistance from indigenous communities.

Who is Bruno Manser?

Pic Credit: Bruno Manser Fonds Official Website

Some might wonder who Bruno Manser is.

Born in Basel, Switzerland on 25 August 1954, Manser left for Borneo at the age of 30, inspired to live without money and to know about people who are living close to their origins.

This search brought him to Sarawak in 1984, where he met a group of Penan.

He lived with them for six years and learned the life in the jungle. However, a threat in the shape of logging companies who began clearing Borneo’s primeval forests, caused the Penan to lose their livelihood, reducing vegetation, contaminating drinking water, driving animals away, and desecrating heritage sites.

Manser wanted to fight for his paradise and decided to bring this matter to the attention of international media.

This move of him aggravated many Malaysian authorities and he was almost arrested. Right after this he went back to Switzerland and used his home country as the base to fight for the Penan people.

With the help of his friends, he established BMF and also published a book titled “Voices from the Rainforest” in 1992, held numerous lectures, and participated in protest actions.

His 60-day hunger strike in 1993 aimed to ban tropical timber imports and introduce mandatory declarations.

Although his efforts gathered attention internationally, they did not have much success in Sarawak.

Manser visited the Penan people in the jungle regularly after returning to Switzerland. He observed their logging activities and attempted to offer immediate aid.

But he never made it back after his final trip to Sarawak. On May 25, 2000, his movements were tracked to the Borneo prehistoric forest.

After that, many search teams were unable to locate him. The Basel-Stadt cantonal civil court formally proclaimed him missing, presumed deceased, on March 10, 2005.

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