Olympic Medalist Asked To Turn Down Malaysian "Special Gift"
BRUNO MANSER FUND, BASEL / SWITZERLAND
20 August 2012 – for immediate release
Olympic Medalist Pandelela Asked To Turn Down Malaysian Potentate’s "Special Gift"
Malaysian diving champion warned of political manipulation by Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud
The Bruno Manser Fund congratulates Malaysian Olympics medalist Pandelela Rinong Pamg for her fantastic performance at the London Olympics, which won her a bronze medal in the 10 m platform diving event. The Sarawak diver was the first Malaysian woman to win an Olympic medal.
However, the Swiss human rights organization warns the diving champion from political manipulation by Sarawak potentate Taib Mahmud („Taib“). Last week, Taib announced he would reward the 19-year old bronze medallist with a „special gift“ upon her return to Sarawak. Pandelela is a Bidayuh native of Sarawak, a Malaysian state that is home to over 40 indigenous peoples
„Taib Mahmud has abused his political power and done more harm to Sarawak’s indigenous peoples than any other Malaysian politician“, the Bruno Manser Fund wrote in a statement. „He lacks the moral legitimacy to make a special gift to an outstanding Bidayuh champion like Pandelela. We call on Pandelela Rinong Pamg not to let herself be politically manipulated and advise her to politely turn down Taib’s ‚special gift’.“
Taib Mahmud has been Chief Minister of Sarawak since 1981. He has abused his public office in a spectacular way and has granted his family members logging and plantation concessions over several hundred thousand hectares of native lands. Last year, research by the Bruno Manser Fund showed that Taib family members are stakeholders in more than 400 coompanies in 25 countries, worth several billion US dollars.
It is feared that Taib is planning to abuse Pandelela’s Olympic success to boost his own dwindling popularity. „The only gift Pandelela should accept from Taib is his resignation as Chief Minister, which would be a relief to the whole of Sarawak.“