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Europe Should Freeze Malaysia Talks If Taib Becomes Governor

Europe Should Freeze Trade Talks With Malaysia If Taib Is Appointed Governor Of Sarawak

NGO community will call for political and economic consequences if Malaysia continues to violate its international obligations under the UN Convention against Corruption

(BRUSSELS, BELGIUM / GENEVA, SWITZERLAND) Non-governmental organizations in Europe are calling on the European Union and the European Free Trade Association to stall trade talks with Malaysia if the federal government in Kuala Lumpur should be backing outgoing Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud to become Governor of the Malaysian state in Borneo.

After 33 years in power, Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud has recently announced he will step down by the end of February 2014 in order to become Governor, a public office that might grant him immunity from criminal prosecution.

“We make it very clear that the Malaysian government will have to face political consequences if it backs Taib Mahmud, one of South-East Asia’s corruptest politicans, as Governor of Sarawak”, the Bruno Manser Fund writes in a statement. “In particular, the NGO community will pressure the European Union to stall the ongoing timber trade talks under the EU’s FLEGT (Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade) program.”

Until now, Malaysian officials have routinely blamed the Sarawak state government for the lack of progress in the negotiations, which started back in 2006. “If Prime Minister Najib Razak allows Taib Mahmud to become Governor, he will personally endorse the rampant corruption in the timber and palm oil sector in Sarawak. As a consequence, the EU should stop the FLEGT VPA talks with Malaysia with immediate effect. “

The Bruno Manser Fund will also bring the issue of Taib corruption into the ongoing Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations between Malaysia and the European Union (EU) as well as with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). “Malaysia should not be awarded with international trade agreements if the country fails to respect basic anti-corruption norms and protects kleptocrats like Taib Mahmud.”

While the Malaysia – EU free trade talks have been going on since 2010, a first serious round of negotiations between Malaysia and EFTA (Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) will start on 24 March 2014 in Geneva.

With an export volume of 8.9 billion US dollars (2012), the European Union is Malaysia’s fourth largest export market after Singapore, China and Japan.

- Ends -

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