Saturday, November 19, 2011

All Malaysians must strive to bury religious and racial differences

Hi Pete,

With my comment under your article "Let's get it straight", I was trying to put across a subtle, subliminal message but, judging by the responses, I obviously failed big time to hit the target. I will be more direct in future!

My underlying message was: "All Malaysians must strive to bury religious and racial differences and work at becoming fulltime Malaysians". After all, peaceful cooperation is a two-way street, and blaming each other for the jams will get everybody nowhere!

Anyway, please allow me to elaborate, based on the way I see things from an interested outsider's perspective:

1. UMNO have deliberately kept the religion/race cards in constant play (and today, even more so), solely to ensure that (i) Malays are always driven to vote for UMNO and (ii) non-Malays will be confused as to the intention of the Malay elements of the opposition parties, so that retaining UMNO will seem a far safer option to non-Malays than voting for the unknown, possibly far worse political scenario. In this, UMNO is conducting an extremely Machiavellian game, knowing full well what it is doing.

2. As all past visitors to Malaysia will tell you, for so many reasons Malaysia used to be a great place to visit, the principal reasons being (a) the wide variety of cultures and food to be experienced across the length and breadth of the country, (b) the ease of travel and communication, (c) the cleanliness and attention to beautiful landscaping everywhere, and (d) the politeness and respect with which Malaysians used to treat not only each other but foreigners too. All those attributes within Malaysia combined to create a society possessing an exquisitely unique flavour, which I can only describe as "Malaysianess". All foreign visitors to Malaysia will know exactly what I mean by that – Malaysia's southern neighbour is nice enough, but Singaporeans just don't seem to generate the spontaneous warmth that at one time existed everywhere in Malaysia, plus Malaysians generally dress so much more colourfully than Singaporeans and aren't, well, boring……..

3. Having said that, today Malaysia is not as nice, safe or friendly as it once used to be. The warmth at the Immigration Department coming by road from Singapore has disappeared completely, almost as if visitors from the south are no longer welcome. Taxi drivers in KL constantly bitch about the GOM in general and about the discrimination shown to non-Muslims and non-Malays in particular, the courtesy level shown to foreigners has dropped considerably, the streets aren't anywhere near as safe to walk along as they once were (in some of the less salubrious areas you can almost feel the resentment in the air against those with money), and some former tourist spots in KL seem to have been deliberately abandoned and left to become run-down (particularly in the predominantly Chinese and Indian areas).

4. In the process of deliberately playing the religion/race cards, UMNO have carefully avoided making "Malaysianess" the desired objective, contrary to what they should have been doing for the past 50+ years.

5. The Malaysian people should not let UMNO get away with having deliberately trashed "Malaysianess". In fact, it seems as though UMNO specifically concentrated on fomenting strife between (i) Islam and other religions and (ii) Malays and other ethnic groups. Malaysians themselves must therefore urgently resurrect "Malaysianess" from its half-burial if they are to stand any chance at all of voting UMNO out in the next GE!

6. To achieve the goal of resurrecting "Malaysianess", all Malaysians (including the current opposition politicians) must, regardless of ethnic and religious differences, start to develop trust in each other and work together to openly discuss the framework for the fair and just society that is so much needed in Malaysia. If ordinary Malaysians in the street (non-politicians) cannot begin to trust those with different religions or cultures to be committed to building a better Malaysia for all, then there will be no political change through the ballot box possible within the next 100 years! So the concept of "Malaysianess" must be worked at very hard if it is to stand any chance of succeeding – it won't work if it is only a half-hearted attempt!

In my view, whole-heartedly adopting "Malaysianess" doesn't mean burying the differences between the various religious and ethnic groups - it means accepting those differences and showing compassion towards (and complete tolerance of) all others who don't follow your religion, customs or whatever, and recognising in word and deed that all Malaysians are equal in every respect.

My above comments are driven by the fact that, of all the countries in the world, Malaysia probably still stands the best chance of demonstrating that Islam is perfectly capable of offering all its citizens equal opportunities and equal justice in a well developed country that would be the envy of most others, including those supposedly well developed countries in the west. However, right now Indonesia is doing its best to show the world what Islam can do, and it is making great headway ("Look At Us Now!"). Malaysia ought to be able to get there far faster, because it has the very useful advantage of the English language at its disposal!

Sadly, the main thrust of the responses to my previous comment is that, at best, Malaysian Muslims can't be trusted by the rest of Malaysian society to do the right thing, and that my comment is therefore somehow "theoretical". However, I consider that there is nothing "theoretical" about building national unity! It has to be done, or else society will disintegrate! In particular, if something is not done quickly to redress the negative perception about Malaysian Muslims (or to put the situation right if, indeed, that perception is indicative of the way things really are now going inside Malaysia today), then I fear that Malaysia has some extremely tough times ahead. This will mean that Indonesia will be allowed to stand far taller than Malaysia, despite Malaysia's magnificent Twin Towers and its very unique but currently eclipsed "Malaysianess".

Nobody but Malaysians can resurrect "Malaysianess" – Malaysians must become re-united through their own efforts! But, sadly, right now I can't see anybody at all recognising the need to promote "Malaysianess", let alone someone dedicated to driving those unification efforts. That is a pity, because I am confident that there must be many moderate Malaysian Muslims who are sitting on the fence because they are ashamed of the discrimination they see at play by the GOM, but who are afraid of changing their allegiance because of the anti-Malaysian Muslim rhetoric they see every day, especially in the comments posted in MT.

And just because ordinary Malaysians didn't create the religious and racial problems currently being faced in Malaysia, it doesn't mean that they can afford to sit there and do nothing, as if it isn't their problem. It bloody well is their problem, because UMNO made sure it is!

Anyway, now perhaps you can see why I tell my Malaysian friends here in Abu Dhabi (regardless of their ethnic background or which religion they follow) that, if they are not willing to close their eyes to religious and racial differences in Malaysia and embrace "Malaysianess" whole-heartedly, they themselves are therefore part of the problem and can't ever expect a solution for the religious and racial divide that they themselves help to perpetuate!

Warmest regards to you and Marina,


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Malaysian PR KR1M Exposé

By Tony Pua via Malaysian Mirror

Pakatan Rakyat members of parliament have over the past 2 weeks exposed the fact that many of the goods sold in Kedai Rakyat 1Malaysia (KR1M) were not only substandard, illegal and unhealthy, many of these products were also not cheaper than products sold in existing hypermarkets.

We were criticised by the Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister, Ismail Sabri as being unfair by not comparing “apple to apple”, that is we should not be comparing 1Malaysia products with house-branded products from Tesco, Giant or Carrefour.

However, we have proven that the comparison was indeed not “apple to apple” for products such as the “oyster sauce” because the sauce from Tesco contained real oyster extracts, the 1Malaysia product had only flavouring and no oysters.

At the same time, the comparison of 1Malaysia milk powder with that of Nestlé’s Nespray 1+ demonstrated not only that the former is a far inferior product but also the fact that the latter was 24% cheaper. The 1Malaysia milk powder was short of at least 15 legally required vitamins and minerals, deficient in calcium and iron and provided a 802% overdose of Vitamin A, putting at real risk our very young children.

Instead of facing up to the problems, IsmailSabri has chosen to go on an inflammatory rant calling Pakatan Rakyat MPs, DAP and myself racists for allegedly being anti-Malay in our exposés.

Ismail Sabri said on his Facebook and Twitter on Tuesday 15th November 2011 that “tony phua DAP ni masih tk habis2 menfitnah KRIM. kini dgn tuduhan tdk berkualiti. semlm isu ini tlh dijwb oleh Mydin & pembekal IKS. jelas agenda DAP yg ingin menguburkan KRIM yg rata2 supplier nya terdiri dari IKS bumiputra. Rata2 pembeli nya terdiri dari gol berpendapatan rendah bumiputra. Mydin pun bumiputra. malangnya ada bumiputra spt nurul izah & zulkifli 'menyalak' bagi pihak DAP..

The racist accusations made by the Minister is not only completely baseless, it is the complete opposite of what the Pakatan Rakyat MPs are trying to achieve. By exposing the list of poor quality and illegal products which do not meet the minimum legal standards set out in the Food Act 1983 and Food Regulations 1985, it is Pakatan Rakyat that is truly fighting for the interest of the mostly Malay consumers at KR1M as well as other poor Malaysians.

If not for our exposés, many Malays and poor Malaysians will still be consuming poor quality oyster sauce, evaporated millk, ice-cream,sardines and fruit jam sold at KR1M. What is worse, if not for Pakatan Rakyat highlighting the shocking deficiencies of the 1Malaysia children’s milk powder which resulted in the product’s withdrawal yesterday, a whole generation of Malay and poor Malaysian children might end up suffering from malnutrition, disease and poor physical development.

It is the BN Ministers like Ismail Sabri who are more than willing to sacrifice the interest of ordinary Malays and Malaysians by giving unsubstantiated “guarantees” on the quality of KR1M products and pander to the monetary and vested interest of certain businessmen.

The fact that Ismail Sabri’s ministry is going to subsidize theKR1M stores to the tune of RM40 million in 2012 to sell some of these productsto ordinary Malaysians without first ensuring strict quality control over the products shows that BN Ministers are only keep to score political goals with KR1M. They are not at all interested in the welfare of Malaysians, especially the Malays, who will suffer the most.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

White LEDs May Upset Sleep Patterns

Laboratory Equipment

White LEDs May Upset Sleep Patterns

October 17, 2011

You come into contact every day with light-emitting diodes (LEDs)—they illuminate alarm clocks, new televisions, traffic lights, and smart phone displays. Increasingly, you will see white-light versions of LEDs becoming available for energy-efficient home lighting, car headlights, and streetlamps.

What you may not know is that the most common form of white LEDs—which emit a spectrum of colors, including blue light—is inadvertently effective at sending signals to our brain’s biological clock, which regulates daily activities such as sleep.

The realization of the body's special sensitivity to blue light has spurred scientific investigations of whether the light can disrupt our circadian rhythms, the roughly 24-hour cycle in animals that sets the body's patterns for sleep and other biological processes.

While organizations such as the International Dark-Sky Association urge caution on using white LEDs for outdoor nighttime lighting and some scientists are already calling for regulations to ban the outdoor use of blue-rich light, others estimate that the effects are small and caution that more rigorous scientific studies are needed before determining if white LED light has any health impacts at all. Some scientists argue that other factors, such as sleep deprivation and abnormalities in a person's overall 24-hour pattern of exposure to light and dark, may do much more to disrupt circadian rhythms. Epidemiological studies have linked circadian disruptions to health problems, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and obesity, and scientists are trying to determine if light at night—and blue-rich LEDs—are a cause.

Abraham Haim of theUniv. of Haifa in Israel considers white LEDs a form of "light pollution." "What is called 'friendly' environmental illumination is unfriendly," says Haim, who is a chronobiologist, a scientist who studies biological rhythms and cycles in animals. He has conducted studies showing that blue light can disrupt circadian-related hormones in nocturnal animals such as voles, moles and rats.

In the most common design, white LEDs create a mixture of blue and yellow light that the eye sees as white. Other light bulb varieties, including incandescents and compact fluorescents, tend to produce much less blue.

Until the 21st century, scientists only knew of two types of light-sensitive cells in the eye: rods and cones. But in 2001, David Berson from Brown Univ. established that the eyes of mammals contain a third type of cell for absorbing light.

"This has been a very exciting discovery in the whole world of chronobiology and vision research," says Jay Neitz, a professor of ophthalmology at the Univ. of Washington in Seattle. "We always thought rods and cones were responsible for circadian rhythms and then we find there’s a particular cell that [sends signals] to the superchiasmatic nucleus, the brain's central clock important for daily biological rhythms."

The recently discovered type of cell, called intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells, are much smaller in number than other light-sensitive cells—approximately only one of them for every million cones. But they contain a key light-sensitive protein called melanopsin. When light strikes melanopsin, it can trigger the ganglion cells to send signals to the superchiasmatic nucleus, a small brain region that regulates the body's circadian rhythms.

The newly discovered ganglion cells "play the central role" in sending signals from the retina to the brain's circadian system, says Mark Rea, director of the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y. As it turns out, melanopsin proteins are most sensitive to light in the wavelength range between 440 and 460 nanometers—in between indigo and blue. Many white LED designs create blue light centered at around 450 nm.

A 2005 study by chronobiologists in Basel, Switzerland showed that human volunteers exposed for two hours to 460 nm light at night experienced greater reductions in melatonin, a hormone regulated by the body’s circadian system, than when they were exposed to a roughly yellow-green light with a higher-wavelength of 550 nm. Melatonin, in addition to helping the body maintain a regular 24-hour rhythm of wakefulness and sleep, is an antioxidant compound that has been shown to protect biological molecules such as DNA.

In the Oct. 2011 issue of the Journal of Environmental Management, Haim of the Univ. of Haifa and his co-authors calculate that white LED light can reduce melatonin levels five times more than low-pressure sodium lamps, which produce yellow-orange colored lights often seen in parking lots.

Haim and his co-authors call for a "total ban of the outdoor emission of light at wavelengths shorter than 540 nm"—and to go back to older low-pressure sodium lamp designs—"to reduce the effects of decreased melatonin production and circadian rhythm disruption in humans and animals."

They also call for increased consumer awareness and for bulb producers to state the wavelengths of light produced by their bulbs.

However, Rea says that it is important to find out the absolute amount of melatonin reduction, instead of the relative amount, caused by different types of lighting. Five times greater than a small amount may not be great, he says. In addition, he argued, simple calculations based on the spectrum of the light may not accurately determine melatonin reduction. Instead one must take into account other factors, such as the amount, source and duration of exposure to the light, as well as how directly it reaches the observer. "All this stuff matters in terms of predicting what effect you’re going to have," he says.

Haim is aware of these factors and his team would like to follow up with controlled studies that account for them. Meanwhile, Rea and his colleagues are pursuing research on this topic from two angles. First, they have developed a headset to measure light reaching the eye in human subjects over a 24-hour period. They call it the Daysimeter. Measuring the light that actually reaches the eye with calibrated instruments, he says, will be a key next step in getting answers on the effect of light on health problems.

In addition, Rea and colleagues have developed a physiological model of how light reaching the retina is converted into nerve signals that reach the circadian system.

Previous research has established that the degree to which nerve signals stimulate the circadian system determines how much melatonin is reduced. The model accounts for the sensitivity to the eye to different parts of the visible-light spectrum, and the level of light that triggers a signal to various parts of the brain. A brief flash of lightning does not trigger a signal to the circadian system, but a longer exposure to light would.

Applying this model to a hypothetical person under a white LED streetlight for one hour, Rea and colleagues calculate that one hour of exposure can reduce melatonin levels by about 3 to 8 percent.

"A 3 to 8 percent effect on modeling is small but maybe it does matter. I think the science just isn't there yet," he says.

Similar model-based calculations by his group show that light from computer screens and electronic devices such as tablets can reduce melatonin by 7 to 20 percent.

For perspective, Rea offered another example not involving white LED light. He fitted a colleague with a light measurement device when she attended a live hockey game. According to their model’s calculations, this suppressed 20 to 25 percent of her melatonin production.

"But it's not like suppressing to zero," he says, "like you're getting rid of all your melatonin and you go out and look out the window and the streetlight and all of a sudden [you] don't have any melatonin for the rest of the night. That's just not true. So you really have to know the numbers."

Rea believes that looking at light at night alone won’t answer fundamental questions about how the environment can affect the biological clock.

"You find you can’t really talk about light at night without also knowing what you’ve got during the daytime. Taking into account the full 24 hour rhythm is essential," says Rea. "It's just too shallow to talk about melatonin suppression by 3 to 8 percent and draw any conclusions about what is going to be healthy or not healthy."

Haim calls for more detailed epidemiological studies that explore relationships between nighttime light and health problems, by following large populations over long periods of time.

Rea suggests moving beyond epidemiology. He suggests making detailed measurements of people's actual 24-hour light exposure and then designing experiments that create similar light-dark patterns for animals. Then, he says, you could test the hypothesis of whether the light-dark pattern causes health effects.

And there are technological solutions. Wendy Davis, a vision scientist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, says that it is possible with LED technology to create "tunable" light, so that it would produce blue-rich light during the day and blue-poor at night. But whether this will be necessary remains to be seen.

"There is not enough research in circadian disruption to have a position other than we support good, intelligent, properly executed research, and when it's done, we'll review it and see if we need to change anything or what needs to be done," says Alex Boesenberg, manager of regulatory affairs at the National Electrical Manufacturers Association.

Haim says that decisions on indoor and outdoor lighting "must follow chronobiological ideas," and not ignore the biology of humans, wildlife, and other animals. He calls for more studies of animal models that would look for biological effects of light.

Absent definite answers at this point, Rea advised that people keep a fairly consistent 24-hour schedule when possible, which may be the safest way to keep the circadian system in a regular rhythm and not contribute to any possible adverse health effects.

Top US Economist Jeffrey Sachs tricked

Top US Economist Jeffrey Sachs Was ‘Cultivated’ and ‘Influenced’ To Become a ‘Champion’ of Sime Darby – Exclusive!

Posted Saturday, November 12th, 2011

Professor Jeffrey Sachs of The Earth Institute, Columbia University – a ‘champion’ of Sime Darby?

Sarawak Report has uncovered shocking documents, which detail a deliberate and orchestrated campaign by the Malaysian Oil Palm giant, Sime Darby, to court and seduce one of the world’s most celebrated economists into becoming an ‘Ambassador’ for the company.

Jeffrey Sachs is the Professor of Sustainable Development at New York’s Columbia University and was listed by Time Magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

As Head of the University’s Earth Institute, Special Adviser to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and former Director of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, Sachs is famous for his initiatives on reducing world poverty.

Horizon to horizon – Sime Darby’s HQ for its plantations between Miri and Bintulu

Yet, despite the World Bank’s decision to ban further lending to large scale palm oil plantations, because they have been shown to INCREASE poverty, Sime Darby believe, according to these documents, that they have converted Jeffrey Sachs into a valuable ‘champion’ for their company and for Malaysia’s palm oil industry.

Our evidence shows that Sime Darby, Malaysia’s largest oil palm company, hired the disgraced PR outfit FBC Media to ‘cultivate’ and ‘influence’ this key opinion former, so that they could use him as a ‘Third Party Endorser’ in the numerous newspaper advertisements and TV programmes they commissioned to promote their palm oil business.

Professor Sachs praises Sime Darby and the Malaysian Government’s initiative on sustainability in a full page Advertorial in the Herald Tribune, next to CEO Musa Hitam and an ad for Iskandar

For example, in this Herald Tribune full page advertisement Sachs authored a guest piece back in 2008, praising the Malaysian Government and Sime Darby for their supposed initiatives on sustainable development. Alongside, is a second feature by Sime Darby CEO, the former Deputy PM Musa Hitam, and also an advertisement for Malaysia’s development zone, Iskandar.

There is no indication as to who financed the advertisement or whether Professor Sachs received any form of payment. However, we can demonstrate that his Earth Institute has just received a half million dollar donation from Sime Darby towards its projects and that Sachs has personally accepted family trips to Sime Darby’s Carey Island plantation, where he was transported in the company’s private jet.

As part of his substantial write up for the advertorial the professor endorses Sime Darby’s eco-credentials:

“Some promising steps have been taken by Malaysia in recent years, which may set a powerful example for the rest of Asia… The government is working closely with leading companies, such as the palm-oil giant Sime Darby, which have recognized that long-term environmental sustainability is vital to the business interests of serious, law-abiding companies with long-time horizons” [Int Herald Tribune, 20/06/08]

Destructive giant

Yet, the eco-claims of Malaysia, Sime Darby and Iskandar are, of course, highly questionable. The Iskandar part of the advertisement carries the slogan ’Growing In Harmony With Nature’. However, that project has controversially destroyed one of the last remaining mangrove areas on mainland Malaysia and displaced the indigenous Seletar people, the region’s last sea nomads, from their fishing grounds, which are now depleated and polluted by the development.

Cleared for mono-culture – Sime Darby has 47,000 hectares under cultivation in Sarawak

Likewise, Sime Darby, which is controlled by the Malaysian Government, is the world’s largest palm oil company and its vast plantations have destroyed huge areas of Sarawak’s coastal peat forest in the region between Miri and Bintulu and elsewhere.

Apart from the environmental destruction of Borneo’s valuable rainforest, these plantations have alienated Native Customary Lands from local tribes and communities and most of the resulting jobs are poorly paid and have been handed increasingly to immigrant workers and not local people.

Sime Darby’s latest controversial activities have moved outside of Sarawak, where it has planted 47,000 hectares, into Liberia in Africa, where native communities are protesting that the company has been taking their ancestral lands and causing them hardship.

Moving to Africa - Sime Darby is currently up to its old tricks displacing native communities in Liberia. So much for sustainable development.

Indeed, just last month theLiberian Government finedSime Darby US$50,000 for non-compliance with the terms and conditions of their permit. So, it appears that the company is not so law-abiding after all.


The intervention by Sachs was doubtless well-intentioned. However, exclusive documents obtained by Sarawak Report prove that FBC believe they had succeeded in their campaign of ’cultivating’ and ‘influencing’ him and others into becoming one of the useful ‘tools’ they were able to offer their clients for their PR campaigns.

Sachs has appeared in numerous promotional articles and TV programmes commissioned by Sime Darby from FBC, before that company was exposed for its illegal PR activities earlier this year. These programmes included Third Eye on BBC World and CNBC’s World Business Programme.

In a pitch made by FBC to Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud for the multi-million ringgit contract to promote SCORE (Taib’s pet development project) the PR company brags that their successes for Sime Derby included:

“The cultivation of influential ‘ambassadors’, such as The Earth Institute’s Jeffrey Sachs or Dr Reza Azmi, of wild Asia, leading voices on environmental issues”

“Cultivation of influential ‘ambassadors’ such as The Earth Institute’s Jeffrey Sachs” – FBC’s ‘Track Record with Sime Darby’


Such claims can only be embarrassing for Jeffrey Sachs, particularly in the light of the fact that only last year Sime Darby was included in The Earth Institute’s prestigious “Corporate Circle” of companies, described as “dedicated to sustainable development”.

Sime Darby's $500,000 donation to the Earth Institute's Corporate Circle projects on joining last year

The Institute, of which Sachs is the Head, explains “We promote opportunities to join the Earth Institute in building strong links between corporate sustainability and holistic sustainable development”.

At the same time Sime Darby provided a half million dollar donation to support The Earth Institute’s Tropical Agriculture and China programmes.[Our Donors]

Given the claims by FBC, Professor Sachs may now have to consider whether such support and the huge financial gestures he has accepted on behalf of his Institute were merely a cynical ploy on Sime Darby’s part to ‘cultivate and influence’ him as part of the company’s well-funded campaign to counter a mass of environmental criticism about the destructive nature of their business?

‘Corporate Greenwash’

FBC’s presentations make clear that their objective for Sime Darby was to ”counter negative perceptions surrounding the Palm Oil Industry”, through “managing and influencing the news agenda” and “sophisticated corporate messaging within an editorial framework”.

Under one section entitled “Palm Oil’s Sustainable Future: Myth or Reality?” they lay out in detail how they plan to spend a good chunk of the industry’s millions on altering world perception:

“Palm oil…remains surrounded by controversy with its production methods triggering fierce debate and harsh criticism from the ‘green lobby’…..The following slides outline FBC’s production strategy for producing editorially credible content for placement on international, pan-regional broadcasters, helping re-set the debate around palm oil and its sustainability and initiating a wider, more objective dialogue”.

Their presentations also make clear that their strategy was to “cultivate Sime Darby ‘champions’” and “target organisations and opinion formers” who could be quoted in their articles and films.

Targetted opinion-formers – Jeffrey Sachs was top of Sime Darby’s list [FBC Power Point Presentation

FBC go on to explain that their promotions, which posed as objective journalism, would create the appearance of balance by featuring critics, who would then be over-ruled by more sympathetic voices to their clients.

"To keep the reporting balanced, we will interview NGOs leveling criticism at the industry, but then getting responses from the key players in palm oil production from countries such as Malaysia, where sustainable certification is promoted and forest conservation efforts are underway". [FBC Media Presentation]

The strategy, eplains FBC, is to present Sime Darby as a well-meaning company striving towards ‘sustainability’ by making all the right gestures… and also all the right friends. They call it “Moving the Perception Needle’ to create an ‘Environmental Reputation’ for Sime Darby.

Greenwash agenda - disguising the destructive reality of the oil palm business with Green PR about 'sustainability efforts'. Such campaigns do not come cheap, but Sime Darby and Taib Mahmud were prepared to pay!

Sime Darby was paying FBC millions of ringgit to conduct this illegal PR campaign, known as ‘Greenwash’, which is all about perception rather than reality.


Fun for the family? ‘World Sustainability Expert’ Sachs tours Sime Darby’s showcase Carey Island. Pity he did not have time to come and see the destruction of Sarawak

Given this calculated and well-funded agenda and the widespread knowledge about the dangers of ‘Greenwash’ campaigns, one might question the wisdom of Professor Sachs in accepting a family tour for himself, wife and two children to Malaysia and India in 2008, escorted in the Sime Darby private jet.

Insiders have revealed that, throughout the trip to Sime Darby’s showcase plantation on Carey Island, Sachs and his family were accompanied by a then employee of the PR agency APCO, Razi Rahman, which was working for the Malaysian government at the time and continued to have close links with FBC Media.

Sime Darby’s newsletter recorded the event and explained how the Carey Island Managing Director headed a reception team at the airport which then proceeded to show the Sachs family round.

Unfortunately, the Professor did not appear to realise that he was the prime target of an expensive PR effort, which was being ultimately paid for by the people of Malaysia.

Sarawak Report has researched a number of subsequent appearances by Jeffrey Sachs on FBC programmes for CNBC and the BBC, some of which raised eyebrows among those concerned about genuine sustainable development.

Positive programming, masquerading as genuine reporting

Just last June Sachs appeared on FBC’s World Business Programme for two consecutive weeks providing a set piece interview on global warming and sustainability. At the same time he appeared numerous times in a BBC programme Third Eye, focusing on the ‘world food crisis’.

The show painted a picture of imminent catastrophe and starvation if more palm oil was not grown. It also presented a positive picture of the impact of palm oil on Malaysia:

“Third Party Endorser” – Sachs appears on BBC’s Third Eye for FBC Media

“The growing trade in palm oil is providing much needed income to poorer farmers in Malaysia, where living standards are rising. It is also giving jobs to poor people who once owned no land” The programme explains and it features a Malaysian small-holder who is represented as a typical palm oil producer!

By taking part in the programme, Sachs was made to appear to endorse this positive message. However, such claims would not satisfy many poor people in Sarawak, where most of the palm plantations are run by enormous companies like Sime Darby or owned by members of Taib’s family and cronies. In Sarawak it is the poor people who have had their native lands grabbed and handed to plantations, not the other way around.

Job lot – same interview different channel! FBC got two interviews for CNBC out of the Sachs interview, plus the BBC Third Eye.

As for jobs, the plantations prefer to bring in immigrant workers paid as low as RM 8 a day, leaving the locals unemployed. Likewise, those so-called cooperatives run by SALCRA have in fact delivered a pittance in profits for the poor small farmers, since most of the money seems to have been ‘lost’ by the manager of the state-led enterprise, Deputy PM Alfred Jabu!

Few people in Sarawak would therefore recognise the story being painted by FBC Media of people being made better off by palm plantations. Rather, they would understand the findings of the World Bank, which concluded that large scale palm plantations make the local people poorer, because they lose their lands to big plantation businesses, like Sime Darby.

However, BBC’s Third Eye programme on palm oil, which was produced and scripted by FBC as a supposedly objective documentary ,closely followed the strategy below, laid out in FBC’s proposal documents for the Malaysian Palm Oil Industry:

“The programme will put a particular focus on small farm holders – to emphasise the often overlooked fact that these constitute the majority of players in an industry too often associated to large corporate interests…… We should take the Malaysian example as a sign to reassess many assumptions about the environmental impact of industry in the developing world, and remember that our well-meaning sentimentality can have profoundly negative consequences for people trying to work their way out of poverty.”

Likewise, Jeffrey Sachs, who appeared throughout the programme, was blatantly used to re-enforce the Sime Darby message, having been allocated the role of a so-called “Third Party Ambassador” or “Third Pary Endorser” for the company.
Sachs cultivated as a ‘Third Party Endorser’?

World-wide corruption through Greenwash millions

Our evidence shows that Professor Sachs was not the only apparently unwitting ’tool’ of Sime Darby. Others too have been pawns of the palm oil industry’s strategy of cultivating third party champions. By allowing themselves to be ‘cultivated and influenced’ in this way, these highly-regarded ‘ambassadors’ have done no service to the genuine poor of Sarawak and Malaysia, whom they claim to be trying to help.

FBC's 'One Square Mile' for BBC World was paid for by Taib as one of the PR opportunities to present his government in a good light. The programme presented a picture of a government trying to help the people and ignored the logging, land grabs and plantation problems.

To the contrary they have merely performed a highly funded service for the rich land-grabbers, who are behind the destruction of the environment that these ‘sustainability gurus’ claim they are trying to save.

Likewise, the television companies which queued up to provide a platform for these FBC sponsored programmes, because they came so cheaply.

They should remember that their cheap programming has come at great expense to the desperate communities of Sarawak, who deserve honest reporting about their plight, and also to the tax-payers of Malaysia, who have funded FBC to the tune of millions of ringgit for this deceptive PR.

BBC, CNBC, CNN and all the global broadcasters who regularly carried biased programming by FBC media to promote big businesses and the Malaysian and Sarawak State Governments, should all now come to Sarawak and fully report on the real problems behind the destruction of the Borneo Rainforest and the suffering of its people.

Political corruption, big agri-business and lawlessness are the problems that need to be identified and addressed. Instead we got Greenwash.

The Orang Asli need help, not insults

The Orang Asli need help, not insults The forest means many things to the Orang Asli, but first and foremost it is home. For timber mer...