(KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA) Jacob Dungau Sagan, Malaysia's controversial Deputy Minister for International Trade and Industry, denies having 'betrayed' his constituents for multi-million ringgit worth of timber concessions in return for him supporting the MYR 4billion (USD 1.3billion) Baram dam in his parliamentary constituency in Sarawak, Borneo.
In an article published today by The Star, Malaysia's largest english-speaking newspaper, Sagan said he was studying the allegations against him but "would not reply in public". He also said he would "reply to the accusations in detail at a proper time" after having consulted his lawyers. "These accusations are the work of certain politicians who are collaborating with non-governmental organisations to tarnish me".
Sagan had come under fire last week after the whistleblower website, Sarawak Report, published official records showing that the politician, his wife and daughter were the secret shareholders of Milisha Holdings and Winjac Sdn Bhd. The two companies are involved in the felling and trading of Belian (Borneo ironwood), an endangered tropical hardwood species. Another company related to Sagan, Dema Tega Sdn Bhd, had received public contracts worth MYR 63 million (USD 20 million) for road repairs and other construction works.
Sagan is a key supporter of Abdul Taib Mahmud, Sarawak's extremely corrupt Chief Minister. The allegations against him have been reported by the UK-based Timber Trade Journal, the US-based Environment News Service and by Scoop, an independent New Zealand news agency. It is believed that Sagan's corrupt business activities are undermining Malaysia's credibility in international trade talks.
Earlier this week, Baru Bian, the Sarawak head of PKR, a Malaysian opposition party, called for Jacob Sagan to resign immediately.
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