Prince Charles is known for speaking out on good causes and for having a strong moral instinct. However, on this visit to Malaysia he will have been urged by the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office to zip his lips and give its deeply tainted Prime Minister, Najib Razak, a pre-election boost.
The purpose of the visit is ostensibly to celebrate Malaysian Independence, which is a worthy aim. However, given the present crisis of governance and the global corruption scandal on the part of the Prime Minister, NGO’s have questioned the UK’s willingness to appear to condone and endorse a mega-thief.
The reasons for that would seem less worthy and the product of behind-the-scenes skullduggery. A PR company owned by individuals with powerful political links to the present UK government has received a fat contract from Najib, according to documents seen by Sarawak Report. The same individuals have strong political and trading ties with Malaysia and are pledged in this contract to assist Najib during his election campaign.
On his way back from seeing Donald Trump in September Najib also visited Theresa May in the UK on a low-key lightening visit. There was no announcement about what was discussed, but the UK has been chasing major arms sale contracts with Najib, who was Defence Minister back at the time of the Arms for Aid scandal, which embroiled the government of Margaret Thatcher.
Relations between the two countries appear to be back in the same place with many of the same players.
Letter From Prince Charles
By contrast Prince Charles is a passionate defender of indigenous peoples and the environment. Back in 2009 he wrote a personal letter to the Editor of Sarawak Report in which he kindly praised her for her concerns about the deforestation of Sarawak and the treatment of the native people who have lost their lands:
“Dear Clare…. I do greatly admire your intrepid undertaking … You may not know, but I went to Indonesia last November.. and I spoke about the whole rainforest issue and about my own Rainforest Project, which I had initiated a year before, having been approached in desperation by several of the experts who told me we faced the dire prospects of losing the battle against catastrophic climate change unless we could at least halt deforestation…
Your letter and D.V.D. have only too clearly highlighted the urgency of the situation we face and I have asked the Director of my Prince’s Rainforests Project to contact you to ensure you are fully briefed as soon as possible on where things stand and to discuss how we could help you and you could help us!… It was marvellous of you to write as you did – don’t worry, I’m doing my best on this whole crucial business and refuse to leave any stone unturned until we have, somehow, cracked the problem…. Yours most sincerely Charles”
The Prince’s letter and the meeting with his trust were heartening and inspiring and the Editor of Sarawak Report has indeed responded over the subsequent years by doing her level best to bring the corruption driving deforestation and human rights abuses in Sarawak to public attention, particularly within Malaysia itself, and especially Sarawak, where the media is heavily controlled by those who have benefitted from the plunder involved.
In 2009, after filming in Sarawak’s interior, we also delivered gifts presented by Penan tribespeople to the Palace of St James. These were products of their handcraft offered to the Queen, Prince Charles and Prince William and the gifts came with a plea, which was that the British Royal Family should lend their support to their desperate plight, as they try to protect remaining virgin forest in what was once the most bio-diverse and important natural region on the planet.
Prince Charles cares deeply about these matters and about human rights and fairness towards native peoples. He has made this clear throughout his life and they are noble and correct concerns. Sarawak Report and other NGOs believe that the Prince ought not to be silent on these issues or on the problems of oppression and corruption in high places when he visits Malaysia, since some things are simply more important than the hope of selling arms to a country that does not need them.
Click below to read the joint statement by Suaram International and Global Bersih: