BMF welcomes departure of Norwegian heading Sarawak Energy

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KUCHING: The Bruno Manser Fund (BMF) has welcomed the non-renewal of Norwegian national and Sarawak Energy CEO Torstein Sjøtveit’s contract. It hopes a new CEO will mean transparency and accountability at Sarawak Energy (SE).

“Sometimes NGO work requires patience,” said BMF in a statement. “It’s never too late to SCORE (score) a victory.”

The NGO was commenting on a report that Sjøtveit’s contract has not been renewed and will expire in October 2016. “Sjøtveit will leave Malaysia and return to Norway.”

SCORE, which SE supplies, stands for Sarawak Corridor for Renewable Energy.

BMF believes Sjøtveit’s contract was not renewed because Sarawak Chief Minister Adenan Satem cancelled the 1500 MW Baram Dam, the Norwegian’s pet project as Sarawak Energy CEO.

“Obviously, Sjøtveit failed to gain the trust of Sarawak’s new political leader,” said BMF. “He will be replaced by Sharbini Suhaili, a Sarawakian from Kuching, and currently Petronas Group Vice-President for Health, Safety, Security and Environment.”

“He’s also a member of SE’s Executive Committee.”

Sjøtveit, a trained civil engineer, joined SE in late 2009 under then Chief Minister Taib Mahmud.

Sjøtveit failed to rebut corruption allegations by BMF in its 2013 report “Complicit in Corruption — Taib Mahmud’s Norwegian Power Man.” BMF filed a complaint against Sjøtveit with Okokrim, Norway’s economic crime agency.

In February 2014, Okokrim decided not to initiate criminal proceedings against Sjøtveit, stating that “even though this case regards allegations about gross corruption, the actions were in Malaysia.”

Okokrim informed Malaysia’s Anti-Corruption Commission, MACC, about the case, said the BMF statement.

“Sjøtveit’s greatest blow came in late 2015 when Adenan decided to put on hold the Baram Dam, a key project of the CEO’s plans for Sarawak’s enforced energy development.”

In March 2016, said the NGO, the project was definitely stalled and the lands gazetted for the Baram dam were returned to indigenous owners.