Sarawak Energy Nominated as Most Despicable Corporation of the Year

Malaysian energy company Sarawak Energy has been nominated for the Public Eye’s 2014 award for ‘worst company of the year.’ Swiss NGO the Bruno Manser Fund submitted the nomination based on the energy giant’s repeated human rights violations and its record of environmental destruction.

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Sarawak Energy nominated as worst company of the year

(DAVOS, SWITZERLAND / KUCHING, MALAYSIA) Every year, the most despicable corporation is selected during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. In January 2014, Malaysian power supplier and dam developer, Sarawak Energy, will be among the contenders for the “Public Eye” negative award. The nomination of Sarawak Energy by the Swiss NGO Bruno Manser Fund has been officially accepted by the hosts of the award. 

At the “Public Eye”, companies with a track record of human rights violations, environmental destruction, exploitation of their workers or involvement in corruption have to face the critical eye of the international public. The two worst companies of the year are elected by an independent jury and a public vote and then receive the so-called Public Eye Award. The contenders’ conduct is scrutinized by the renowned Institute of Business Ethics at the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland. 

Sarawak Energy is being nominated for the 2014 award because of its offences in the categories of human and indigenous rights violations, environmental destruction and corruption in the context of a dam initiative it has taken. The company is currently implementing a series of at least 12 dams in Sarawak’s rainforest. The dams will flood at least 1600km2 of rainforest and displace tens of thousands of indigenous people. 

Sarawak Energy has been in the news lately on account of the shocking human rights situation at the Murum Dam: a lack of consultation with the affected communities, delayed environmental assessments, reports of sexual abuse of local women by men working on the dam, workers receiving very little pay at the dam site and angry indigenous people affected by the dams who are blocking construction work at the dam site in a bid to receive fair compensation. 


Local groups have repeatedly filed complaints with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission against the Norwegian CEO of Sarawak Energy, Torstein Dale Sjøtveit, for unduly favouring companies controlled by Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud in the award of contracts. The opposition party – the Democratic Action Party (DAP) – has recently announced an online campaign to press for the sacking of Sarawak Energy’s Norwegian CEO. Sjøtveit is responsible for the company’s corrupt practices as well as its numerous human rights abuses. 

The Bruno Manser Fund (BMF) has initiated the nomination, which has been endorsed by Sarawak’s SAVE Rivers Network as well as by BRIMAS, SUARAM, International Rivers, the Borneo Project, Rainforest Foundation Norway and Tasmania’s Huon Valley Environment Centre. The Bruno Manser Fund’s Executive Director, Lukas Straumann, said: “Sarawak Energy’s conduct combines gross disregard for the environment and indigenous peoples with massive corruption. We believe the Malaysian power supplier is one of the top contenders for the “Public Eye” award.” 

In October, an independent jury will decide whether Sarawak Energy will be shortlisted for an online vote open to the international public. The awards will be made in January 2014 when the world’s political and economic leaders meet up in the Swiss mountain resort of Davos on the occasion of the World Economic Forum (WEF). 

For more information on the “Public Eye”, check out the official website: 

(23 September 2013)

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