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Malaysia Denies Corrupt Forestry Dealings Claim

According to an article in the Sydney Morning Herald (July 22), a leaked Australian government document accused Malaysian logging companies of corrupting several Pacific island nations. The confidential briefing paper reached journalists as a result of a security lapse on the part of the Australian Treasurer's Department. According to the Herald, the document described politicians' drinking habits and called one PNG minister a "lickspittle". South Pacific leaders have condemned the document.

The paper also reported that the document claims PNG ministers had "corrupt dealings, especially with Malaysian loggers", making them "even more vulnerable to manipulation". It also quoted the document as accusing Solomons Prime Minister Solomon Mamaloni of "buying support with Malaysian forestry interests" to oust former Prime Minister Billy Hilly in 1994.

The Herald reported that Malaysian Foreign Minister, Mr Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, denied that Malaysia wanted to influence Pacific politicians."If our approaches are accepted by them", he asked in the Herald, "why should I listen to those who don't agree with them?"

Many observers, including former Prime Minister Paul Keating, have expressed alarm at the rate of destruction of rainforests in Pacific Island nations.

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