Sunday, April 27, 2008

How Much Is Enough For Taib Mahmud, His Family & Cronies?

Extracts from David Brown's doctoral dissertation "Why Governments Fail to Capture Economic Rent: The Unofficial Appropriation of Rain Forest Rent by Rulers in Insular Southeast Asia Between 1970 and 1999" (374 pages) will be posted in Sarawak Headhunter from time to time, but those who want to download, read, keep and distribute the whole dissertation will find it here or if the site is unavailable, just send an email to Sarawak Headhunter.

Taib Mahmud concessions


It is a commonly thought that 1.6 million hectares in timber concessions are held by Chief Minister Taib Mahmud and his relatives and political allies (New Sunday Times 1987). In my own calculations, I found almost one million hectares in Taib family timber holdings, spread across 20 concessions. This degree of direct corporate control by a state leader over a market share of this size is unique among the cases studied in this dissertation. A search of the articles of incorporation of these 20 concessions show directorships and shareholdings awarded to members of the chief minister's family, his proxies, and political supporters including the two largest parties in the Sarawak Alliance, the Chinese SUPP and the chief minister’s own party, the PBB.[1]


[1] A tense moment came while I was reviewing the list of managers and equity holders in Taib Mahmud timber concessions with a member of the PBB, State Assemblyman Aidan Wing. Until this interview took place, relations had been quite amicable between Wing and myself. Here we were, three days into a relaxed journey whose highlights included meeting Wing's lovely family, and then flying to the small coastal town of Mukah, the epicenter of the Melanau. The first two days of the journey, Wing had treated me to dinner with the male elders of Mukah - featuring the delicacy of raw sago worms - and a day-long drive along the coast with Baijuri Kipli (about whom, see the discussion of the KTS group’s Malkita timber concession in Table 4.11). However, when I got around to asking Wing about holders of managerial and equity positions in the Chief Minister’s timber concessions, Wing’s answers, quite precise at first, became fewer and farther between, and increasingly vague. Finally, he stopped answering altogether, and we were left in silence. Wing looked down for quite a long time, and looked up into my eyes and asked, without smiling, "Where did you get his list? These are all PBB companies" (6 June 1997 interview). After this, although our trip together continued for another five days, Wing kept me at arm's length. Entire days went by without my seeing him once. Relations between us were never the same.

Table 4.6 Timber concessions controlled by Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud in which his family members, friends, proxies or political allies are board members or shareholders.

Name of timber concession

Name of board member or shareholder

Position in or percentage of shares held in company

Relationship to current chief minister, source of information.

Bumi Hijau,

26,000 hectares

Douglas Sallang

Director

Former Senator (28 May 1997 interview with a Sarawak journalist, 6 June 1997 interview with State Assemblyman Aidan Wing). PBB nominee (12 August 1997 interview with James Chin).

Gayasar, 25,006 hectares

Abang Abdul Karim Tun Abg. Hj. Openg

Director

Elder brother of one of the chief minister’s most important ministers, Abang Johari, the Minister Industry (28 May 1997 interview with a Sarawak journalist).

Kedasa, 41,000 hectares

Bok Kok Pheng, Wee Ai Choo

Directors

Nominees for SUPP, one of four parties that make up the Sarawak Alliance (12 August 1997 interview with James Chin).

Pasin, size unknown; Rinki, 33,300 hectares

Wahab bin Haji Dollah, Assistant Minister for Infrastructure Development (28 May 1997 interview with a Sarawak journalist).

Director and 50 percent shareholder

Known as "Giant Killer" because he defeated former Chief Minister Tun Rahman in the state assembly elections in the aftermath of the 1987 Ming Court affair. Acted on the CM's behalf in an attempt to obtain editorial control of the Borneo Post, where he is now a shareholder. Together with the chief minister's first cousin, Hamid Sepawi, Dollah owns 25 percent of parent company of Utusan Sarawak newspaper. He serves as political lieutenant of Taib, by controlling the political activities, and seeing to the material needs, of eight PBB state assemblymen. He is a strong public proponent of continued Melanau leadership in Sarawak. Dollah is said to have been awarded eight timber concessions by Taib (Sayottaib 2001: sulit 6, dokumen 1-4), although this study identified only five. Dollah makes profits from his timber concessions available to PBB during election time (10 June 1997 interview with Kueh Yong Ann).

Pasin, size unknown

Dollah Ahmat Usop

Director

A relative of Wahab Dollah (6 June 1997 interview with State Assemblyman Aidan Wing).

Pasin, size unknown

Dolek bin Hj Mit

Director

A close friend and associate of Wahab Dollah (28 May 1997 interview with a Sarawak journalist) and/or Wahab Dollah’s cousin (6 June 1997 interview with State Assemblyman Aidan Wing).

Pasin, size unknown

Sharkawi Haji Bohari

Director

Former associate of Wahab Dollah. A former official of Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (7 June 1997 interview with State Assemblyman Aidan Wing). A “Taib nominee” (12 August 1997 interview with James Chin).


Table 4.6 (continued) Timber concessions controlled by Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud in which his family members, friends, proxies or political allies are board members or shareholders.

Name of timber concession

Name of board member or shareholder

Position in or percentage of shares held in company

Relationship to current chief minister, source of information.

Rajang Wood,

309,575 hectares Raplex, 72,251 hectares

Abdillah Bin Haji Abdul Rahim

Director

A former General Manager of Sarawak Timber Industrial Development Corporation (18 August 1997 interview with Raphael Pura). Federal Senator (4 June 1997 interview with a state assemblyman, and 6 June 1997 interview with State Assemblyman Aidan Wing).

Raplex, 72,251 hectares

Datuk Haji Bujang Mohd. Nor

Director

Former State Secretary of Sarawak under Chief Minister Taib, from the early-to-middle 1980s (26 May 1997 interview with a reliable and informed academic). Former State Financial Secretary. Former chair of Bakun Hydroelectric Electric Corporation (28 May 1997 interview with a Sarawak journalist). Current Executive Chairman of Harwood. His position on the board of Raplex may be a golden handshake for having held one or more of the posts discussed above (12 August 1997 interview with James Chin).

Rinki, 33,300 hectares

Abdul Hamid Haji Sepawi

Director and 50 percent shareholder

First cousin to the chief minister, and an important business figure in the CM’s family (6 June 1997 interview with State Assemblyman Aidan Wing). Abdul Hamid is “holding part of the money” for the chief minister (11 June 1997 interview with former Assistant Minister of Finance Patau Ubis).

Sarako, 36,000 hectares; Sarimas, 32,000 hectares

Bustari Yusof

Director and 55 percent shareholder; Director

Although Bustari denies he is a nominee of the chief minister, one source insists that he is. Those who wish to settle the matter for themselves can go to Bustari’s reported watering hole, the Margarita Lounge at the Kuching Hilton (12 August 1997 interview with James Chin).

Sarako, 36,000 hectares

Dulang Holdings

3 percent shareholder

A company run by Bustari Yusof (13 June 1997 interview with well-placed and knowledgeable source in Sarawak).

Seatex Plantations, 30,000 hectares

Hj. Osman Tan

Sri Marzuki

Director, 17 percent shareholder

Son of a former acting Governor of Sarawak (28 May 1997 interview with Jack Wong).

Name of timber concession

Name of board member or shareholder

Position in or percentage of shares held in company

Relationship to current chief minister, source of information.

Seatex Plantations, 30,000 hectares

Hj Khalid Tan Sri Marzuki

Director, 21 percent shareholder

Not only the son of a former acting Governor of Sarawak, but also a former Political Secretary to Chief Minister Taib (28 May 1997 interview with a Sarawak journalist). The current Political Secretary to Minister of Industry Abang Johari, one of the most powerful members of the current cabinet (9 June 1997 interview with Sim Kwang Yang).

Timplex, 31,500 hectares

Ting Ming Hoi, former Sibu senator, now deceased.

Director

James Chin says that Ting Ming Hoi is a "SUPP nominee" (12 August 1997 interview).

Timplex, 31,500 hectares

Tai Sing Chii

Director

S.K. Lau writes that “when he was having trouble raising political funds in 1970, Tun Abdul Rahman Yakub turned his target to Tai Sing Chii, owner of Pan Sarawak, and hoped that he could ‘borrow’ three units of outboard engine and a few hundred khatis of rice from the latter. Later . . . staff of the company disclosed that Tai Sing Chii had donated about 3,000 dollars to Yakub. So after the latter came to power, he repaid Tai Sing Chii for his donation for more than 3,000 times of the amount donated. As a whole, Tai Sing Chii had made a wise decision. Yakub could still remember him several years after he stepped down from the post of Chief Minister. One day, when we met at Singapore . . . Airport, he still praised . . . Tai Sing Chii. . . . After Yakub lost his power, all of us thought Tai Sing Chii had lost his strong backing also. It seemed that he was finished. But he turned to support Taib. Since then, he got richer and richer” (Lau 1995: chapter 18, page 1).

Timplex, 31,500 hectares

Tuan Haji Abdul Rahim Tai

Director

Brother to deceased SUPP nominee Ting Ming Hoi (19 July 1997 interview with Chiew Chin Sing).

Timplex, 31,500 hectares

Y.M Tunku Zuhri Bin Tunku Zakaria

Director

Member of one of the royal families of Sarawak (28 May 1997 interview with a Sarawak journalist).

Timplex, 31,500 hectares

Abang Mohd. Bin Abang Sharkawi

Director

Son of a former Resident of Sarawak (6 June 1997 interview with State Assemblyman Aidan Wing).

Timplex, 31,500 hectares

Awang Jaya bin Pengiran Tajuddin

Director

Former treasurer of PBB's Bintulu branch (19 July 1997 interview with Chiew Chin Sing).


6 comments:

The Wise Guy said...

After reading this entry (which I must admit, send shivers down my spine) I just can't fathom or believe that the natives of Sarawak still have so much patience to stomach such blatant acts of daylight robbery under their very eyes. Well..after this revelation (thx 2 u Sarawak Headhunter), if these same natives STILL allow "misappropriation" to continue...may the Almighty have mercy on ALL of US.

Antares said...

Thanks to Malaysia Today I discovered this highly laudable blog. I salute the wonderful warrior energy you bring to the web and your work on behalf of Sarawak's rich natural and cultural heritage. Mother Earth sends her love. I shall immediately add you to my blogroll!

Anonymous said...

i think Abdul Rahim Tai was actually the brother of Tai Sing Chii..

Anonymous said...

Top Ten Jabu's most visionary (but ridiculously no-brainer) ideas so far:

10. Buah Kepayang is the next golden fruit and should be commercialised big-scale. Cynide paste should be traded at RM5000/ metric tonne. Cynide Futures trading from Bursa soon.
9. Ikan Terubok rearing using kelambu for large-scale project to avoid extinction. Ever heard of high-tensile PVC aqua netting?
8. Tricycle subsidy for rural Dayak folks as alternative transport. Donkeys, Ilamas should be an optional upgrade. Hee-Haa!
7. Santubong bridge is ok! The hairline cracks should be no worry. ( err..sweat! ::) Declared safe by a non qualified engineer or maybe self-declared engineer Ir.Jabu? Anyway, it's a world's first.
6. "State JKR better than federal JKR in handling govt projects." His theme song enthuastically repeated for 2007 all year round. DAMA 2008 Song Of The Year nominee.
5. MRSM Betong college marks the sleepy ghost town Betong as the next education hub. Expect the formation Faculty of Nyabungology and Tuakology. Another world's first.
4. "My new Camry got no good battery." (It's a gift car/ numpang car shh! so he just leave it for 2 weeks, cannot start and eventually stall.) That's Toyota Camry Numpang Limited Edition.
3. My wifey got senator, now that's what we called symbolic appointment. Passed a bill at Dewan Negara that declared munching 'sugis'/ tobacco is legal and mandatory at any longhouse.
2. NCR land systematically grabbed (read:Salcra) for palm oil is good, good, good!
1. Dayaks to be united under Pakatan Rakyat Sarawak soon? Parai kitai! Akai, akai, akai!

Anonymous said...

Sir. Your information is great. Some kind of political economy analysis. But I had realized that your information is more to Tun Rahman era not Taib era. Please clarify this for more credible news. If you can differentiate this it will make your news greater. Thanks

Anonymous said...

Get your facts right. Tuan Haji Abdul Rahim Tai is not the brother of Ting Ming Hoi.