Tuesday, April 29, 2008

How Taib Uses Timber To Divide and Rule The Ibans

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" (375 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.

Chief Minister Taib also uses his timber concessions to buy the loyalty of the leaders of the largest ethnic group in Sarawak, the Iban, who comprise about 30 percent of the population. Taib and his predecessor both belong to the Melanau, a small coastal group. The Melanau, to ensure their political ascendancy, bind themselves to the state's Malay population, and play a delicate game of divide and rule with the rest of the state’s large groups (see Table 4.7 below). A newsmagazine interviewed a Sarawak Malay politician who described the political arithmetic that makes the Iban a threat to the Melanau.


‘Let's face it. One day they will rule the state. They have the numbers,’ a Sarawak Malay politician said. To date, Sarawak's 20% Malays and 5% Melanau have only held power by banding together, while the Iban have scattered their support across three parties (FEER 1989b).

A substantial group of the timber concessions widely regarded as belonging to Taib have been awarded by him to selected Iban leaders, who in turn have been pivotal to Taib's strategy of keeping the Iban from putting together an electoral majority to defeat him.

Taib must buy the support of the sons of two famous Iban leaders. Their fathers, now dead, led the Iban during most of the twentieth century. The sons are highly visible board members and shareholders in Taib family timber concessions. The most important Iban leader during much of the pre- and post-World War II period was Temonggong Koh
[1] who died in the 1940s. His son, Kenneth Kanyan, is a senator in the upper house of the Sarawak State Assembly (27 May 1997 interview with a reliable and informed academic).

After Temonggong Koh’s death, the successor to the position of traditional head of the Iban was Temonggong Jugah. Although he died in the 1970s, Temonggong Jugah’s son Leonard Linggi is now the powerful second-in-command of the Christian wing of the PBB party. The importance of this position is that for all PBB Christians who wish to run as state or federal candidates, including Iban, Bidayuh, and the dozens of groups who make up the Orang Ulu, Leonard Linggi "decides whether you can run or not" (4 June 1997 interview with State Assemblyman Aidan Wing). Linggi is also the General Secretary of the PBB party (26 May 1997 interview with a well-place and knowledgeable source in Sarawak).


Also of political significance is the fact that during the Ming Court affair, the two still-living Iban mentioned above, Kenneth Kanyan, the son of Temonggong Koh and Leonard Linggi, the son of Temonggong Jugah, stood by Chief Minister Taib Mahmud in his hour of need.


Although Sarawakians do not know the specifics about the timber concession holdings of various Iban leaders, they have a general idea of who has come out on top. For example, State Assemblyman Aidan Wing described Leonard Linggi as "the richest Iban" in Sarawak with "a half million hectares in timber concessions" (4 June 1997 interview).
[2]

In exchange for directorships and equity positions in timber concessions, Iban leaders bring in the vote of their community at election time. Other than election time bribes, timber rent is not redistributed to the larger Iban community (27 May 1997 interview with a reliable and informed academic).
[3]

A point worth re-emphasizing is that, with one exception,
[4] all timber concessions in which Iban leaders hold managerial or equity positions are those said to be licensed to Chief Minister Taib himself. These concessions are listed in Table 4.8.


[1] “Temonggong” is an Iban title conferred upon a supreme leader. Wearing a suit, but still sporting the distinctive bowl-shaped haircut favored by many Iban until a few decades ago, photographs of Temonggong Koh can be seen in historical displays in Kuching’s Sarawak Museum and the Singapore National Museum. During his life, Temonggong Koh was a major political force to be reckoned with, as he founded the Iban political party Barjasa, which eventually joined forces with the Melanau-led PBB. (* Probably meant Pesaka, formed with Jugah. Barjasa was actually formed by Tuanku Haji Bujang, Rahman Ya'kub and Taib, which later joined Panas to form Parti Bumiputera and later merged with Pesaka to form PBB or Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu).

[2] I asked Wing when he would be awarded a timber concession. He answered, "Perhaps in my second term. Timber concessions are rarely given out to first term state assemblymen. They are not awarded until state assemblymen have proved their political loyalty and staying power” (4 June 1997 interview).

[3] The lack of distribution of timber benefits to the grassroots by senior Iban political figures was confirmed by a well-placed and knowledgeable source in Sarawak, who told me that Linggi rarely, if ever, shares timber rent with other Iban (26 May 1997 interview).

[4] That exception is Garu, a timber concession is licensed to the Rimbunan Hijau conglomerate.

Table 4.8 Taib family timber concessions in which Iban political leaders are board members or shareholders

Name of Taib family timber concession

Name of Iban board member or shareholder

Position in or percentage of shares held in company

Leadership position within the Iban community, source(s) of information

Balleh Sawmill, 24,673 hectares.

Jugah Anak Bareng

11 percent shareholder

This is Temonggong Jugah, the now-deceased but once-supreme leader of the Iban (4 June 1997 interview with a Sarawak state assemblyman).

Balleh Sawmill, 24,673 hectares

Tiong Anak Anding

11 percent shareholder

Wife of the late Temonggong Jugah (4 June 1997 interview with a Sarawak state assemblyman).

Bumi Hijau,

26,000 hectares;

Garu,

44,847 hectares;

Kerasa,

49,996 hectares; Rajang Wood, 309,575 hectares; Raplex, 72,251 hectares.

Kenneth Kanyan ak Koh

Director; Director & 42 percent shareholder;

Director;

Director;

Director

Son of Temonggong Koh, the most important Iban leader in the pre- and post-World War II period. Kenneth Kanyan is now a Senator in the Sarawak State Assembly. He was a strong loyalist to Taib in the 1987 Ming Court affair.

Bumi Hijau,

26,000 hectares; Sarako, 36,000 hectares

Richard Mullok, nephew to, and proxy for, Alfred Jabu (6 June 1997 interview with State Assemblyman Aidan Wing)

Director; Director, 42 percent shareholder

Alfred Jabu is the Deputy Chief Minister, and as such is “the highest ranking non-Malay in Sarawak” (27 May 1997 interview with a reliable and informed academic). He was one of two men to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Chief Minister Taib during the critical 10 March 1987 press conference during the Ming Court affair (Ritchie 1987: 22). He is a PBB nominee (12 August 1997 interview with James Chin)

Garu, 44,847 hectares

Temonggong Jinggut Ak Attan

Director and 39 percent shareholder

Traditional head of all Iban in the 7th and 3rd divisions of the Rejang River basin. This is a position that would have otherwise have fallen to Leonard Linggi, except that Linggi spends all his time in Kuching now, and is seldom on the ground in the Rejang River basin, as would befit a Temonggong (7 June 1997 interview with Joseph Jinggut).

Garu, 44,847 hectares

Robert Jarraw Ak Kana

Director, and nine percent shareholder

Son-in-law of Temonggong Jinggut ak Attan, traditional head of all Iban in the 7th and 3rd divisions of the Rejang River basin (6 June 1997 interview with State Assemblyman Aidan Wing).


Table 4.8 (continued) Taib family timber concessions in which Iban political leaders are board members or shareholders

Name of Taib family timber concession

Name of Iban board member or shareholder

Position in or percentage of shares held in company

Leadership position within the Iban community, source(s) of information

Garu, 44,847 hectares

Joseph Jinggut

Director

Holds position of Wakil Kota (head of the local council) in the city of Kapit (7 June 1997 interview with Joseph Jinggut). He and his brother Justine Jinggut were two of four persons placed into leadership positions in the SNAP party in 1987 to replace those sacked or suspended as a result of their disloyalty to Chief Minister Taib during the Ming Court affair (Ritchie 1987: 34). Joseph's brother Justine is now Secretary General of SNAP (29 May 1997 interview with Dominique Ng). Joseph says his brother Justine was elevated to the position of Secretary General of SNAP because "in the present political climate, the important thing is for SNAP to reach some political accommodation with the PBB, not to be a thorn in their side. My brother has accomplished this" (7 June 1997 interview).

Keresa Timber,

49,996 hectares; Rajang Wood, 309,575 hectares;

Raplex, 72,251 hectares.

Leonard Linggi ak Jugah, son of Temonggong Jugah, traditional head of the Iban from the 1940s to 1970s.

Director, 50 percent shareholder; Director, 50.2 percent of shares through Limar Management Services, Rajang Resources (13 June 1997 interview with well-placed and knowledgeable source in Sarawak), and Silver Wood Company (12 August 1997 interview with James Chin); Director

Leonard Linggi holds no elected position, but is second in command of the “Christian wing” of the PBB party. The importance of Linggi’s position is that for all Iban, Bidayuh, Orang Ulu, or Christian who wish to run as a state or federal candidates representing the PBB, Leonard Linggi "decides whether you can run or not" (6 June 1997 interview with State Assemblyman Aidan Wing). Linggi is also General Secretary of PBB (26 May 1997 interview with well-placed and knowledgeable source in Sarawak). Linggi is described as a PBB "money man," meaning the PBB comes to him for funds at campaign time (29 May 1997 interview with Dominique Ng).

Keresa Timber,

49,996

hectares

Edmund Erong ak Jugah

Director

Adopted brother of Leonard Linggi (4 June 1997 interview with a Sarawak state assemblyman). Edmund is mentally challenged (12 August 1997 interview with James Chin).


Name of Taib family timber concession

Name of Iban board member or shareholder

Position in or percentage of shares held in company

Leadership position within the Iban community, source(s) of information

Keresa Timber,

49,996

hectares

Datuk Temonggong Bayang Janting

Director

Father-in-law of Leonard Linggi (4 June 1997 interview with a Sarawak state assemblyman).

Rajang Wood, 309,575 hectares

Douglas Ugah Embas

Director, holder of a single share.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Rural Development (6 June 1997 interview with State Assemblyman Aidan Wing). Member of federal parliament representing Betong district (9 June 1997 interview with former federal parliamentarian Sim Kwang Yang).

Sarimas, 30,000 hectares

Datin Empian Jabu, proxy for and wife to Alfred Jabu

Director

Alfred Jabu is the Deputy Chief Minister, and as such is “the highest ranking non-Malay in Sarawak” (27 May 1997 interview with a reliable and informed academic). He was one of two men to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Chief Minister Taib during the critical 10 March 1987 press conference during the Ming Court affair (Ritchie 1987: 22). PBB nominee (12 August 1997 interview with James Chin)
















































A final, poignant comment, on the group of Iban compradors in Table 4.8 above, came as I reviewed these names with a Sarawak state assemblyman. Surprised to see the names of Iban leaders from three prominent families appearing over and over again – Jinggut, Linggi, and Kanyan - and himself representing a district that is heavily logged, the assemblyman told me that he had approached all three of these prominent Iban families for campaign contributions when he had run for office. All refused to help and instead supported his opponent. Looking back he said, "No wonder they would not help me. They were already paid off by the government." He added, "These people take money and resources coming from the lands belonging to the people of my district. Then when I run for office to try to help the people of my district, these downriver Iban use that money, which belongs to the people of my district, against them” (4 June 1997 interview).

7 comments:

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!

Lo said...

Headhunter

The sad reality if the whole thing is that almost everybody can be bought at the right price.

While they accumulate wealth that can be kept for 14 generations, the natives in their rural villages are loosing their only 'reta' (assets) that is their land.

Maybe be looking and learning from their brothers and sisters in Semenanjung that they are now dare to 'ngelaban perintah' (go against the government)?

If nothing is done, many natives will be squatters in their own land a few years from now.

God save Sarawak........

Lo

Anonymous said...

You only dare to critize Jabu on the net. Why dun u do it face to face?

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Obey To Opey said...

Aram kitai bala2 Dayakian..kill em' all...kitai bunuh org kak ngambik tanah kitai..ang nyuruh org Malays kuasa tanah kitai...tnah Sarawak kitai empu...Borneo kitai empu..

Anonymous said...

hi, please can you email me a copy of the dissertation? i'm doing a similar topic for mine and would really find it useful. do you still have it? my email is alllllena@hotmail.com