Sunday, March 30, 2008

Being well connected goes a long way in Malaysia

From 5 years ago - Has anything changed in Sarawak?

05/05/2003


In some parts of Malaysia, business and politics are inextricably linked, writes Michael Backman.

The Sarawak State Government gave two road construction contracts worth a combined $M79.86 million ($A32.59 million) to the Malaysian company CMS Group last week. Last month, it gave CMS an even bigger contract, worth at least $M1332 million over 15 years, to maintain all of Sarawak's roads. The group's most recent annual report says it is the largest and fastest-growing conglomerate in the state.

As well it might. It is, you might say, well connected. CMS Group chairman is Sulaiman Abdul Rahman Taib. His younger brother Mahmud Abu Bekir Taib is deputy chairman. Their father is Abdul Taib Mahmud. He is the Chief Minister of Sarawak and has been since 1981.

The Chief Minister's brother Onn bin Mahmud also sits on the board of CMS. Not only is Abdul Taib Mahmud Chief Minister, he's also the Resource Management and Planning Minister. That means he's also the Forestry Minister. And that's lucky because another brother, Mohd Tufail bin Mahmud, is co-owner of Sanyan Group, one of Sarawak's biggest timber companies. Sanyan Group recently completed the 22-storey Wisma Sanyan in the Sarawak town of Sibu. There is an office space glut in Sibu but, fortunately, the Sarawak Government took up eight floors.

One of Abdul Taib's biggest supporters is the Deputy Chief Minister and Finance Minister George Chan. Chan's daughter is married to Abdul Taib's son Sulaiman Abdul Rahman.

Sarawak is one of the richest states in Malaysia. It earns about $M6 billion a year from timber and timber products. It earns that again from crude oil, and double that from natural gas. It is one of the world's major pepper exporters too. Even this earns almost $M200 million annually.

CMS Group originally was a monopoly cement producer established to feed the building boom then under way in both states. In 1989, the Sabah Government sold its stake and the Sarawak Government decided that the company should list on the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange. Abdul Taib's family emerged as its controlling shareholders.

The cement company was transformed into a conglomerate as a result of a host of government contracts.

CMS now encompasses more than 40 subsidiaries that operate in banking, securities and derivatives, cement and construction materials, steel, construction and road maintenance, property development, and services. Other recent government contracts include CMS's appointment in mid-1997 as joint developer of a $US1.5 billion ($A2.4 billion) low-cost housing project in Kuching.

In 2001, Malaysia's Federal Government awarded CMS a $M581 million contract to build a 178 kilometre road in the state. In January this year, CMS was given a five-year contract to supply roofing materials to a state-owned company for the construction of almost 11,000 low-cost housing units. CMS also has a $M150 million government contract to ease tidal flooding along the Sarawak River, a $M47 million government contract to upgrade a local airport, and other contracts to build hospitals.

Abdul Taib has a special place in Malaysian politics. His party is a component of Prime Minister Mahathir's ruling coalition and, come election time, Abdul Taib consistently delivers all or most of Sarawak's seats in the national Parliament to Mahathir's coalition.

In 2001, the Federal Government allowed CMS Group's banking unit Bank Utama to acquire RHB Bank to become one of Malaysia's 10 core banks. A past chairman of Bank Utama is Mahathir's Agriculture Minister, Effendi Norwawi. He also serves as vice-president of Abdul Taib's United Sarawak Bumiputera Party.

Last year, CMS missed out on a contract to build Sarawak's $M9 billion Bakun Dam. But it was not a total miss. The main component of any large dam is concrete, for which CMS has a near monopoly in Sarawak.

© The Age (Australia)

Letter to Malaysian PM: Corruption allegations against Sarawak CM Taib Mahmud...

27/04/2007

We, the undersigned Japanese non-governmental organizations and citizen's groups, wish to express our profound concern regarding threats by the Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Pehin Taib Mahmud to lodge a defamation suit against the Malaysiakini news service and leaders of Party Keadilan Rakyat Sarawak for raising allegations of his involvement in a RM 32 million kickback scheme reported by the Japan Times and other Japanese newspapers.

To Dato' Seri Abdullah bin Haji Ahmad Badawi
Prime Minister of Malaysia

CC: Director, Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA)

Subject: Corruption allegations against Sarawak CM Taib Mahmud and freedom of speech in Malaysia

Your Excellency,

We understand that the corruption allegations raised against CM Taib Mahmud originated from a report in the Japan Times on Mar 29,, 2007 that nine Japanese shipping companies which transport lumber from Sarawak failed to report some 1.1 billion yen (approximately RM 32 million) in income paid as remuneration to Regent Star, a Hong Kong-based agent with connections to CM Taib Mahmud and his family, during a period of seven years through last March. According to the report, the Tokyo Regional Taxation Bureau determined that these payments were rebates, not legitimate expenses, and is likely to impose well over 400 million in back taxes and penalties against the shipping companies.

The Yomiuri Shimbun (in Japanese) also reported the above facts in an article on March 28th. Furthermore, the Asahi Shimbun English edition reported on March 28th that the Tokyo Regional Taxation Bureau had ordered Kansai Line Co. to pay 50 million yen in back taxes and penalties for falsely including so-called intermediation fees totaling 130 million yen paid to Regent Star over a seven year period until December 2005, in its cost of loading logs in ports in Sarawak, in an effort to hide the payments.

The Asahi Shimbun Japanese edition further reported on March 27th that shipping companies affiliated with the Nanyozai Freight Agreement (NFA) cartel are suspected to have paid more than US $25 million (approx. 2.5 billion yen) in intermediation fees to Regent Star in the ten years up to 2005. An anonymous industry source is quoted as admitting that 'there was an understanding that these were payments to the Chief Minister's family' and in essence, kickbacks. According to the article, the NFA admitted that it had in 1981 entered into an agreement with Dewaniaga Sarawak (DNS) on log exports to Japan, and had been instructed by DNS to pay intermediation fees to Regent Star in Hong Kong. The payments, which are said to have continued for 26 years since 1981, are said to have started at a rate of approximately US $1.50 per cubic meter of logs shipped, and to have increased over the years to the current rate of US $3.28, while the log shipments declined from a peak of 3.8 million m3 in 1990 to about 410,000 m3 in 2005. The report estimates that an average of one to four million dollars per year, totaling US $25,250,000 was paid to Regent Star between 1996 and 2005 alone. The article also mentions that an industry source alleged that DNS director Dato' Onn Bin Mahmud, brother of CM Taib Mahmud, sometimes participated in person in negotiations of the intermediation fees between Regent Star and the NFA.

From the above, it should be crystal clear that the allegations lodged against CM Taib Mahmud by Malaysiakini and Party Keadilan Rakyat Sarawak are not based on rumor or hearsay, but on information reported in a consistent manner by several leading Japanese newspapers. As organizations working in the Malaysian public interest, Malaysiakini and Party Keadilan have merely been exercising their freedom of expression and fulfilling their duty to raise concerns to the public and competent authorities regarding highly disturbing information meriting further investigation. In fact, it would have been dereliction of their public duty not to have done so.

IF whistleblowers immediately face threats of litigation for defamation, how can citizens play an active role in eliminating corruption? Should not CM Taib Mahmud present a clear explanation rather than resort to such intimidation? And if he disagrees with the allegations in the reports, should he not question their sources in Japan and the Japanese tax authorities, rather than Malaysian citizens who are merely bringing them to the public attention?

In light of your pledge to make anti-corruption a top policy priority with 'zero tolerance for corruption,' we urge you to live up to your reputation by instructing the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) directly under your supervision to immediately commence a formal investigation into the allegations raised in these media reports, and to keep the public informed of developments thereof. Party Keadilan Rakyat Sarawak has already lodged two reports on this matter as of April 13th 2007, one with the Kuching Central Police Station and another with the Anti-Corruption Agency in Kuching, following your public statement advising that reports be lodged so that the ACA could take action. Japanese civil society will do its most to urge the Japanese tax authorities to cooperate with Malaysia in its investigation, so that the truth can be revealed and justice served.

Furthermore, we ask you to ensure that Malaysian citizens do not face undue pressure or malicious litigation in an attempt to suppress their freedom of speech when raising issues in the public interest. Certainly such transparency is crucial in upholding the honor and untarnished reputation of Malaysia in the international community.

Sincerely,

Sarawak Campaign Committee (SCC)
Friends of the Earth Japan (FOEJ)
Japan Tropical Forest Action Network (JATAN)
The Japan Citizens' Coalition for the UN International Decade of the World's Indigenous Peoples (INDEC)
Japan Network on Human Rights in Malaysia
Pacific Asia Resource Center (PARC)
Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands Forest Protection Group in Japan
Y. Sakamoto, Global Environment Forum

© Japanese NGO Coalition

What did Sarawak and Sabah get for more than RM330 Billion worth of Petroleum Revenues?

Posted by Maverick SM at Cakap Tak Serupa Bikin blog.

Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) does not fund infrastructure projects, said its corporate planning/development division vice-president, Datuk Nasarudin Mohd Idris.

He was responding to Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng's proposal that Petronas fund the second Penang Bridge project, valued at over RM2 billion.

"Petronas only contributes to the government's coffers in the form of dividends. It's up to the government on how it will be used," Nasarudin said at the Invest Malaysia 2008 Conference here yesterday.

Nasarudin also said the company had contributed more than RM330 billion to the government over the past 30 years in the form of taxes, dividends, export duties and royalties.*(See Note below)

"We finance infrastructure as far as oil and gas projects are concerned, like Kertih, whereby we created a petrochemicals complex, but we don't finance buildings and bridges."

Source: NST: Petronas 'does not fund bridges'

Petronas bosses have forgotten. They funded Bank Bumiputera in the RM2bil BMF scandal. Petronas's least happy venture was its ownership of Bank Bumiputra, the second-largest, but least-profitable, of the commercial banks incorporated in Malaysia. Petronas spent more than M$3.5 billion over five years trying to rescue the bank from the impact of the bad loans it had made, starting with its support of the Carrian property group of Hong Kong, which collapsed in 1985, taking the bank's share capital down with it. In 1991, Petronas sold the bank back to another state company, Minister of Finance Inc., and announced its intention to concentrate on oil, gas, and associated activities in future (source: wikipedia)

Petronas funded the construction of the Petronas Twin Towers to fulfill Mahathir's aspiration of having the world's tallest buildings in Malaysia. Petronas also helped to bail out Mirzan Mahathir and Mokhzani (source: here and here)

Petronas had been tasked with the development of the RM112 billion Eastern Corridor projects under the 9MP. Not all the ECER projects are oil and gas projects; some are roads and rural development. Based on a master plan drawn up by PETRONAS, the ECER will see some RM112 billion spent on 227 projects by the year 2020. The master plan has identified tourism; oil, gas and petrochemical; manufacturing; agriculture and education sectors for economic development (source: www.petronas.com.my)

Petronas also sponsored hundreds of millions in BMW-Sauber F1 team. Petronas was also involved in bailing out Proton-DRB HICOM, MAS, and was heavily financing Putrajaya Holding (source: atimes.com)
RM330 billion to the government over the past 30 years in the form of taxes, dividends, export duties and royalties

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Stunning incompetence – and proof that nothing has changed

Stunning incompetence – and proof that nothing has changed PDF Print E-mail
ALIRAN
Friday, 28 March 2008
If we thought that dealing an electoral blow to the Umno-led BN would serve as a wake-up call, we’d better think again. Far from learning anything from the rebuke, the new cabinet is proof that not one thing has got in those thick skulls, observes Tingang.

First, it would be a normal assumption that there is consultation before announcing a cabinet. But the two instant rejections show the arrogance behind the appointments. The assumption is that people are so hungry for cabinet positions that you don’t have to consult them.

Second, the huge disappointment of the Dayaks in Sarawak pushed even the usually subservient James Masing, disputed leader of the Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS), to voice his disappointment.

Now, if one wants to know what the NEP really means to today’s Umno, Sarawak is a great place to learn about it – and the cabinet appointments only serve to underline that.

This is a state whose bumiputera – a majority non-Malay bumiputera – have seen the favoured grow rich while first the forest and now the land is literally being taken away from them. For these bumiputera, there is no NEP, instead lectures about changing their mindsets while their sources of livelihood are handed over to the well-connected, mostly apparently Chinese companies, but who knows the ultimate beneficiaries.

So, a first-term MP, son of the Chief Minister of Sarawak, is immediately given a deputy ministership, while long-serving Iban, Bidayuh and Orang Ulu MPs are left out in the cold. Now, if anyone is interested in how politics and business are intertwined in Sarawak, just look up the Annual Report of Cahya Mata Sarawak Bhd (CMSB), a company laughingly referred to as Chief Minister & Sons Bhd.

Go along most major roads in Sarawak and you’ll see signs proudly announcing that the road maintenance is under CMSB. The proposed USD2 billion aluminium smelter is a joint venture with CMSB – and we can guess why Rio Tinto picked CMSB as a partner. The concrete and cement and steel for Bakun is from CMSB. CMSB’s tiny Bank Utama was allowed to do a reverse take-over of much larger RHB Bank – but unable to turn a profit out of it, it’s now sold to EPF. CMSB owns the former JKR construction arm. And so on – to the tune of doing business amounting to 10 per cent of Sarawak’s GDP. One company, owned by the Chief Minister’s family – and our Mr Clean had no problems appointing the first-term MP son to the cabinet.

Well, it should be interesting to see Suleiman Taib Mahmud’s asset declarations. But if the government means what it says – who believes that anymore – then it should insist on asset declarations covering the extended family of parents, siblings and nephews and nieces.

But it gets worse. The new environment minister is from Sarawak, as is the plantations minister. Guess which state has done more deforestation in the past ten years? Right, Sarawak. And for what purpose? Right, for plantations. Check and balance? Or, green light to go ahead and further dispossess the bumiputera of Sarawak, handing over the degraded forest to the same people who degraded it with terrible logging practices, so that they can plant acacia and oil palm? Look at the timber companies. Now look at the ones in plantation. They are the same – the Big Five – they call them. And the economy of Sarawak is being handed over to them: forests, plantations, shipping, hyper-malls, hotels, real estate, etc.

Rafidah Aziz deserved to go. But by all accounts she was a competent international trade and industry minister – she deserved to go not because she couldn’t do that job, but because she got too good at some other jobs.

Whover has replaced her, it should be fun. But even more of a joke is the deputy minister, a long-serving Orang Ulu MP, also from the CM’s party, whose only knowledge of international trade and industry is staring at oil palm and acacia plantations coming up all over the Baram. Now this is a man who dare not even talk with his constituents when they want to talk about the land issue. And he is going to represent us in those international forums facing the sharks?

If Mr Clean had appointed him to the works ministry, it might at least be understandable. After all, he is MP of an area where, after more than twenty years, the government road remains unfinished, and is in worse shape than even the logging roads! They used to blame Samy Vellu. Now we don’t have Samy to kick around any more, it would have been good to let Jacob Dungau prove himself and finally get the road completed.

Come to think of it, maybe we should present the whole cabinet with pillows. Things might actually be better if they all went to sleep.

This is Exactly What Sarawak Headhunter has been Saying, but do most Sarawakians Themselves Realise It?

Taken from Malaysia-Today...
written by KL Dude, March 29, 2008 | 13:14:49
(in response to the above article from ALIRAN)


I do agree with the writer to a certain extent... on the situation in Ulu Baram Sarawak or even Sarawak and Sabah as a whole in terms of development.

Though I'm from KL, but from my business trips there to Sabah (or even Sarawak) for the last 10 years, have opened by eyes to realize that the Sabahans/Sarawakians are actually about 20-30 years behind as compared to their counterparts in Semenanjung.

Well some of you guys here may disagree with me if you have just been visiting KK, Kuching, Sandakan, Miri, Tawau which are the so call urban areas there but if you've gone to the remote parts like Sukau or Ulu Baram, you may start to believe me.

Many villages in Sabah/Sarawak do not even have proper basic ameneties like water, electricity and proper road access or even clinics with proper MO and yet BN can proudly bullshit in the MSM about how much development they have brought to the people of Malaysia. You'll be surprised to see the MPs of these areas are all from BN, who so call talk cock and scare the locals that only they can bring development and prosperity, peacefulness and stability (whatever that dumb BN election motto). The question is, where are the results though millions was said to have been allocated for the rural development of Sabah/Sarawak? Out of naiveness perhaps, the locals have been voting these BN scumbags into power, without realising that they are voting for them to give them license to cheat them under their own noses.

One can never deny the level of poverty here is quite bad and go visit yourself to the villages here and see their living conditions. The program "Bersamamu' in TV3 highlights about the cases of hard core poor in Semenanjung mostly but some of the cases highlighted in the program is just 'chicken-feed' if compared to the living conditions in some of the rural villages in Sabah/Sarawak. But all these have not been highlighted by the TV program or even in the MSM - why ??

Another pertinent factor to ponder is on the NEP as mentioned above, and also regarding Bumiputera status. This NEP thing is supposed to help the local Bumis, everyone knows that but why still many in Sabah/Sarawak still living under the poverty line? Most Sabahans/Sarawakians are Bumis in fact but how come then the NEP does not have any effect on them? The writer has pointed out correctly on the effects of NEP there.

I also asked this question myself to some Sabahans/Sarawakians and they told me off this straight to my face...those Bumi status privileges is all crap in Sabah/Sarawak as it only helps the '1st' class Bumis from UMNO or Muslims only as those Christian Bumis are deemed '2nd' class Bumi it seems so they don't get much in fact and are just about the same like the Indians and Chinese in Semenanjung. Is this true, Wildman ?

Actually there's much more dirt in Sabah/Sarawak, but its just that we in Semenanjung don't know in depth or perhaps don't bother to know because it doesn't concern us. All opposition blogsites as well so far mostly have been highlighting the issues mostly in Semenanjung only as you can see and very rare on East Malaysia. So you can't blame the Sabahans/Sarawakians for voting BN because even they have alternative media, those who're very naive actually may perceive the problems highlighted by oppositions in blogsites is a "Semenanjung" issue, and does not really affect them.

What is needed now is that the tsunami that hit the Semenanjung shores last 8 March should now head towards Sabah/Sarawak to wipe out all those corrupt and good for nothing BN scumbags there out once and for all.

(See also Sarawak Headhunter's very first posting "It is time for Taib Mahmud's head to roll!" under the sub-heading "Why is Sarawak Still 30 Years Behind Malaya?"

101 Sebab Mengapa Pak Lah Mesti Terus Jadi PM


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

101 Sebab Mengapa Pak Lah Mesti Terus Jadi PM


Monday, March 24, 2008

Corruption? What Corruption?

Corruption? What Corruption?
Posted by Wong Ho Leng on Sarawak Talk on March 23, 2008 at 16:04:57:

Corruption? What Corruption?

The 12th General Election was concluded 14 days ago, the cabinet had just been formed, and we have since heard many calls to curb corruption. There must be a reason for this.

I was speaking to an Assistant Minister today. I was asked for my view about the poor show of the BN in West Malaysia. My short answer was that the people are sick of corruption. The Assistant Minister replied, “Really? Corruption? What corruption?” I said that he is living under a coconut shell if he can't see corruption in our country. In jest, he said, may be it is more in West Malaysia. There is no corruption in Sarawak!

When the Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi exercised his prerogative to appoint his cabinet, he excluded some of his old guards who were accused of corruption and scandals, but he kept some others, making Malaysians wonder whether our PM is serious in his second crusade into corruption and its ills.

Apparently having those doubts of Malaysians in his mind, in his first speech to them after their appointment, the Prime Minister asked his cabinet to stay clean and serve the people with integrity and dignity. He also asked all Ministers and Deputy Ministers to declare their assets. There is no requirement for frequent declaration, just twice in 5 years.

Joining the band wagon against corruption is the Anti Corruption Agency. Its boss said that forms will be designed for the Ministers and Deputy Ministers and their immediate families to declare their assets. These declarations will be made public.

The public do not entertain much confidence in all these. They call them post election gimmickries, saying that these moves were made only because the BN lost big, and they want to win the hearts back.

The request for clean administration was picked up by the MCA, a big loser in the election. The MCA’s education bureau chief Lee Sing Chooi, a Senator, urged the Government to make sure that all development projects by the government are awarded through open tenders and not to those with political patronage. He said that the recent general election results showed that voters had “rejected previous practice of squabbling for projects by those in power at all levels for personal gains and to continue staying in power”.

Why was the call made by a low ranked Lee and not by the MCA President is everybody’s guess. It has taken the MCA a long time to realise the discontent of the rakyat on matters concerning corruption, that few contracts had been awarded by public tender but given to those that are influential and powerful. But it is good that such discontent is realized. It is better late than never.

The SUPP, Gerakan and other leaders from BN, living like frogs under coconut shells, have not even the courage to admit the malpractices.

Is corruption so worrying now, so that everyone is talking about it? Or, has someone realized the worries only now?

Once confronted with the issue of corruption, many BN leaders would ask, “Corruption? What corruption? We are very transparent. There is no corruption”. They would not tackle it head on. They won't see it, even less admitting it.

I can mimic those gestures in the Dewan Undangan Negeri recently. Looking toward the direction of Wong Soon Koh, a very upset Chief Minister said, “Soon Koh, you probably know better. I don’t know. You can explain”. Soon Koh rose to his feet to vouch that all contracts were above board and were given out transparently to those who can perform.

On 21st March, 2004, AAB secured an unprecedented electoral victory which saw 91% of MPs coming from the BN. He secured that unprecedented victory on his pledge to weed out corruption.

A full 4 years later, ask AAB whether he had succeeded in weeding out corruption? AAB will be very honest. No.

Ask him, whether he has reduced corruption? He will shyly tell you. No.

Ask the Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Assistant Minister, Parliamentary Secretaries (now abolished), Political Secretaries, whether there is corruption in Government Ministries, departments, offices, and the answer will always be “No”. Some would get very personal and angry, “You prove it, or we will sue you”.

Should anyone say that these people are corrupt, or insinuate that they are anywhere near dishonesty, they will sue you, until you are flat!

It is not easy to track down corruption. But it is there. Are all these people in power clean? Ask the people in the streets and coffee shops, and they will tell you, categorically, which Ministers are corrupt. I have seldom heard of impeccably clean ones. It is a shame.

If AAB had not been mindful of his failure on curbing corruption, or how those in power managed to secure assets, why should be take the trouble to require public declaration of asset by his cabinet? Or, why should he even bother to direct the ACA to prepare the forms for asset declaration?

When AAB faced the 11th general Elections 4 years ago, his resounding victory was due to people’s hatred over corruption. Under 22 years of Mahathir’s rule, the country faced unprecedented corruption. Those in power amassed unexplained wealth. The NEP produced not equality in distribution of wealth, but disparity. Only those few bumiputeras in power or connected to the powerful became rich, filthy rich.

Has things improved after 4 years of Abdullah’s premiership? All Malaysians will have to agree that nothing in the clean governance front has improved. Even former Prime Minister Tun Mahathir poised the gun squarely at AAB. He put it succinctly that corruption, as a gangrene, was rampant. It has shot over the ceiling.

But still, despite the crusade against corruption, no big fish was caught. Not many ikan bilis had been nabbed. Those ikan bilis caught are more often than not, returned to the seas, where they can swim freely and wag again.

Check out the assets of those people in power. Ministers and Assistant Ministers etc are not supposed to be in business. They depend on the “meagre” income as Ministers. Yet, they can afford to build and maintain palatial mansions, with size of the sitting room big enough for futsal. They can afford to spend RM2 million on a paino. They could afford to lose millions of Pounds in casinos in a day. They could afford to carry multi millions Australian dollars across customs check points. How would they justify their income or the manner in which they lead their lives?

Check out the assets of those family members of the Ministers and Assistant Ministers. Many of their children can have a handful of luxurious cars. Their wife or children could have tens of millions of shares in public listed companies. Their wife or sisters could be one of the richest in foreign country, owing a hotel chain. Why should these folks be so filthy rich?

Check the might and wealth of political secretaries. They can afford frequent gambling sessions at Genting Highlands. They can go to the casinos in Australia. Each stake can reach tens of thousands of Australian Dollars. Why should God be kinder to them?

Where do they get the money from? Need we ask? Business? If their business acumen is so great, shouldn’t they pass some of these secret skills to the ordinary rakyat?

Abdullah is great. He asked his cabinet Ministers to declare assets. In order to curb corruption. At first glance, it is good, because it is something new. But a closer look will reveal that it may well be a gimmickry, trying to lure back the lost votes.

The pains about corruption is that it is there, but not seen. When Rafidah Aziz was dropped from the cabinet, she said that she had always stayed clean. Despite the accusations over APs and what not, give her credit for her courage to elevate her credibility.

Those who were recently appointed to the cabinet thought that they are ingenious. Youth and Sports Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob vowed to weed out corruption within the Ministry and from all sports and youth associations. Why should this Minister single out his Ministry? Why shouldn’t he say he would cooperate with all cabinet Ministers, including with AAB, to weed out corruption and irregular practices across the board?

If sports equipment were said to have been purchased but no one knew where they were kept, were there corruption somewhere? If special containers were ordered to put sports equipment but dogs’ cages were supplied, would Ismail Yaakob order an investigation? If RM50,000 is spent on a pole vault mattress, would those officials be brought to book?

Where did our money go to? When a car jack could be bought for RM5,471 when the market price is RM50.00, would that be called corruption, or erroneous over-payment? When the Treasury paid 90 sets of faber Castell technical pens at RM1146.56 per set when the market price is RM160 each, when 152 desktop computer packages were bought for RM4.5million when the market price is only RM1.4million, whose pockets did all the money actually go into?

The alarming decline in the standards of public accountability, transparency and integrity in Government departments through misuse and mismanagement of public funds were glaringly exposed in the Auditor General Report of 2006. Malaysians were not shocked by all these exposes, for all these had become an annual ritual of shame. The Youth and Sports Ministry, for instance, had not come forth clean.

There were thunderous comments about the Auditor General’s Report 2006. There were calls for detailed and thorough investigation. On 13th September 2007, AAB said the ACA should step in and investigate any suspicion of corruption and in Ministries and Government agencies implicated in the Auditor General’s Report. Amen! The people applauded thunderously.

In no time, there was only thunderous silence. It is back to square one.

Why were not the Ministers and Deputy Ministers required to explain and account for the public fund mismanagement and irregularities?

The people are right, most of the time. They said, often, “All these are for show. Lip services only”.

Many Ministers were not re-appointed. Some were not returned after the election. Those appointed to the Ministries comprised half a cabinet of new faces. They have nothing in them to explain, yet. The saga ends. The next chapter begins from a different person appointed to the Ministry.

The Auditor General will go fly kite again. Come next year, the report will be duplicated, only figures are different, increasing. AAB will direct the ACA to investigate the suspicion. A few years later, the story remains the same.

Is there will power to weed out corruption? Not yet. It is too difficult, so they say.

What about ridding corrupt ministers? If AAB does that, a town folk told me, AAB may not have enough quorum for the Wednesday cabinet meetings.

The people are accusing the cabinet of lacking will power, even alleging that dirty Ministers swim together. They cannot be dislodged by someone who is equally not impeccably clean. If a Prime Minister had the audacity to say that his son got contracts, yes, but not as much as his predecessor’s son. How can we have legitimacy in enforcing laws against corruption?

But there is a way to go about it. The people can vote the Government out. Just that, beware, that in the transition, before the new Government takes office, all these Government files, confidential or not, will be removed, so that the evidence of corruption, malpractices, irregularities, etc, will sink like a tonne of lead.

It is a sinking feeling, isn’t it? But hasn’t that happened recently in the non-BN controlled states of Selangor, Perak and Penang?

There are of course, other departments whose expenditures were not accounted for. Malaysians almost threw out the BN Government, owing partly to the anti-corruption pledge that it did not honour.

At the state levels, we have seen virgin forests being lumbered. We have heard of helicopters being used to track illegal logging. We have heard of fraudulent deals involving land. We have heard of timber licenses being revoked due to squabble between uncle and nephew. We have seen multi-million contracts awarded to companies linked to the powers that be without tender. The loss goes on and on.

People had asked me whether corruption is across the whole spectrum of society. It is. I was also asked whether there is corruption in administration outside the Government? Who would give bribe or benefits to the Opposition knowing that the Opposition cannot give any special rights, benefits or privileges at all? But my mind was directed to someone who had left the DAP in order to prepare themselves entering the ruling BN elites. Did money change hands? I must confess I had no idea. That must be a moral issue, but certainly not corruption.

Ridding corrupt practices start with one fundamental mental frame. That is to admit that there is such a gangrene. Admit that the country suffers the ill of political patronage. Under this ill, the money and resources which are meant for the rakyat were siphoned away and many decisions made were biased with personal interest. The Government must admit that the NEP had only favoured a negligible number of bumiputeras. It has been abused by those in power to enrich themselves or their cronies.

Let’s see how the non-BN controlled states will tackle the issues of corruption and administration frauds. But the war against corruption will fail unless it is started at the federal level too.

Can that be done? If there is a will, may be it can. But no one in power should be allowed to ask, Corruption? What corruption? The people are getting sick of the denial syndrome.

23/3/2008

Sunday, March 23, 2008

While you are Sleeping, your Pensions & Retirement Savings are Disappearing Fast

While you are Sleeping, your Pensions & Retirement Savings are Disappearing Fast PDF Print E-mail
Posted by Vineeth Menon on Malaysia Today
Sunday, 23 March 2008

On March 19, 2008 NST (written by Zaidi Isham Ismail) reported EPF had obtained the Ministry of Finance's approval to invest USD 2 billion or RM 6.36 billion (RM 3.18 = USD 1).

1. As everyone should know, the new cabinet was sworn in after the report appeared on NST. How can a caretaker Minister of Finance have the legal authority to make such a decision for EPF to invest overseas another USD 2 billion?

2. In April 2005 when the Malaysian Central Bank announced liberalization, EPF invested USD 1 billion or RM 3.80 billion (at that time RM 3.80=USD 1) overseas, what happened to this pension money? Today that money is worth RM3.18b not RM3.8b or a RM 620 million losses unless EPF hedged this money via some futures forex contract.

3. In the same report, EPF reported that it has approval for USD 6 billion. How much foreign exchange losses???

4. The NST report says 2006's assets (RM259.9b) grew 10% to RM285.9b in 2007 to provide a dividend of 5.8%. Assets are expected to grow by 21%, year-on-year, to RM346b in 2008 to keep the same dividend rate. Simple math does not add up!

5. Today the Dow Jones has fallen to around 12000 from 15000. So have nearly all the bourses in the world with few exceptions like Brazil. It is fair then to assume that EPF's foreign investments are likely to receive a double whammy – foreign exchange losses and intrinsic losses as well.

6. Obviously, EPF accountholders are kept in the dark. Could these funds be invested in collusion secretly with fund management companies appointed by EPF like Nomura (with massive sub-prime losses and was fined for securities fraud) and some proceeds to certain individuals with creative accounting techniques?

The Beginning of this Sordid Mess – The Evidence

1. In April 2005 when Malaysia Central Bank announced liberalization, Pension funds, EPF and unit trusts could invest overseas.

2. In 2005 KWAP (Kumpulan Wang Amanah Pencen – Civil Servants Pension Fund) had a tough time finding a solicitor who had expertise to vet for an International Private Equity Agreement and make necessary changes. Their panel interviewed 30 to 40 legal firms. They finally awarded this contract to vet to Messrs H.M.J. Shaharom & K.S. Wee. Even the fees were agreed upon.

3. However upon completion, KWAP were in for a surprise as the amended vetted agreement pertaining to exceptional clauses and irregularities was rejected by the mandarins at KWAP. Legal work was done regardless upon agreed principles. The law firm sued for legal fees and won an order (was obtained) but KWAP used delaying tactics by changing law firms from Zainal Abidin & Co to Shook Lin & Bok. Case drag to May and June 2008. This whole thing is under the purview of the Minister of Finance. It is believed the present Chief Secretary had no knowledge of this court case.

4. Was this investment again safe and was there any instrument to safeguard the USD depreciation? In 2005 at RM 3.80 to the dollar, the original USD 30m investment would be equivalent to RM 114m. However, at current rates that USD 30m would amount to less than RM 96m only resulting in a whopping RM 18 million translation loss in investment belonging to KWAP. Other related questionable charges and fees highlighted were not adhered to. Instead the International Private Equity went ahead in original unvetted or forensic taxed form.

5. None of these appeared in the mainstream media. Copies of these public documents may be downloaded here (about 30MB): HERE

SUPP has Failed to Oppose the Following in the Past:

SUPP HAS FAILED TO OPPOSE THE FOLLOWING IN THE PAST:

WHY SUPP LEADERS ARE NOT TRUSTWORTHY OR ETHICAL ?

Or

WHY SUPP DESERVES TO BE PUNISHED?

by Disillusioned Sarawakian

I am writing this from outside Sarawak as I migrated with my family to Australia last year. I spent most of my working life in Miri and Kuching and as a businessmen, was forced to socialise with SUPP and other political leaders. I got to be quite close to them, and became one of their "supporters" who was "required" to "help" during elections.

I would like to appeal to all the voters, especially the Chinese voters, to vote for the opposition and not the SUPP. Let me just relate some of the home truths about SUPP.

1. SUPP under George Chan is not working for the Chinese but Taib Mahmud. Forget the words but look at the actions. TM took away the Kuching Mayor's post and gave it to a civil servant (died) without consulting SUPP. Before the announcement I was at a dinner with George Chan, Lee Kim Shim and Alan Sim and GC hinted that AS would make an excellent mayor for Kuching. AS was smiling so hard that you would have guessed that he was 100% sure that he would be the mayor. But TM simply gave it to someone else and GC could not do anything about it.

2. When the 2006 state elections came about, I was asked to "donate" to the SUPP campaign in Kuching. My Miri branch manager told me that the SUPP Miri people (Andy Chia, Datuk Wee and gang) "asked" for my company vehicles to be "loaned" them for the campaign. When the issue of land lease came up, GC told us in a dinner function that he will "speak" to CM and CM would make an announcement at a unity dinner in Kuching. I was forced to buy 3 tables at this dinner at Crowne Plaza. I was sitting at a table a metre away from the VIP table and I saw GC begging the CM to announce that he would renew the lease. CM just told GC, in front of everyone, I will announce in my own time. Can you image the SUPP president's shame? In front of the Chinese community, he cannot even get the CM to make a "hint" about the land lease.

After the elections, I was having dinner with GC's supporters in Miri and he told in a serious tone that CM refused to make the announcement because he wanted to "punish" the Chinese/SUPP for making "too much noise". This meant that TM had already destroyed Iban unity by splitting PRS/PBDS into two factions and he wanted the Chinese to be the same while he prepared his children to come in and take over. This man even hinted that TM only dared to do this because GC was the SUPP president. GC cannot stand up to TM on any issue. He just gives in on every crucial issue. Why?- I will tell you later.

3. During the 2006 state elections, one of SUPP's biggest financial contributors, Ting Chek Si, a tycoon from Sibu, was not selected to defend his Meradong seat. His crime? TCS was in a business dispute with TM's brother over the Sanyan group of companies. TCS has sued TM's brother for "oppression" and revealed that he gave TM's brother 51% of the shares in the company in return for TM's timber concessions. TM told George Chan to dump TCS and GC, like a good running dog, did as he was told. This is despite the fact that Meradong people wanted TCS because he was using his own money to provide help to Meradong. The SUPP Central working committee even endorsed TCS's name as candidate. What kind of party leader is George if he dumped his own men and listened to PBB"s leader? Is SUPP a sub-branch of PBB?

What is worse - when TCS protested to GC, GC lied to his face straight and told him to keep quiet and TCS will be given another chance as senator. Of course GC did not keep his promise, he gave the senatorship to Sim Kheng Hui.

4. This is not the first time GC lied openly to his colleagues. In 2004 General Elections, he promised Law Hieng Ding that he will be nominated as the Minister but for the last term. George even put this in writing. After the elections, George nominated Datuk Peter Chin. Is it any wonder that LHD called George Chan a liar in the Chinese press and GC did not dare to sue him? If George Chan is a man of honour as he says he is, why does he not sue LHD for defamation? LHD even went to the extent of writing a complaint letter to all the SUPP CWC members and gave a copy to the PM and TM. He has documents to prove that GC was lying and backstabbed him.

5. You do not need to look at GC's political games to know he is a fake. Just look at the way he behaved towards his first wife, Judy. He cheated on her for so many years that she ran away. He had an open affair with Christina Foo of Priority One and gave the company a lot of state government consultancies.

During the search and rescue mission for Dr Judson in the Kelabit highlands, he visited the place often to "direct" the search. The real reason was that he was chasing a Kelabit girl and took her to KL to be his mistress. Just ask anyone in the highlands and they will confirm this story. This girl is now driving a BMW and living in a semi-D in KL.

What kind of man would use a moment of anguish over a helicopter crash to think about sex and chasing girls. Is this a "leader" of tahe Sarawak Chinese community?

Even worse, he allowed his daughter (the most beautiful one with white skin) to marry TM's son. When Sulaiman turned out to be playboy and started to hit the daughter, GC actually told the daughter to "bear it" as Sulaiman could ensure that she has a luxurious life. When Sulaiman heard this, he hit the poor daughter even harder and send her off to live in the States leaving him free to chase all sorts of girls in KL and Manila. As a father, how could GC do all these things?

The question is why? Why does GC do all these underhanded things?

The answer is simple. The love of power and wealth. He can only get power and wealth by being a running dog to TM and this is exactly what he has done. He has made SUPP weak because TM wants SUPP to be weak while the Melanau dynasty rules forever.

George Chan wants to enjoy the good things in life like fine wine (he has one of the finest wine collections in Malaysia) and women. He can only do this as deputy CM.

With a leader like George Chan, who lies to his own senior party members, and reports to PBB and TM - can we elect SUPP? If SUPP were to come out and say that it is a sub-branch of PBB, at least I will consider it as they will be telling the truth for the first time.

After all these nonsense I decided that I had better migrate. I do not want my children to deal with these sort of "leaders" and live in a country where the Chinese leaders are forever kowtowing to someone else.

I am not writing this out of spite. I encourage readers in Sarawak and elsewhere to investigate if what I say here is true. Even if 50% is true, don't you think SUPP deserves to be punished?

The only way to get rid of George Chan and his group of "PBB" SUPP members is to vote out SUPP until George Chan loses power. There is no other way. I took the easy way out by migrating but that does not mean I do not love Sarawak or care for the future of Sarawak. It simply means I am too old. I am telling his story so that the younger generation will know the truth.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

What Happened at RHB? More Questions than Answers

What happened at RHB? More Questions than Answers

This is an old article, but still relevant as a reminder.

Did someone (who could that be?) bite off more than they could chew and now are choking on it? Is it true as reported in the Asian Wall Street Journal that EPF’s investment of RM2.3 billion in RHB, which owns 65% of RHB Capital Bhd., has fallen to RM115 million?

If so, this represents a loss of RM2.185 billion of contributors’ moneys! How did EPF find itself in this position? How is it that there is not even a whimper of protest? Have Malaysians in general become immune to such huge losses by the government and its agencies that the government can afford not to make any comment at all? Are we all blind, deaf and dumb?

HOW did it happen? And what happened to transparency, good corporate governance, trust, efficiency, integrity, accountability and responsibility? Or doesn’t the government even believe in its own slogans?

How could the authorities have approved the takeover of RHB by Bank Utama in the first place? Subsequently how could they have approved the appointment of a wet behind the ears 30+ year old son of the Chief Minister of Sarawak as Executive Chairman of RHB Bank? Is he qualified to run a bank? Is he even qualified to run anything, especially a public listed company?

Where did the vast wealth of the Chief Minister’s family come from which enabled them to take over RHB? Aren’t the authorities even interested to know or find out? What happened to all the laws on money laundering? Corruption? Abuse of power? Where are all the watchdogs? Or is it again a case of only the small fish getting caught?

Now we find out that RHB Bank needs at least RM3 billion in fresh capital to meet the government’s capital adequacy ratio requirements. Where is this money going to come from? The long-suffering public investors? Taxpayers? EPF? Or from Taib Mahmud’s family’s mysterious fabled and unaccounted for riches?

Does this mean more privatizations and projects will need to be “given” to the family and the companies they control such as CMS (Cahaya Mata Sarawak Bhd) to make up for their “losses”? Are the big fish going to be fed some more? When will such rapaciousness and greed end and will or can the federal government put a stop to it in the interests of the state and the nation?

At the end of the day, we will have to ask ourselves “how stupid can we be for letting them get away with it?” For it will be at our loss and expense. Enough is enough. Or isn’t it?

In spite of this, EPF had to pay Taib Mahmud and family with billions more of contributors' money to buy up the controlling stake in RHB, apart from having to provide for all the losses already incurred. This has not been satisfactorily explained or accounted for until today.

Friday, March 21, 2008

SUPP MP Quits

SUPP MP Quits
Posted by Wong Ho Leng on Sarawak Talk on March 20, 2008 at 13:54:30:

SUPP MP Quits

Malaysiakini reports today (20/3/2008) that Serian MP Richard Riot from Sarawak SUPP has resigned from his Party after he was not appointed to the federal cabinet.

Though Anwar had been reported in the local media as saying that a few BN MPs had spoken to him about defection, and a few had indicated to me that they would “sail with the better wind”, it is too early to suggest that Richard’s resignation, if the report is confirmed, is a first sign of defection.

But there is no escape that there is discontent within the SUPP and other BN component parties. How long will the rope of sand hold this discontented lot? Let’s wait till the better wind blows.

Richard Riot is a 5-term MP for Serian. Born a Bidayuh, he has the edge to be appointed to the federal cabinet had there been more fairness. BN Sarawak delivered 30 MPs to Abdullah, yet only secured 3 Ministers’ posts in his cabinet together with 9 Deputies. More specifically, SUPP was given only 1 Minister’s post together with 2 Deputies.

While I have not heard of any scandal involving Richard Riot, I have heard that one of the SUPP MPs appointed to the AAB’s administration is not as clean as a slate but has been widely said to be linked to gangsterism. He was often quoted in the streets as having told the people that he would resort to “black and white, it is entirely up to you”. Ask the streets people in Sarawak, and they will unmistakenly point a finger on one person. Yet, he was appointed.

This is the 2nd time that Richard Riot has missed the boat. The first, according to Malaysiakini, was in 2004, and he expressed displeasure about it.

I am not totally surprised by the resignation of Richard Riot, though he has yet to confirm personally.

Malaysiakini reported that many party members in Serian, mostly Bidayuh, had surrendered their membership cards and sent them all in a bag to the party president. The party flags at the Serian branch office had also been taken down and burned by angry members.

Sources told me that a couple of hundred members resigned with Richard Riot.

Malaysiakini further reported that in the resignation letter, Richard was said to have told George Chan that the party did not have Dayak interests at heart.

According to the sources, the SUPP leadership submitted 4 names to AAB, though knowing fully well that they would be given a maximum of 1 Minister and 2 Deputy Ministers’ posts. As an immediate reaction to the appointment, George Chan was reported as saying that he was happy with the number of MPs appointed to AAB’s administration.

Taken as a whole, though, it makes us wonder at least 2 things. Firstly, is appointment to the Ministers portfolio so important? It would be a lame lie to suggest that this is not something of interest to politicians. We had seen 2 UMNO leaders who were appointed Deputy Ministers but refused to accept saying that they had served as Deputy Ministers and would only accept if appointed as Ministers.

Secondly, why should it be so difficult to consider Sarawak a special case, if cabinet posts are so important to those elected under the BN ticket? Sarawakians love Ministers in their midst, and the SUPP had been capitalized on this mentality for decades. Sarawakians save the skin for AAB, and should be able to hold Abdullah’s administration to “ransom” by demanding for better treatment. A defection by the Sarawak bloc of 30 BN MPs would mean that AAB would anytime become the Opposition leader. If there was a chance to demand for better and fairer treatment or recognition of Sarawak interest, the time is now. Yet, apart from James Masing, all other BN leaders in Sarawak had expressed satisfaction with the manner AAB appointed his cabinet.

It is now too early to speculate on defection, but who knows what may happen in a month or two when Parliament sits? The BN is in crisis. BN’s 2/3 majority in Parliament has been breached. Sarawak holds the determining bloc of number of MPs who can shout commands at Abdullah. Abdullah knows he has to tread carefully but is cushioned by the comfort that no BN MPs from Sarawak have the courage to demand more for Sarawakians. Had DAP Sarawak won a few more seats on 8th March, 2008, that will make defections easier to accomplish. Let’s see soon who will “sail with the better wind”.

Wong Ho Leng

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Pak Lah's Head to Roll Soon - the End is in Sight! Praise and Thanks be to God!

While the Sarawak Headhunter concentrates on Sarawak, nevertheless we cannot ignore what is happening at the Federal level. The overthrow of the BN Federal government will certainly also speed up the process of change of government at the Sarawak state level.

Pak Lah's "new" cabinet is probably going to be his downfall. One expects that he would have taken into account a balanced racial, party and regional representation in his cabinet, but his cabinet is so skewed in favour of UMNO that its composition now threatens its very own existence!

Pak Lah must not only be asleep but blind not to see this. This man is either totally clueless or has a moron as an adviser - an Oxford moron perhaps (now I'm beginning to understand the meaning of the term "oxymoron").

It is evident from the line-up (and they should all be lined-up and beheaded!) that Pak Lah is desperately trying to appease the mumblings, grumblings and rumblings from within UMNO to save his own neck in UMNO, even at the expense of alienating the rest of the BN and even the nation as a whole.

Such a strategy cannot work anymore - he cannot sacrifice being a PM for the whole country in favour of being PM for UMNO. No UMNO leader can afford to do this any longer and UMNO ignores this fact at its own peril and to its own doom.

For this reason his head will roll soon, the sooner the better. So should Najib's, Khairy's and Hishamuddin's and better still those of the whole UMNO (not even BN) government.

The rest of BN should heed the clear message from the ground and refuse to be part of this farce or be consigned to the dustbin of history!

This cabinet will not last many more weeks - it should not last many more weeks and will probably be the shortest-lived cabinet and government in Malaysian history. The cabinet ignores the realities on the ground, as well as just racial composition and fair party and regional representation.

Pak Lah has therefore managed to do the impossible, with some kind assistance from Khairy of course, and that is to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Divine Providence has to be at work here, through the efforts and prayers of all right-thinking and honourable Malaysians.

This is indeed fortunate for all Malaysians and we should bless the day that Mahathir gave us Pak Lah to preside over the ruination of UMNO and the BN.

Now the reform may really begin. Let us all hope and pray that Anwar does not make the same mistakes.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Monday, March 17, 2008

Shoddy, Cruel and Oppressive Treatment of the Natives of Sarawak by Taib Mahmud

Shoddy, Cruel and Oppressive Treatment of the Natives of Sarawak by Taib Mahmud

Now that our "beloved" CM is on the defensive (or is it offensive?) perhaps the opposition can create some more controversy and see how much he can take. After all, it is not as if he is in the right or the opposition in the wrong.

It was reported not too long ago that the Court of Appeal in upholding a High Court decision that 7 Temuan Orang Asli were customary owners of a piece of state land in Selangor, through which a highway was planned, reprimanded the government for treating them “in a most shoddy, cruel and oppressive manner”.

Judge Gopal Sri Ram said it was sad that “the very authority – the state – that is enjoined by the law to protect the aborigines, turned upon them...” and “It is my earnest hope that an episode such as this will never be repeated”. He will certainly have his hands full if all the cases from Sarawak go to court.

The Judge also said that “the government had breached the fiduciary duties owed to the plaintiffs by the deprivation of their proprietary rights without adequate compensation”.

But this is standard procedure for the government of Sarawak and they claim to have the law on their side. In Sarawak, “native customary rights” after 1st January 1958 are not recognized by law (the State Land Code), thereby making all natives who claim to be practicing such rights after this date as squatters and trespassers on the land which they may have worked on for decades.

The natives of course do not realize this at all and come into conflict with the government whenever “their” land is given to some big company or another to be “developed”.

It was further held in this case that the plaintiffs’ customary communal title attached itself to the Selangor Government’s radical title and that the Selangor Government and the Federal Government were under a fiduciary duty to protect the welfare of the aborigines, including their land rights.

Fiduciary duty? Protect the welfare of the natives? This is something the present government of Sarawak knows absolutely nothing about. Yet the natives still support it.

In view of the many high-handed pronouncements also not too long ago by Sarawak’s Second Minister of Planning and Resource Mismanagement, Awang Tengah Ali Hassan, on the subject of native customary rights land, it is high time that the government be reminded of and take heed of the above court decision and start treating native customary rights landowners less shoddily, less cruelly and less oppressively.

This stupid minister – no doubt speaking as his master’s voice - should also stop blaming NGO’s for instigating native customary rights landowners to go against the government. His master must also be equally if not more stupid to think that he can get away with whatever he wants in the name of the government. In any other country these clowns would probably have been driven from office long ago by a native uprising because of the way they have been treating them.

Yet as Suhakam said, Sarawakians do not complain as much as those in other states in the country. Does this mean that Sarawakians are a satisfied lot, or have nothing much to complain about other than land issues? Or is it because the people generally feel intimidated by their idiot leaders?

How do these idiots expect the natives to feel when they are told that they are merely trespassers and squatters on the land which they have toiled and worked on for generations in the exercise of their customary rights?

“The Penan have no rights to the forest,” said Samling executive James Ho in an interview broadcast on Swiss television not too long ago. Samling is of course a crony company of Taib Mahmud.

Do they expect the natives to feel joy and exhilaration when tens of thousands of hectares of native customary land and even millions of hectares of state land, including forests (protected and otherwise) where the natives hunt and gather produce are given out to huge non-native crony companies to extract timber and for plantations which do not benefit the natives in the least and violate their customary rights?

Yes, for sure the Sarawak state government under the able but unjust feudal leadership of “Payhim” Sri Taib Mahmud treats native customary rights landowners shoddily, cruelly and oppressively. What else is new?

Native customary rights landowners are only compensated for property and crops found or grown on the land but not the true value of the land when their land is forcibly acquired, supposedly for "public" purposes, which often turns out to be crony "private" interests.

Or where their land is declared a “Development Area” by the relevant state agency such as LCDA which is supposed to protect the rights of the native customary rights landowners, they hardly get what they have been promised and have to wait years for dividends which prove to be grossly inadequate, if any.

At the same time, the government does not bother to account to them for the balance of any “land price” paid by joint venture investors and which is purportedly invested by the government on the landowners’ behalves. Where are the dividends from these “investments”?

Can the natives pray that Taib's government will be "transparent" and accountable?

Does Awang Tengah Ali Hassan aka "Awang Tanah" expect the native customary rights landowners to be happy with this situation? Does he really think that the people are more stupid than him to believe that these native customary rights landowners can be told by NGOs or anyone else for that matter what to feel when they are subject to such oppression? Moron!

Why can’t the government really help the natives instead? Does the government really expect the natives who exercise their customary rights to know all the legal provisions relating to them? It is up to the government to educate the natives and regularize any non-compliance with the legalities pertaining to native customary rights on any land, so as not to mislead the natives into continuing to work on land which they cannot claim customary rights over and will forever remain squatters.

If any aspect of the law is oppressive or unfair to the native customary rights landowners, the government should seriously consider amending the law to remove such injustice, instead of continuing to perpetrate and perpetuate injustice and oppression in the name of and hiding behind the law.

Is it so difficult for the government, given its resources and modern technology at its disposal, to survey and record all native customary rights lands or claims? Give all of them titles as provided for in the Land Code. They are entitled to have titles and the government should not say otherwise since their customary rights are recognized by law, even if not by statute.

They deserve to be consulted if the government has any designs on their land, not to wake up one morning to find their crops and gardens being bulldozed and their very longhouses in jeopardy of being demolished by some crony capitalists.

Worse of all, in asserting their rights, they open themselves up to being accused of being “anti-development”, discriminated against, having basic amenities denied them, treated as trouble-makers and even forcibly evicted and/or arrested and jailed for protesting by the police acting at the behest of the traitorous "government" that protects the rich timber companies against the poor natives.

That is, if the gangsters sent in to intimidate them do not do or finish the job. One would have thought that this only occurred during feudal times.

The BIG question also is, "What are the police doing siding with the big logging companies against native customary rights landowners in what are essentially civil disputes which should be settled in the proper forum, the courts?"

This is clearly an abuse of police powers.

Such gross abuse of power seems to be accepted as normal practice and procedure by the cowardly elected purported “peoples’ representatives”. Not a whimper of protest, not a finger lifted to help, instead more often than not these elected representatives are themselves part of the oppression.

Does a fair and just government need to conduct the business of government in such a shoddy, cruel and oppressive manner?

Undoubtedly not, but then we are not dealing with a fair and just government here. This government is a corrupt and inept government masquerading as one which has the interests of the people at heart. It is cruel, oppressive and heartless.

Do the people of Sarawak, especially the natives exercising their customary rights, deserve such shoddy treatment by their government? Perhaps it is high time that this Chief Minister and his cronies were given the boot (Pak Lah take note) or taken to court for dereliction of their duty. Oops, I forgot, Pak Lah is the BOSS! Is Taib Mahmud then just one of his macais?

Sarawak, Divided Land and its Divided People

Sarawak, Divided Land and its Divided People

Sarawak is now more divided than it ever used to be. This is a direct result of the present Chief Minister’s undisclosed Machiavellian policy of “divide and rule”, a policy which has kept him in power for almost 30 years and unless a miracle happens, looks set to keep him in power for another 10 years at least.

40 years of Taib Mahmud? Enough is enough! Even 30 years is far more than enough. No leader, at least at the top level in the state or federal government, should be in power for more than 10 years, or 2 terms.

In those 30 years, the abundant timber resources of the state have been decimated for the benefit only of a few large companies controlled by his cronies, family and relatives. Many state-owned utilities, departments and agencies have also been privatized to the same limited group as well in deals which do not benefit the state or the people and in fact can be considered rip-offs.

They have been given licence to blatantly loot, pillage and rape. Corruption? Abuse of power and position? Abuse of electoral, legislative and administrative process? Abuse of the law? Abuse of state machinery? Lack of transparency? Unaccountability? Improper control of the media? Favouritism? Nepotism? Cronyism? Misinformation? Vote buying? Ballot-box tampering? Electricity black-out during vote-counting? Unfulfilled promises? Exclusion? Marginalization of entire communities? Disrespect? Discrimination? Deprivation? Disruption? Destruction? Devastation? Coercion, pressure, force, threat and intimidation? Suppression? Thuggery? Gangsterism? Conflict of interest? Self-interest? High-handedness? All part of the game!

Yes, to them it is all a game, a very serious game. Follow the CM. Never mind that the people will suffer, their lands forcibly acquired, their rights denied, opportunities lost and being left out of the whole development process and economic progress. What chance at all do the ordinary people have against this “impressive”, highly intimidating and draconian array of weaponry at the disposal of the CM who has shown his willingness to use it at any opportunity?

What then can the ordinary people of the state do in the face of all of these? That is a question only the people themselves can answer, if they want to break free from the shackles of the neo-feudalistic system that Taib Mahmud has established, a system that should have no place in modern Sarawak.

Failure to do so will condemn untold future generations of Sarawakians to the same serfdom that Taib Mahmud’s “politics of development” offers today. What “politics of development”? For himself, his family and cronies definitely, but for the rest? More politics of misery.

The opposition can expect more offensive intimidation from Taib on any issue it may bring into the State Assembly in the public interest that is against the interests of Taib and his family and cronies.