Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Taib's Baglady & How He Stole The Elections

Thief Minister Stole Election!

A tiny cabal, like thieves in the night, hijacked the machinery of the state and denied the will of the people in Sarawak at the weekend.

Like the perpetrators of a palace coup, a handful of family members, bomoh’s and loyalists mounted an outrageous and blatant rigging of the count. Then, immediately, in an unprecedented act at 10.30pm at night, before even the last votes were counted, they bundled the old Chief Minister into the governor’s office to be sworn back in before the matter could be contested.

But contested it will be. If these plotters and cheats think they can claim legitimacy for Taib, they cannot. All Sarawak knows he is a fraud and that his desperate supporters are seeking to protect the billions they have stolen from the State by keeping him in office.

Sarawak has changed whether they like it or not

The unprecedented and enthusiastic crowds who turned out and rallied for change in all the major towns across Sarawak last week tell us all we need to know about the real election result.

The biggest crowd in all Malaysia’s election history gathered in the small capital of Kuching and made the feelings of the people perfectly plain, as Taib’s armed and aggressive riot police attempted and failed to provoke and harass them.

Police try to disrupt Kuching rally for PR - a record 40,000 peacefully campaigned
for the opposition

By contrast the BN rallies failed hopelessly. Sarawak has changed and all Sarawakians know it. Taib also knows it as he sits in his headquarters at Demak Jaya aware that all around him the people of the capital, his home town of Bintulu, Sibu, Miri and across the country have mobilised against him and want him out.

So strong and so obvious was the unity and determination of those population centres that Taib did not dare cheat too heavily and obviously in the urban areas (apart from some outrageous exceptions, like Senadin, see below) and the opposition swept to victory, more than doubling their seats and wiping out BN as a force in the cities.

But, Taib cheated blatantly and obviously everywhere else, determined to snatch the election by abusing his power over the tiny, rotten rural boroughs.  The Prime Minister of Malaysia, Najib Razak, colluded in this and he too deserves international disdain and condemnation for allowing one of the most corrupt examples of a sham election to ever take place.

He will get that condemnation. Sarawak Report is invited, together with other observers of Malaysia’s shameful actions in Sarawak, to report to the UN’s Human Rights commission imminently in Geneva and we will tell exactly what happened.

The facts will be made known

Because Taib is a known and serial election-cheater his tactics were anticipated and they have been widely noted and recorded. Reports are being carefully compiled and Sarawak Report will be covering the information as it is gathered over the coming days. Much of this election is going to be contested and a re-election will be demanded.

Today PKR leader YB Baru Bian, who was one of just three PKR members who managed to get a seat, despite massive attempts to destabilize him, confirmed that there had been systematic and widespread cheating. Even so, the opposition won 41% of the acknowledged vote – getting just 21% of the seats thanks to the deliberately skewed and corrupt system developed by BN in Sarawak!

So what forms of rigging were used?

Taib used sister-in-law Gertie to bring the money!

Gertie Chong - Taib's brother Arip's 2nd wife

Just consider how Taib went about saving his own skin in Balingian, a constituency where for the past five years he has pillaged the timber and grabbed land from the poor.

We have received inside information that his own sister-in-law, Gertie Chong (widow of Arip) was the one who was charged with bringing the bags of money over from Sibu to bribe and bully the impoverished voters. This is how small and desperate the circle of Taib’s supporters has become.

She handed it out to the PBB workers who then went round the houses distributing a full RM1,000 per door to people, so impoverished by their Chief Minister and State Representative, that they lack even enough barrels to capture sufficient rainwater to drink.

Taib’s ‘development’ has caused the pollution of their rivers and streams – they would dearly love him gone.

But, Gertie brought them RM1,000 per door! Last election it was only RM50! More than anything, the wild inflation of Taib’s bribes tells you the level of his deep unpopularity.

The Shin Yang connection

And where did this money come from? It came from Shin Yang. The crony timber and plantation company which has relied on Taib for the fat concessions that have turned its owner Ling Chiong Ho from being a barge handler in Sibu, working for Taib’s brother Onn Mahmud’s Achipelago shipping monopoly just a few years ago, into a multi-millionaire.

So, of course Shin Yang had to cough up. As far as Taib was concerned he was calling in favours – the sort of favours that gangsters call in.  Just look at the evidence on Shin Yang’s palm concessions alone, all handed to them via private deals with Taib Mahmud’s Resources and Planning Ministry.

In just one case alone, Shin Yang is the major shareholder of Sarawak Oil Palms Bhd, which used to be a government venture. Taib, in a typical move, privatised it into a public company in 1990 and Shin Yang was allowed to buy over 37% of the company.

Since then Sarawak Oil Palms says it has expanded its land-bank to 65,000 hectares, with 35,000 planted with oil palm in Sarawak. All of course thanks to concessions given by Taib.

Gerald Rentap Jabu, son of Deputy CM Alfred Jabu (who also bought his way into scraping back his seat) is also on the Board of Sarawak Oil Palms. Until recently, Taib’s brother and proxy, Onn Mahmud, held shares in the company through his own nominee, Shea Kin Kwok, identified as a key player in the Japanese timber kick-back scandal.

Onn's proxy shareholding in the former state asset.

However, the concessions that have come Ling Chiong Ho’s way are far more extensive even than this. The current land registry document published by Sarawak Report in March shows no fewer than 75 lots handed to numerous of companies controlled by Ling Chiong Ho.

Danum Jaya Sdn Bhd,  Linau Mewah Sdn Bhd, Mazama Plantations Sdn Bhd, Shin Yang Oil Palm Sdn Bhd, Sarawak Oil Palm Bhd, Dataran Danum Sdn Bhd, Danum Sinar Sdn Bhd, Dataran Seping Sdn Bhd, Linau Sinar Sdn Bhd, Selangau Plantation Sdn Bhd, have been handed huge areas at rock bottom prices.

Just one enormous chunk of this land, some 90,000 hectares, has been acquired in Belaga, the area that Taib had cleared for the Bakun dam project. Shin Yang has already been slammed by NGOs for its handling of the timber concessions given to them by Taib in the Belaga area and disregard for the native communities.

We can also see from the land registry that further huge tracts of plantation land have been handed to Shin Yang in the other planned Dam areas of Baram (13,000 hectares) and Murum (16,500 hectares). [see list of companies and concessions at the bottom of the article].

And Taib’s own constituents of Balingian have not been let off the hook either.

Shin Yan has taken land in Taib's own constituency.

Ling Chiong Ho has also walked off with fat plantation concessions in Mukah and numerous other concessions in the Bintulu area.

Land taken in Bintulu by Shin Yan - well over a hundred thousand hectares in total

So, the money with which Taib was buying his voters was money taken from the removal and exploitation of their lands in the first place! RM1,000 was of course a lot to Taib’s impoverished voters. But it would have been nothing to them if Taib had fairly developed their land and ensured they got some of the profit!

Go getter Gertie

Bag Carrier - Gertie Chong was the one who brought the money from Shin Yang in Sibu to buy votes in Balingian.

It is of little surprise that Gertie Chong was the family member chosen by Taib to carry out his dirty work in Balingian. She is the 2nd and favourite wife of his favourite brother Arip and her name pops up as a major shareholder in a good number of Taib crony companies.  She is a major shareholder of Jaya Tiasa, the company based on plantations handed to her husband by Taib and then sold on for a fat profit to the tycoon Tiong Hiew King of Rimbunan Hijau Group.

Gertie is also a fellow director and shareholder with Taib Mahmud himself in the company Mesti Bersatu, a shareholder in the Royal Mulu resort and Miri Properties, which owns the Marriott in Miri among other ventures.  She also is a shareholder in Lanco Plantations, along with Taib himself.

Indeed, Gertie has been associated with so many of the Mahmud family business ventures that have taken advantage of their political stranglehold on the state, that it is no surprise that she was brought in to help with the emergency operation of keeping them in power at whatever cost – in fact RM1,000 per constituent is a very small cost indeed by comparison to what they have made and doubtless intend to make in the future.

Despite this Taib’s majority in Balingian was slashed from some 6,000 to around 2,000 on the day, so sickened have his people been by his greed and landgrabbing.

Gangster CM used gangster tactics to grab the election 

Sarawak Report will be accumulating the details of this election theft as reliable reports and evidence is collated from the different districts over the next few days.  However, our report to the UN will include the following points:

-         The Mass Disenfranchisement of much of the population of the interior, which enables Taib to operate a ‘rotten borough system’, where seats are decided by just a tiny number of people whom he can pressure and influence.  470,000 natives of the interior do not have voting rights out of Sarawak’s 2.5 million total population. Taib has deliberately pretended that he finds it ‘difficult’ to register remote communities who resent his destruction of the jungle.  However, while he says he cannot reach them, he has sure managed to reach their trees!

-      BN has used this ‘rotten borough’ system to achieve 77% of the seats with just 55% of the votes,  creating what they call their ‘fixed deposit’ of seats in Sarawak.  PR gained 41% of the votes at this election (despite all the cheating) only to receive 21% of the seats. Equally, seats in the towns consist of up to 30,000 voters, whereas those dotted around the interior amounted to 6,000 voters and these are easier for BN to bully, bribe and control.

-        The illegal touting of projects and votes by BN politicians, including the Prime Minister, in the run up to the election. These are used as a direct bribe and form of blackmail as it is made clear to voters that they will not get the projects and worse may be discriminated against in the provision of basic amenities if they do not vote BN.

-         The abuse of postal votes. Only allowing government workers to use them and pressurising these employees to vote BN. Also the outrageous targeting of postal votes at single constituencies they want to influence, rather than the constituencies the voter actually comes from. The practice of doubling up by sending in postal votes eg by the army and then bringing in plane loads of the same soldiers to vote in person as well! The introduction of suspicious last minute ‘postal votes’ in order to try and boost BN’s tallies far later than legally allowed.

-         Use of gangsters to intimidate and turn away voters from the polling stations.

-         Abuses by the electoral commission, which include switching voters’ polling stations away from their home areas to distant places they cannot get to, suddenly on the day of the vote. The hiding of ballot boxes for periods of time, so that agents cannot tell if they have been tampered with and illegally withholding (on the direct orders of the Election Commission) the Form 14 information that confirms the tally of each box, so that a proper monitoring can take place of the count.  Switching off the lights and ‘counting’ in the dark.

-         The cutting off of mobile phone networks on the day to inhibit the opposition from keeping up with what is happening.

-         The naked bribery by BN of poor voters the day before the vote. Offering money in return for their ID numbers and then paying the remainder only when they have proved that they have voted for BN! The scale of these bribes went sky high at this election, indicating just how unpopular BN is and how much they had to pay to get people to give in and vote for them.

Senadin – one case history 

There will be more examples with back-up information of BN’s gangster tactics, but Sarawak Report will be presenting the case of Senadin at the UN this week. 

- PKR was leading the vote by 1000+ during the last ballot counting.

- Suddenly a blackout conveniently occurred happened during the last ballot counting in the Miri City Stadium.

- Blackout lasted 1 hour+ and the Election Commission continued counting with a sudden appearance of bought votes and ‘postal’ votes at an illegally late hour.

- SUPP were declared ‘winners’ with slim majority 58 votes after postal votes.

- There were announced to be 158 ‘spoiled’ votes favouring PKR.

- The SPR refused a recount, despite the fact that there was a clear case for a recount.

In this way the 20,000 crowd which had gathered in Miri to support PKR on the night that less than 100 were prepared to attend the rival rally by BN’s George Chan, just a few days before, were denied the obvious representative of their choice. Instead one of Taib’s key supporters was forced upon them to help the Chief Minister in his attempt to continue his gangster government.

No legitimacy

PR are contesting this election on a number of fronts. The BN Federal Government will use all means at their disposal however to continue to prop up Taib who keeps them in power.

This is despite the fact that he daily embarrasses and shames Malaysia through his corruption and his greedy exploitation of his impoverished people. Najib would dearly love to be rid of the old parasite, but he is yet to find a way. Certainly, the Prime Minister’s election promise that if Taib ‘won’ for BN he would shortly step down will be one of many, many, many promises made by BN at this election that will not be fulfilled.

Taib has no legitimacy. He knows it, Najib knows it and the people of Sarawak know it. The rest of the world will know it too.

[Below are the concessions given to Shin Yang's Ling Chiong Ho in recent years. No wonder Taib was expecting pay back time. Shin Yang paid for his election bribes].

Ling Chiong Ho's plantation concessions - but it was payback time at the election!

Deny BN The Government

Dean Johns
Apr 20, 11

The denial-of-service (DOS) attacks on the Malaysiakini and Sarawak Report sites in the week of the recent Sarawak election demonstrated not only how desperate Malaysia's BN regime is to cling to power at all costs, but how much trouble it's in.

Let's face it, any government that can 'win' an election only by silencing the few free voices of truth on top of gerry-mandering the electoral boundaries, manipulating postal voting, employing the police and other civil services to browbeat the opposition and intimidate its supporters, exposing the people to the massive propaganda power of the pro-regime mainstream media, and bribing voters hand-over-fist with public money, has to be running very scared indeed.

BN certainly has lots to be scared of. Like growing public resentment of its massive and systematic corruption, as symbolised by the obscene wealth of freshly re-elected Sarawak Chief Minister, Abdul 'The Termite' Taib Mahmud and his family.

It also has good cause to be running scared of the scornful public backlash against recent attempts by the 'Datuk Trio' to implicate Anwar Ibrahim in yet another sex scandal on top of the government's second try to nail him on trumped-up sodomy charges.

Even more scary for BN are the increasingly seething public suspicions surrounding an endless series of scandals, from the murder of Altantuya Shariibuu to all the dodgy deaths in police and MACC custody and the strange inability of anti-corruption 'efforts' to net any big fish in these and all the massive financial scams like, to mention just a random few, the PKFZ, Bakun Dam and Scorpene submarines rip-offs.

And now BN has even more reason than ever to be very, very nervous as it witnesses the downfall of similar regimes in Tunisia and Egypt, and the bringing of top-level malefactors in these countries to justice.

NONELong-running BN-style regimes are in terrible trouble in Libya and Yemen too, and even in Syria the supremely arrogant President Assad has been reduced to frantically promising reforms like ending 40 years of 'emergency' law, instigating a two-party political system and permitting press freedom.

BN has been promising reforms for donkey's years too, of course, but has delivered nothing but pretence and propaganda. For example, despite claiming to be in favour of a press "that the nation can be proud of," Najib Razak continues to preside over a complex of completely BN-biased mainstream 'news' media.

Even the Internet in Malaysia, which former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad promised would never be censored, has recently been ranked by the UN's Freedom House way down the list, in the likes of the situation in Pakistan, Russia, Zimbabwe and Mubarak's Egypt, and as at best only "partly free".

And as a result of the recent DOS attacks on Malaysiakini and Sarawak Report, Malaysia will doubtless sink even lower in next year's rankings.

azlanNot to mention even lower, if possible, in the estimation of the more than two million unique visitors to Malaysiakini and countless more to other pro-democracy sites every month.

But DOS attacks on truth-telling Internet sites, as dire as they may be, are just part of a much bigger, uglier picture. This is because BN has, over the decades, mounted and maintained DOS attacks on virtually every institution in Malaysia.

Mahathir staged a massive DOS attack on the judiciary back in 1988 with his sacking of the then Lord President of the (then) Federal Court, Salleh Abas, and simultaneously mounted a deadly DOS attack on civil society by having dozens of opponents arrested and detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) in his notorious Operasi Lalang.

The Malaysian police force has also staged a long-running series of DOS attacks on the populace by the series of home ministers and inspector-generals of police who took charge, all dedicated to serving the interests of the BN regime, rather than the people of Malaysia in general.

And denial of service (DOS), or denial of the sort of honest, efficient, straightforward service Malaysian citizens have the right to expect, is also the name of the game in the other civil services, such as the Malaysian Customs, for example, whose corrupt officers have cost Malaysia billions of ringgit by helping themselves to duit kopi instead of doing their job of collecting duties.

Across the entire government and civil service, there's no telling how much the BN denial-of-service (DOS) system has stolen from the Malaysian economy over the years, let alone cost the Malaysian people in lost income, opportunities, amenities and benefits.

So it's high time for Malaysians to follow the shining examples of their fellows in Tunisia, Egypt and other former fascist kleptocracies, and get rid of the criminal scum whose DOS attacks rob them of not just basic human rights to speak, write, read and hear the truth, but of proper protection against perversions of justice, predatory police and plunder by politicians and public servants.

cij press freedom central market 030508 newspapersIt's high time that Malaysians fought back against BN. Starting by avenging denial-of-service (DOS) attacks on pro-democracy websites and bloggers by staging denial-of-purchase (DOP) attacks on the BN regime's lying newspapers, and denial-of-viewing (DOV) and denial-of-listening (DOL) assaults on BN's mendacious air media.

Simultaneously, every citizen can wage his or her personal denial-of-bribes (DOB) campaign against corrupt police and other functionaries.

But such DOS, DOP, DOV, DOL and DOB attacks, as satisfying as they would be to an extent, would be only preliminaries to the forthcoming mother of all opportunities to repay BN for decades of denial-of-service (DOS): an overwhelming denial-of-votes (DOV) at the forthcoming general election.

In other words, there's only one way to deal for once and for all with BN's perennial denial-of-honesty (DOH), denial-of-justice (DOJ), denial-of-accountability (DOA) and denial-of-service (DOS) to Malaysia, and that's for all Malaysians to unite in treating this rotten regime to a killer denial-of-government (DOG) attack.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Erosion of Support For BN In Sarawak

Bridget Welsh
Apr 19, 11
COMMENT The dust has begun to settle on the 10th Sarawak polls with the BN touting its retention of the two-thirds majority as a victory, while Pakatan Rakyat points to the more than doubling of its seats. This was the most competitive state election in Sarawak's history and was hard fought by both sides.

BN, led by Prime Minister Najib Razak essentially camped in the state for 10 days to assure the two-thirds, while the opposition also focused is national machinery in Sarawak, bringing in the top guns from Peninsular Malaysia and thousands of party workers.

A closer look at the results show that the opposition has made impressive ground, despite its failure to break the two-thirds threshold. Sarawak is no longer BN's fixed deposit, and trends in mobilisation and support suggest that it is even more likely not to be so unless Sarawak BN radically changes how it governs.

Myth of Chinese-only swing

The spin on this election reflects a similar tone of 2006, focusing on the gains in urban seats and Chinese voters. The implicit threat in Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud's statement that the Chinese will pay for their lack of loyalty highlights the perception that the losses are the product of continued Chinese support for the opposition.

In terms of sheer number of voters for the opposition, this is correct. In all the Chinese-majority seats - from Padungan to Bukit Assek - the level of support for the opposition increased, both in number of votes and share of the vote.

NONEThis reflected the dynamic - almost electrifying - opposition campaign in the urban areas, especially in Miri where voters experienced the political awakening that their counterparts in Kuching had experienced in 2006, and in Sibu at the 2010 by-election.

No question about it, a growing number of Chinese supported the opposition in Sarawak. The interesting finding from the results, however, is that they are not alone, and in fact the Chinese swing toward the opposition is comparatively less (yes, less) than the changes within other communities.

By comparing the 2011 results with those of 2006, I trace the changes in voter turnout and share of support (percentage of majority among voters who turned out to vote) for the opposition at the seat level and, when appropriate and with available data, the polling stream level.

azlanThe preliminary findings highlight that the movement is greatest in mixed constituencies, and significant movement occurred across the ethnic communities, even the Malays.

Let's begin with the mobilisation of voters across ethnicities. The 2011 polls show an impressive increase in voter turnout, in keeping with the increased competitiveness of the election. The greatest turnout increase was among the Malays, where the PBB machinery was well-honed, as more voters were brought to the polls, followed by increased participation of Chinese and Iban voters.

What this impressive increase in mobilisation across groups reveals is that Sarawakians recognised their power as voters and came out to vote in an unprecedented manner. This highlights the growing appreciation of political power in Sarawak and engagement with politics, which is in keeping with the unprecedented crowds at ceramah across the state, even in the rural areas.

azlanThe table (left) also highlights that the change in voting across the ethnic communities. The greatest movement compared to 2006 was in mixed seats, followed by movement in the Orang Ulu community in places such as Ba'Kelalan (where Baru Bian won his seat) but also places such as Telang Usan.

The share of movement in Orang Ulu-majority seats is large, a 20% swing. These numbers can be a bit deceiving in that the actual numbers of voters in Sarawak are small and 20% can reflect a small number of voters in the small constituencies, yet nevertheless, the swing is significant.

Ibans and Bidayuhs too change loyalities

Why then, given the swing, did the seats not move into opposition hands? The reason is simple - before 2011 opposition support in some of these areas was minuscule. In many constituencies, the opposition needed more than a 40% change to win. Yet there has been a very large swing, which is much larger than the swing in Peninsular Malaysia in 2008.

From my perspective, the most interesting ethnic changes occurred in the Malay/Melanau, Iban and Bidayuh areas. A look at the seat tally suggests that Malays are squarely in the BN camp. The PBB won all 35 of its seats and PAS failed to win a single seat, even in the close contest of Beting Maro.

The Malay/Melanau seats are interesting in a number of ways. First, the pattern towards the opposition varies, with a few of the seats moving even more strongly toward the BN, such as Sadong Jaya, and as such, the pattern is uneven.

Yet the Malay/Melanau ground was more competitive with more straight fights and more contests, such as in Daro and Dalat. PAS, in particular, made inroads. To suggest that the Malay/Melanau community is firmly behind the BN is wrong. Their support is changing as well, in spite of the ethnic campaigning and use of the racial card.

The Iban and Bidayuh majority seats also followed the pattern of opposition gains. In Iban areas, there was less movement in the share of the vote and like the Malay/Melanau seats the pattern was not consistent across seats toward the opposition, with some increased support towards the BN in Engkilili, but overall, the Iban have also changed loyalties.
As is shown in this table (right), this occurred most starkly in semi-rural areas.

The Bidayuh seats were seen to be those that would have determined whether the opposition broke the two-thirds or not. Pakatan hoped to pick up at least three of these Bidayuh seats, as sentiment on the ground toward the BN had shifted due to the religious issues and persistent exclusion of this group from economic benefits.

Higher education among the Bidayuh had increased awareness and exposure to political issues. The opposition failed to win a single seat, but here too the gains in the share of majority were impressive - an estimated 17.9% swing.

The bottom line is that the view that this election was the product of a bifurcated pattern of support - Chinese with the opposition and other groups with the BN - is wrong. Every group expressed serious concerns with the BN, and this was driven primarily with angst toward the long tenure and perceived excesses of the chief minister.

The urban voters myth

It is thus not surprising that given the changes across the board across ethnic communities, another myth needs to be shattered, namely that the opposition support is only in the urban areas.

Much has been made that the opposition won two very rural seats, Ba'kelalan and Krian. Yet, the most significant gains in terms of seats were in the semi-rural areas - for example, Batu Kawah, Dudong, Piasau (which has a large semi-rural area). The close fight in Senadin is also illustrative.

My preliminary analysis at the seat level shows that the gains in semi-rural seats were more than in the other areas, 19.7% compared to 14.8% in the rural areas and 13.4% in the urban communities.

NONEThe 'safe' seats in the urban periphery are no longer 'safe'. The change in voting pattern reflected not just Chinese support for Pakatan, but Iban and Bidayuh support as well. In fact, what is especially interesting is that the movement in support in rural areas is more than the share in urban areas (although it is important to note that the urban areas have more voters).

More than anything, these findings point illustrate how much the 'fixed deposit' is no longer secure. Semi-rural and rural cracks in BN support are part of the new Sarawak, a more competitive polity that has become increasingly receptive to a stronger two-party system and critical of BN governance, especially in the areas of corruption.

The growing youth revolution

The election of young candidates in the opposition in some cases fresh out to university may come as a surprise to some, but it highlights the final important dynamic in this election, the massive movement among young voters away from the BN.

Chong Snr ceramah in kuchingDrawing from the study of 'saluran' results in seven seats so far, from the Miri, Kuching and Bidayuh areas (semi-rural and urban seats), the findings suggest that a youth revolt has occurred.

In the lower polling streams, where new voters are concentrated, more than 70% of voters opposed the BN. Given the largely young crowds at rallies, especially in Kuching and Miri, this is no surprise.

We see two pattern - higher mobilisation of younger voters, an estimated 16% increase in turnout compared to older voters, and an overwhelming level of support for Pakatan among younger voters in the lower streams, with a change in trend of over 25%. In 2006, there was already stronger support for the opposition among the youth, but this appears to have significantly increased.

azlanWhen one considers the high number of younger voters that did not register, estimated in the 100,000s in Sarawak, and the large number of younger voters working outstation, these results should be quite worrying for the BN indeed. The fact that the election came before Gawai (harvest festival) is also important as it is likely that when younger voters returned home possibly further movement from the BN could have occurred.

Many a younger voter in my exit interviews highlighted the fact that they convinced their parents (and grandparents) to change support. The youthful composition of voting this election compared to 2006 shows that indeed a revolution among younger voters has occurred in Sarawak.

Rise of a new Sarawak

These results are preliminary and need to further confirmed with the official results at the 'saluran' (polling stream) level. This analysis is drawn from the newspaper publication of results and 'saluran' results that have been made available immediately after the polls, so the numbers should be seen as indicators of trends rather than absolutes.

These findings collectively show that there is indeed a new Sarawak, that voters across races, across geographic areas and especially the state's future are no longer supporting the BN to the same degree. While the two-thirds may not have been broken, profound political change did come to Sarawak.

It remains to be seen whether the opposition can continue to the momentum or the BN will address the root causes of the discontent, but irrespective of this, Sarawak remains critical for the political direction of the country - now more than ever.

DR BRIDGET WELSH is associate professor of political science at Singapore Management University and she can be reached at She was in Sarawak to observe the state election.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Good Luck To All Sarawakians Today!

Sarawak Headhunter wishes all Sarawakians "Good Luck!" in the elections today. May Allah deliver us from the evil clutches of Taib, his family, their cronies and BN henchmen.

Sarawak - The Next Step

April 15, 2011
SIBU, April 15 — An independent online survey among over 1,000 Sarawakians have found that a significant number express the wish that Sarawak should leave the federation of Malaysia and be its own sovereign country.

This was the most popular “wish” under a category of governance issues in the survey which was conducted through online social network Facebook and Twitter.

But talk of secession is considered seditious in Malaysia.

Other wishes include a corruption-free administration, separation of the judicial, executive and law-making branches of government, no politicisation of religion and total ownership of petroleum revenues.

The poll, called the “Sarawak Wish List”, was done by influential, non-partisan local youth group called the Sarawak Bloggers.

The survey was conducted from April 4 to 7 and is intended to present a collective voice to politicians ahead of the state election tomorrow.

Respondents, who were mainly young, tech-savvy Sarawakians, were asked to vote for what they considered to be the most pressing concern in Sarawak. Participants could only vote once for a concern or suggestion.

The poll garnered 3,780 votes within three days, said Eileen Foong, a member of the group.

The suggestion “Sarawak to leave Malaysia” attracted more than half of the 795 votes under the governance category. The category itself represented 21 per cent of the total votes cast.

Foong explained that the wish was rooted in the feeling that Sarawak had not prospered in tandem with the rest of Malaysia despite being one of its richest states.

“There is a feeling that many policies that do not really benefit us have been imposed on us from the peninsula, that there is a bias in terms of focus and development.

“So it’s another way of saying, because Sarawak has not really benefited from being part of Malaysia, maybe we’d be better off on our own,” she said.

“But this does not in any way mean that it’s achievable. It’s a sentiment based on frustration with how the federal government has treated Sarawak.”

Not all who were frustrated with unequal development voted to leave Malaysia however. The suggestion “faster and better development” was also a popular suggestion with 332 votes or nine per cent of total votes cast.

Overall, the biggest share of votes (22 per cent) went to a category on better road and transportation networks. This included suggestions for a public transport system, railroads and roads into every village.

Economic issues had the third largest vote pool (11 per cent) which reflected respondents’ wishes for more job opportunities, lower housing costs and lower petrol prices.

The rest of the categories comprised wishes for better education facilities such as universities and colleges and improved human rights such as titles for tribal land and total freedom of religion. Both garnered 6 per cent of total votes.

The remaining categories comprise suggestions under:

• the telecommunications category, for state-wide Wifi coverage and better mobile phone services (6 per cent)
• entertainment — local theme park, more events (5 per cent)
• forests and the environment — stop deforestation, no more dams (5 per cent)
• basic amenities — electricity and water supply for everyone (4 per cent)
• health facilities — more hospitals (3 per cent)
• reduce crime — (2 per cent)
A copy of the poll results has been handed over to some political parties contesting the election. The Sarawak Bloggers group however declined to reveal the identity of these parties.

Sarawakians, Time To Take A Chance On Yourselves After 30 Years

Friday, 15 April 2011

Sarawakians! Give yourselves a chance. Free yourselves from 30 years of misery!

For once, the people of Sarawak must do themselves a favor. Give yourselves a chance. Not give others a chance. They have had 30 years. You only need this one chance. This is your hour. Let your progeny say in future, this was your finest hour.

This is your chance to regain your dignity and pride as a decent human being. Give yourselves the chance to determine your own destiny. Or at the very least, show to those in power that you matter. There is nothing to fear except fear itself.

Show those in power the cant scare you with the presence of coercive instruments of power. The police and the army guarding your long houses are there protecting you. Those RELA people out there are only there for a brief time. What's left is how you determine your life.

Throw out corruption. Throw out incompetence. Throw out a lifetime of neglect. Reject the bullies.

Give your children and grandchildren the chance. Say it's enough. You gave Taib Mahmud 30 years of chance. He has taken everything. He has taken the most precious thing from you-your sense of self-worth. Will the Dayaks continue to be complicit in the charade of showing they are only good at performing the ngajat dance and in that process, be regarded as nothing more than objects of cultural curiosity?

Will that treatment give you decent housing, clean water, electricity? Has it given you that? Remember the misery of walking miles down the road to get a can of kerosene. Don't forget the humiliation of being given portable computers where electricity is nonexistent. Remember forests and the trees that are gone forever.

Can the heads with the same set thinking usher in a better future? The answer must be an emphatic NO. How can the SAME thinking coming out from the SAME heads, accustomed to keeping entire peoples in callous disregard, unchallenged incompetence and open arrogance be capable of turning over a new leaf? Agreeing to this proposition is self-deceit of the highest order. It's a crime against humanity itself. 

In a previous lifetime of glory and pride, the only solution that Sarawakians are renowned for, is to cut off their enemy's head. Those in power are no longer your benefactors. They stand on the side of the enemy of the people.

If you give Taib and his government another chance, it means you are willing to allow him to perpetuate years of neglect, corruption incompetence and arrogance. It's not going to be enough. It will be 30 years of the SAME neglect, incompetence and arrogance and corruption.

For 30 years, the chance to give yourself a decent living and the chance to give yourself dignity has been forcibly taken away. It has been taken away by 30 years of neglect, negligence and arrogance. The neglect exemplified most horribly by the waste laid bare on your land which forms the very spring and essence of your life.

What has the majority of the Sarawak people achieved? The fruits of development enjoyed by the elite while the majority languished in a world that time seem to forget? After 30 years, 6000 longhouses are still without electricity and water in a state which boasts the biggest hydro dam?

This Sunday, dubbed Super Sunday will be judgment day for Taib Mahmud and his ruling PBB and his partner parties. These past weeks are the trial that leads to that judgment day. What is the purpose of the judgment day?

The purpose of that judgment day, is for the court of the people, to call up those who manage the state to account for what they have done. That in essence is what accountability means. You are called up to account for the things you have done.

What has Taib and his party done to Sarawak for the last 30 years? Taib and his cabal of leaders have brought much development to Sarawak. To free Sarawakians from primitive state of affairs- underdevelopment stunted growth, primitive lifestyles, civilizing the natives bringing them into the 20th century and beyond.

All that, said the wise people is spectacular development. Sterling! Screamed some people with lard-laden brains.

The people of Sarawak has only one response to give to Taib and his cabal of leaders- continue giving us the lies, we shall not stop uncovering the truths.

Right now, you have only one historic mission. Get Taib to step down as Chief Minister. Showing him the exit is the single most potent weapon and burning issue against the Barisan Nasional in the state general elections. Whoever sides with Taib stands for corruption and against the people.

Getting him out has united Sarawakians . This shared thinking is possible because 30 years of his kleptocratic rule as Chief Minister has bred and entrenched the habits of non-accountability, lack of transparency and absence decency of good governance. Remember kleptocracy is associated with the meaning of thief and theft.

That thiever, none better illustrated by the mountain of allegations on abuses of power and rampant corruption under his rule which he has not been able to rebut. Dato Seri Najib Razak is not unaware of what is happening to Sarawak with Taib at the helm, but Najib appears to have been immobilized by the phalanx of bomohs and witches surrounding Taib Mahmud.

It is obvious, DS Najib is even powerless to have Taib committed to an early date to step down . The PM has repeatedly been rebuffed by the Chief Minister and there is nothing the Prime Minister could do about it.

Taib Mahmud is not an UMNO member and his reaction to the PM's announcement that Taib will leave office is like telling the PM to F off from his turf. Taib is saying, who are you telling me what to do with my office, in my state? Sarawak is Taib's country. The PM can't do anything, but the people of Sarawak can.

Give yourselves that chance. Don't turn to others for succor.


16th April 2011 - Will Sarawak Find Its Voice At The Ballox Box Today?

416: Sarawak, Silent No More

15 April, 2011
By Adrian Chew
LoyarBurokker and Sibu native Adrian Chew tells us to watch closely, as change is in the air in Sarawak.


"Ladies and gentlemen, I am now locked up in a handcuff that has taken a British mechanic five years to make.
I do not know whether I am going to get out of it or not, but I can assure you I am going to do my best."
Harry Houdini, London Hippodrome, St Patrick’s Day, 1904.

There’s something heavy in the air in the hornbill state.

Take a walk in any of the cities and towns and you’ll feel that undeniable sense of unity and common purpose.

Thousands upon thousands throng political ceramahs every night. Our placid roads turn into long crawling lines of red brake lights. Normally frugal womenfolk readily take out RM10 notes from their purses to insert into donation boxes. Heavy rains don’t deter thousands from coming and staying.

Sit in any coffeeshop during the day and you’ll notice everyone’s an overnight political commentator and connoisseur of oratory. Listen carefully and you’ll hear the same gripes repeated at every table.

Years of pent-up anger and frustration are coming to a boil. People come to hear all their dissatisfactions with the present government finally verbalised. You’ll empathise because as much as these are our problems, you’ll see that they’re also yours.

This state election is unlike previous ones in Sarawak. It’s obvious that something’s afoot. There is a feeling of empowerment and camaraderie. Everyone feels infused with renewed energy and a single clear mission — Change. Demand It.

Our political awakening is coupled with deep-rooted frustration. And why wouldn’t we feel this way?

After all, who isn’t affected by rampant corruption in the state? Who doesn’t notice the few who have and the many who don’t? Who doesn’t have issues related to land? Whose son or daughter needs to leave the state to get a decent education or find a better paying job? And whose children and grandchildren never came back after that?

Symbolic of the detachment between the current crop of leaders and the people, local politicians continue to pose for newspapers, pointing their fingers at clogged drains and potholes promising to fix them if re-elected. Land premiums will be lowered and there’ll be automatic renewals of land leases.

"Floods will be a thing of the past because look, we’re raising road levels." (never mind that the road is now the same level as your roof).

"This is a state election and these are the real Sarawak issues," they assert. "Don’t be too concerned and influenced by Semenanjung issues."

They’ll have us believe we’re a state unto ourselves and that what happens across the dividing sea has no effect on local affairs. And by focusing on the symptoms, hopefully we’ll forget the illness.

But we know better now.

Urban voters have come of age and can identify corruption and failure of governance as the main causes of these problems. We’re aware that the candidates we vote into the DUN or Parliament must be able to carry our voices and translate them into action. They must be capable of formulating policies that are far-sighted and beneficial to their electorates.

We want representatives who will work for us and solve our problems. Not create more.

If they’re elected in and must still sit on the opposition benches, then the least we can do is to make sure we send in those who dare to speak and speak up strongly because so often is it the case in Malaysia that pro-government wakil rakyat (people’s representatives) keep mute on issues that are closest to the people’s hearts.

We’re also very aware that the power structure here that keeps this illness untreated in the state is the same lifeline that enables the wanton abuse of power on the other side of the sea to go unchecked.

While Sarawak may not yet experience religious crackdowns, deteriorating racial relations or the stifling of civil political discourse now commonplace in the peninsula, if we keep quiet and acquiesce, it is only a matter of time before those scenes are seen here.

Already, we share a deeply entrenched culture of economic rent seeking and government-assisted monopolies that are bleeding our economy dry. Already too, there is open discontent and people expressing differing opinions to a government unaccustomed to listening.

The crisis we face today is real and it transcends state boundaries.

Money is being pumped into constructing infrastructures we don’t need. More dams and power supply than we know what to do with. For quick returns, we welcome more industries that pose environmental and health risks to our own population. More displacement of natives to make way for logging and plantation concessions. At every level, benefits go to a select few and seldom to the masses.

On our streets, crime is high. To make matters worse, those we entrust to keep us safe stand accused of brutality. A 15-year-old is gunned down after a car chase. There are deaths in lock-ups. People fall out of windows. Couples are arrested for celebrating Valentine’s Day. Courts, our last bastion of justice, are not seen to be dispensing basic fairness. Even lawyers talk about boycotting them.

Institutions that are supposed to protect us no longer function as such. How can you fault the ordinary Malaysian on the street for having no confidence in the government? We’ve come to the point where we’re begging for protection from all these institutions.

As if it’s not bad enough that we’ve failed ourselves, we’ve also failed our future generations by turning our education system into a farce with all the policy flip-flopping. In Sarawak, there are children entering secondary schools today who are unable to recite the alphabet or read simple words.

They can’t converse in Bahasa Malaysia much less English and speak only Iban in their classrooms. What do we do to address this problem? Certainly, spending more money on laptops and Internet connection isn’t the answer. We’re going everywhere except to the root of the problem.

The 85-year-old Bidayuh market stall owner I know in town speaks more fluent English than most of the schoolchildren today. It is the height of irony that a man who lived his best years under British colonial rule is better equipped today to deal with the challenges of the 21st century than his own grandchildren.

Even natives deep in rural Sarawak who make a deliberate choice to live a life of subsistence and not be bothered with all these issues are also not spared. Thousands have had their land taken from them and forced to defend their birth rights in an alien bureaucracy against corporations that have little care for what they’ve lost. Alone they stand for the state too has conspired against them.

Seek solace, you say? Grab your Bible and pray to God? You’ll only be reminded of another sad fact that our government is everywhere except the places it should be. Everything it does is a mass of contradictions.

What right-thinking Sarawakian can look around and still believe this nation is in good hands? Malaya’s ablaze. Sabah doesn’t even half belong to Sabahans anymore.

It’s obvious what needs to be done on 416.

Something’s got to change.

So watch what we do.

Soon enough your turn will come too.

This article was published on The Malaysian Insider.

Friday, April 15, 2011

How Taib Made His Billions

Taib’s Ten Income Streams

How did he get the money?

Recently we spoke to one of Taib’s key business partners in strict confidence. He explained to us what he described as the 10 main income streams that have turned the Chief Minister into a multi-billionaire over the past 30 years. In the process he gave us a fascinating insight into the business practices of Abdul Taib Mahmud.

They all involve the abuse of power, corruption and the exploitation of the people and environment of Sarawak. Our interviewee, who has done years of business with the Mahmud family, told us he believes that Taib is probably the richest man in South East Asia, having cashed in the Sarawak Rainforest.

Income Stream 1

He got nothing of course!

Timber Licences– The Ministry of Forests issues timber licences for 5, 10, 15 years. It is the Chief Minister who decides the price and he demands money to issue them.

Cronies who deal with the Chief Minister are instructed to pay their bribes and kickbacks into foreign bank accounts outside of Sarawak, often in Hong Kong or Singapore in the early days.

The informant told us that, because the timber companies declare so little profit, very little tax is paid and hardly any of the money made from felling the trees came back into Sarawak.

Income Stream 2

Taib has admitted he "started daughter Jamilah up in business". CAN$4.5 million was invested in the first year into Sakto alone.

Tonnage- On top of this, our informant told us, he charges the timber company a kickback of RM100 per ton of wood they log. This alone is worth RM2 billion a year, since for the last 30 years around 20 million tons have been felled each year.

Income Stream 3

Extending Timber Licences – Companies wanting to be listed on the Stock Exchange have a requirement that the expiry date for their assigned areas has to be at least 15 years, meaning they have to extend their licences.

They go to the CM who says “Ok can you see my brother Onn” [in the earlier period Onn managed Taib’s businesses in Sarawak and abroad].

Sakto in Canada is worth hundreds of millions of dollars

Because the requirement by the KL Stock Exchange was 30% Bumi Shareholders the timber tycoon would invite a Taib family member of Taib’s choice to take these 30% of the shares for free!

But these family members are usually nominees – they sign a blank share transfer form and a blank director resignation form, which Taib takes and keeps in his safe or in the foreign bank’s safe deposit box. In this way Taib can make them resign whenever he likes and keeps ultimate ownership of the shares!

Income Stream 4

Lucrative monopoly over shipping licences meant Taibs could squeeze the Japanese shipping firms.

Achipelago Shipping- Using their control over the monopoly over timber export licences, handled by Onn Mahmud’s company Achipelago, the Mahmuds charged US$ 4.00 per cubic metre in kickbacks from the Japanese shipping companies.

Since 16 million cubic meters were exported most years, this was worth US$64 million a year (RM200,000,000).

Another insider has explained to us the system. The logs would be weighed going onto the ships and every ship’s tally would be recorded and sent to Onn Mahmud’s office manager in Hong Kong, who was Mr Shea Kin Kwok.

The Japanese shipping companies would pay the money into one of around six companies in Hong Kong. In 2007 the Japanese tax authorities fined a number of companies for undeclared tax on some of these payments to the Taibs.

Income Stream 5

Grandiose - one of Sakto's sister companies, Ridgeford, has a string of properties in London

Achipelago Shipping (2)- Agency fees from the shipping company. Achipelago had the monopoly of all documentation for shipping. One shipment would have to pay US$2,000 in agency fees plus other charges.

It would amount to US$10,000 (RM30,000) per ship per visit. All this of course just added to the cost to the buyers in Japan.

Onn Mahmud was only a nominee in this enterprise, we are told. Taib would give him 10%. The insiders say that Achipelago Shipping was the major ‘cash-cow’ for the Taibs. Onn had not wanted to take on the job of managing it at first, as he did not understand the potential, but in the end and it made the family billions in black money.

Income Stream 6

Development? What development?

Privatisation of Government Companies- Taib corporatizes and then privatises state assets, selling them off to public listed companies, which are in fact majority-owned by the Taib family and nominees. Sarawak’s largest company CMS was formed in this way, it is mainly owned by Taib’s family and the Chief Managers are his son Abu Bekir and son-in-law Alwee Alsree.

According to our insider, the method is to pretend the state asset is losing money and decide to sell it. Before privatisation money is poured into up-grading the facilities and then it is corporatized. Then finally, it is ‘privatised’. He will make an offer from eg CMS to buy it and the negotiations all go on behind closed doors, where he represents the State of Sarawak as Finance Minister.

Taib makes a big play at the closing stages of the negotiations, when there is a meeting to make the final decision. He excuses himself on the grounds that he has an interest and leaves the meeting to be chaired by Jabu or George Chan, who waves it through.

Income Stream 7

Logging or plain theft?

Illegal Logging in Indonesia- Hardwood Timber Sdn Bhd licences wood which has been illegally logged and brought over the border, according to the business associate.

“They levy handling fees in the border area. They charge RM17 per ton. There are many, many little companies doing this. A lot of jobless gangsters”.

It legitimises the theft from the Indonesians. Indonesia has complained in the past, but it is still going on.

Income Stream 8

Federal payments for infrastructure or just graft?

Federal Government Contracts- Nearly all the Federal Government projects in Sarawak are done by the Taib family companies. Roads, schools, hospitals – nearly all the projects that the Prime Minister is going around promising now as he tries to buy the election, will end up profiting the Taib family more than anyone else!

This is because the CM has the sole authority to endorse an application to pre-qualify to tender. In order to get a permit to tender for a project you need a supporting letter from the CM and generally only his family companies get them!

Adelaide Hilton is another Taib foreign property

Hardly anyone else gets a chance, says our business insider. Some Iban companies do get projects, because the Federal Government does not want to be seen to be giving them all to Taib, but he gets 70-80% of them!

Once the Taib company has received the Federal Contract it then sub-contracts the work for a nice profit and lets someone else do the work with a much smaller budget. This means there is a likelihood that it will be sub-standard and everyone else is squeezed.

Income Stream 9

The Alienation of State Land to Oil Palm Plantations – Our business leader informant tells us that Taib charges at least RM 1,000-1,500 per acre in kickbacks.
This amounts to at least RM20,000,000 for a 10,000 hectare plantation His chosen negotiator will explain this to the purchaser. The licensee has to pay the money outside of Sarawak into an off-shore account.

YB Ali Mahmud is just one of the family members to have done well out of land grabs.

Leaked records from the Land and Survey Department to Sarawak Report shows that around 1.4 million hectares has been handed out by land and survey for plantations. So if our informant is right this amounts to a very nice sum of money for Taib 1,500 X 1,400,000 is RM 2,100,000,000 or RM2.1 billion.

How it works is the person who wants land writes to the Land and Survey Department run by Taib. You pay the official premium to the Government, which is for example RM300-350 per acre, but on top of that it is the secret RM1,500 that you have to pay to Taib.

Now the prices are rocketing, Taib likes to complain to his business cronies that he regrets having sold so much off so quickly in the early years!

Income Stream 10

Borneo Convention Centre and just about any other State Contract you care to mention goes to Taib companies.

State Contracts- Taib has full control over these and at least 70% goes to his own family companies, bringing in hundreds of millions annually.

Recent eye-catching state projects that went to the Taibs have been the new DUN Parliament Building and the Borneo Convention Centre.

Our contact says this is by no means a complete list of the money-making opportunities the Chief Minister has enjoyed in Sarawak, but it goes some way to explain the enormous wealth visibly enjoyed by himself and by his family.

Plenty of questions to answer - staged interviews are not enough.

Once this wealth has been taken abroad and invested in property and other ventures there has been a whole new opportunity to multiply the wealth several times over.

Taib is known to have done very well investing in rocketing property markets in the US, Canada, UK and Australia. However, he is also believed to have lost money in poor investments such as the Icelandic banks!

River view. Taib's Sarawak home.

Not far down the road from Taib's house in Kuching.