According to the Borneo Post, Taib and his BN party have made a belated attempt to curry favour with the voters of Pulau Bruit by promising plans for investment! It was just a week ago that we exposed how the Chief Minister and his family have made millions of ringgit out of robbing his fellow Melanau people of their Native Customary Lands on the island, so this must be their attempt to limit the damage!
In our investigation we revealed how the Chief Minister used his control of land distribution and licences to hand palm oil concessions over half the island to his two brothers for a very cheap price. Just 12 days after they were awarded the concession by the government (thanks to Taib) they sold on the concessions for a RM 40 million profit!
Even worse, we later exposed how the Chief Minister then handed out the other half of the island to a company, Delta Padi, in which he himself has a big shareholding! He and his brothers continue to have big shareholdings in the profitable companies which are now covering the island in oil palm and causing big problems to the natives by cutting down their trees and killing the local fish with pollution. And to ensure his own family gets even more money out of the project Taib has also been pouring big government grants into his own company to grow rice!
So, now that his theft and greed has been exposed, Taib is coming to the islanders to promise them investment. Is is not rather late for that? In an acknowledgement of their scandalous treatment in the transactions which happened six years ago, the Borneo Post details the islanders’ poverty.
“The people of Pulau Bruit are living in dire stratights” explains the paper. “They are categorised in the hardcore poor group and they have to continue working hard and find ways to bring home earnings. Fishermen can only sail out to the sea for four months in a year and earn around RM350 per month whilst farmers who rely on paddy planting get around RM300 per month”.
Yet, as we exposed so clearly, the Taib family are meanwhile enjoying the millions in profit they made from grabbing these people’s land and selling it. Why did the locals get nothing at the time and why has nothing been offered to them before this day when the theft has been exposed?
If the Taib family cared anything about their fellow Melanau they would have shared some of their RM 40 million profit and all the extra money they have gained and compensated them for the loss of their lands and livelihoods. Better still, they would have left their beautiful island intact and helped them improve their traditional way of life.
But, of course, they did nothing of the sort until they were found out! Even now the Chief Minister is only making “plans” to help. And those “plans” only consist in getting government investment in projects. How much out of that investment in projects do you think will help the lives of the natives and how much will go to make companies owned by the Taib family even richer?
Taib could help if he cared – he is rich enough!
If Taib cared about the natives he would use some of his OWN family money now to help them get generators and fresh water supplies. At least some of his multi-billionnaire fortune has been gained by exploiting the people of Pulau Bruit, so why not gift some back? In fact, just the other day Taib was recorded boasting that “I have more money than I could ever spend“. So Sarawak Report suggests that one way he could spend some of it would be in repaying the poor people of Pulau Bruit whom he robbed and who now have to live in such poverty? Did any of these ideas occur to him when he piously went on his Haj last month? Dream on, he cares no more for his fellow Muslims than for the other natives he cheats and mistreats in Sarawak!
Always told to “wait”
Instead, the government-controlled Borneo Post explains that, as usual, the locals have been told to “be patient”. As usual, they are being asked “to wait” for basic amenities and development. Since they have so far been waiting 30 years under Taibs government, what is a few more years to them? A local headman told the newspaper that the impoverished people’s priority was for clean water supply but:
“they understood that the government could only provide the supply only by 2012. Mean time, they relied on rain water for drinking, washing, sanitation and carrying out other chores”.
Likewise, the Borneo Post explains, the only good tar road on the island is the 7 to 8 kilometre road from Kampung Bruit to Kampung Tekajong and a quarter of the population has to find a living outside of the island these days.
All Sarawakians should of course by now be wary of talk of “planned projects” at pre-election time, since experience confirms that pre-election “plans” eventually disappear until the next election period, at which point they are brought out and discussed again. So Taib is actually not offering much to try and win back the votes in Pulau Bruit is he? He must think they are so poor they must be stupid! After all, what worth are promises from a proven thief?
Stages of development
The Borneo Post article again promotes that very old Taib excuse “be patient, because development will come in stages”. So, Sarawak Report would like to evaluate these stages from the evidence we have looked at.
- Stage one, Taib takes your native land and gives it to himself and his family.
- Stage two, Taib sells the land on for a massive profit of millions of ringgit to a big towkey who offers him shares in his company so he can continue to profit.
- Stage Three, the company strips your land of its timber and destroys your food sources.
- Stage Four, the company plants palm and pollutes your water, killing the fish.
- Then Stage Five, a “development and infrastruction programme” is announced. Let us look at Stage Five, because it sounds like at last there may be some help or compensation from the government.
Pulau Bruit has now reached Stage Five with the announcement of RM 400 million to be spent on improving the lives of the locals! Now what does Taib’s record suggest that he will do with that huge sum of money, which he will control? Surely, after 30 years of his government people now know it will not be spent on benefiting them?
The first thing to consider is, if ever such money were to be allocated, then to which brother or sister or child or cousin of Taib will he offer the contract this time? The next thing to consider is how much of the money will be left after the job has been immediately ‘sub-contracted’ to a real construction company? Will the Taibs take a 50% cut? a 75% cut or more?
Finally, after the construction company then gets to work how much will be spent locally after all the further bribes and thefts? In the end something will be built in the area (if the money is ever allocated) but it is unlikely any of it will benefit the natives. Maybe we might see the construction of a road from the palm oil mill to the port? Or a new office for the palm oil company ? or perhaps homes and water purification plants for imported Indonesian workers?
Save yourselves before it is too late!
Honest government and compensation in the courts is what the people of Pulau Bruit really need and deserve – they would do better to trust the leader of PKR, the native land rights lawyer Baru Bian, who has been supporting their case and that of hundreds of other cheated communities across Sarawak, than the monster thief Abdul Taib Mahmud.