At a time when people are struggling to cope with the rising electricity costs, Sarawak Report has established that the Chief Minister thieves electricity to keep down his own bills !
This astonishing information came to us from senior insiders, who are in a good position to know what is happening in Taib’s household. We have subsequently obtained corroborative evidence from the chief technician in charge of maintenance at his grand residence at Demak Jaya.
What we have learnt is that the Chief Minister has deliberately installed a secret, subterranian electricity cable, which by-passes the meter outside his house. The cable links the mains directly to the line entering the house. This means that while some of the supply still travels through the meter at least half of it does not, thereby slashing Taib’s electricity bill!
How mean is greed?
Given the legendary wealth of Taib Mahmud, the idea that he should go to these lengths to avoid such a relatively small outlay as the monthly electricity bill seems staggering.
But, as Taib has pointed out himself, he is not used to paying out money or even bothering to have it on his person. All his family deals are funded by others in return for his political patronage. Since the Taibs expect to take, not give, it must make regular bills like the rest of us pay seem something of an outrageous imposition!
However, we should bear in mind that Taib has already compensated for the annoyance of having to pay for electricity. There was plenty of comment some years back when the State Parliament voted through a handsome annual allowance to assist in the Chief Minister’s electricity bills, presumably on the understanding that he has to do so much entertaining in his huge house.
By contrast, Sarawak Report is mindful of the many people throughout Sarawak who suffer from the harsh policy of the State-owned Sesco electricity monopoly, which is to ruthlessly cut off those people who cannot afford to pay the escalating costs being charged.
The policy is particularly galling for those displaced families who were moved into ‘resettlement’ areas to make way for hydro-electric dams. Part of the incentive that people from both Batang Ai and Bakun dam areas were given to move was that they would get free electricity as part of their compensation. However, both communities are now being asked to pay the full price for their electricity and many are regularly cut off by Sesco, because they can’t afford it.
The Chairman of the Board of Directors of Sesco, coincidentally, just happens to be Taib’s own superbly wealthy cousin, Hamid Sepawi. The son of the Deputy Chief Minister, Alfred Jabu, is also on the Board. Sepawi and the Jabus have been given so many jobs and concessions by the Chief Minister that there is certainly no need for them to worry about such basic bills. And, while he is stern to his poorest customers, Sepawi is clearly lenient to his wealthy relative, since the fraud that his cousin indulges in is fairly easy to detect !
What the technical manager confirmed
In order to confirm the almost unbelievable information we had received about such petty pilfering, we thought we should seek corroboration from the man who was reportedly in charge of installing the by-pass system.
This was the head technician in charge of Taib’s estate at Demak Jaya, Jong Ka Chin. We were told that Jong had also helped out Taib’s sister next door, Raziah Mahmud, who had heard about the device and wanted one too! Raziah is also fabulously rich, but clearly does not see why she should pay the same bills as everyone else.
So we decided that it was time to request if he could do a similar favour for Taib’s older son Abu Bekir. After all Abu Bekir has just settled his wife’s divorce claim of RM 400 million, so he must be looking for ways to save some money! We called the technical head, Jong Ka Chin, on his personal mobile in the guise of Abu Bekir’s secretary to ask him to come and discuss the matter with the Datuk:
“I am calling from the office of Abu Bekir ..it is about the electricity bypass that he wants to instal for his house tomorrow …
Yes, yes …
You can do it right?
Yes, yes … I know
You know what it is right?
At Demak Jaya …[location of Chief Minister's house]
Ah … can you come to the office at Titanium Management tomorrow?
What time? What time?
10:30am … you know where it is right?
10:30am yeah, Datuk wants to see me?
Yes, yes, Datuk Seri wants to see you …It’s about the electricity cable bypass system … to be installed in his house …
The house at Demak?
Datuk Seri wants to instal the electricity bypass cable system in his house. The same one done in Pehin Sri’s house.
I am at the house here, now …
Demak, Demak….Tomorrow I go to the office or to Demak?
Go to his office first; meet with Datuk Sri first at his office at Titanium Management.
He wants you to advise him on the electricity cable bypass system … you know what it is right?
The same one that was done at the house of Pehin Sri …
Yes, the same.
The same as the one you had done before?
Yes … so tomorrow I go to the office to see you …
Ah … go to the Titanium Management office to meet Datuk Seri ..ok, thank you. God night.
Yes, yes, good night.
From this call it was clear that Mr Jong was actually working on site at Demark Jaya at the time we were calling and he acknowledged several times that he had fitted an electricity by-pass system for the Pehin Sri’s (Taib’s) house.
When we put the story past a senior Sesco operative about the scam. His observation was “so you know about that do you?!” Sesco has recently been criticised for hiring a swathe of highly-paid foreign managers. The new Norwegian Chief Executive Officer, Torstein Dale Sjotveit, is paid RM 4 million per annum and receives 10 return air tickets home on top each year. Under him are 20 other foreign engineers, who are also paid way over the normal Sarawak salary levels.
YB Chong from Kuching DAP recently also complained to parliament about the huge charges being demanded from customes for the installing of obligatory new meters.
Customers are being asked to pay RM 650 for the fixing of the so-called up-dated meters and people who can’t pay the extra on their bills are being cut off!
However, the even more damning complaint against Sesco by the majority of the people of Sarawak is that in Malaysia’s richest state 80% of the people of the interior have yet to be connected to any form of electricity at all!
On behalf of Mr Jong, Sarawak Report confirms that when we rang back to gain further details of his work on the by-pass he told us that he had since spoken to Abu Bekir’s office and ascertained that Taib’s son is not in actually in Kuching or wanting work done. He then also denied that he had installed a by-pass after all. Perhaps Taib Mahmud would like to clarify the situation and confirm or deny the very well-sourced information that we have received?
As an addendum to this article we wish to express our concern over the sacking yesterday of a well-regarded staff member at the Borneo Post. The firing was carried out in accordance with a directive that had come straight from the officer of the Chief Minister The reason, we have learnt, was that the staff member, who is a proof-reader, had made an understandable error that was seen to have undermined the Chief Minister’s belated attempts to get ahead in what BN are describing as the ‘Cyber-war’.
The Borneo Post had devised an article designed to promote one of the Chief Minister’s dozens of new sponsored websites. Its name is almost identical to the name of this website, Sarawak Report, however it contains an extra letter! The poor proof reader read the copy and assumed that a mistake had been made and altered the naming of the website to the far better-known www.sarawakreport.org, which is of course this website’s address!
As a result the carefully placed Borneo Post article ended up promoting us, instead of promoting the Chief Minister’s new ‘cyber-weapon’, which exploits our name! This clearly did not go down well!
We wish to say, however, that we deplore such treatment of a loyal employee, who like most of us, relies on his salary. Why should a professional be fired for failing to be sufficiently quick-footed at such dirty tricks that the Chief Minister has been attempting to play? It is surely high time that Sarawak caught up with the rest of the world with rules to protect people with fair employment rules, so that high-handed dictators like Taib do not think they can just fire decent ordinary people like this in moments of anger and bad behaviour.
Don’t forget you can’t sack everybody, Taib Mahmud….. but they can sack you in just 3 weeks time!