The SALCRA Scandal – Stealing From Sarawak’s Poorest People

The SALCRA Scandal – Stealing From Sarawak’s Poorest People

31 Mar 2011

World's most incompetent company! - SALCRA HQ

Judging from his performance as Chairman of Salcra, it would be unwise to hire Deputy Chief Minister Alfred Jabu to run a fruit stall, let alone place the livelihoods of tens of thousands of families under his control.

The man has clearly squandered hundreds of millions of ringgit.  Yet, as he refuses to provide even the most basic standards of accountability, no one has a clue where all that money has gone ! 

All one can do under such circumstances is observe that Mr Jabu himself has an extremely large house and is noted for the consipicuous wealth of his family.  So, could it be that this most incompetent manager is nevertheless a highly competent thief?!

Meanwhile, the abiding shame and scandal of this BN Government is that those poor Native Customary Rights Landowners, whom they started driving into the SALCRA scheme more than 30 years ago on the pretext of rescuing them from poverty, are still scraping a living from the most miserable dividends that could possibly be imagined from the so-called business partnership run on their behalf by Mr Jabu.

Ripe for exploitation  

 
 

Luxurious interior of the Jabu home - where did the money come from?

You could not dream up a more exploitative system than the one devised by SALCRA (except of course Taib’s even more rapacious ‘Joint Venture Companies’, recently judged to be illegal and unconstitutional by the courts). 

Under the programme the state government offers NCR landowners formal title to their customary lands, but only if they agree to join in the SALCRA state-run palm oil plantations. 

This means they are forced to allow their land to be taken over and managed by Mr Jabu in return for their supposed ownership of it and a promised share of the proceeds.  What kind of land-ownership is that?

Why no public accountability?

The landowners are given no protection from the all-powerful Mr Jabu and his BN YB colleagues on the SALCRA Board under these arrangements.  Any Public Company where people can buy a few shares has by law to be rigorously audited with a publicly available Annual Report.  This is to protect members of the public, who are interested in investing.  Yet Jabu, although he is managing all the worldly wealth of the 20,000 thousand families who have been sucked into the SALCRA scheme, provides no public financial information at all!

What dividends there are are announced on a whim and at his own political convenience. 

Jabu has now acquired over 48,000 hectares of Native Customary Rights Lands within SALCRA (most of it planted with mature palms) and he has not provided a single audit or report detailing how any of it is being managed in all the past 35 years.  Needless to say the landowners themselves have no representation on the Board or within Management or any way of gaining any information whatsoever about the finances of the business in which they are supposed to be partners.

The dividend is a number Jabu just pulls out of the air!

New wing of Jabu's Kuching mansion - how does his Ministerial salary fund this?!

The landowners are forced to just wait and hope that their dividends will turn up at some stage in their bank accounts and that it will be sufficient for them to live on. 

Our enquiries have shown they are generally disappointed on both counts!  Numerous accounts exist of landowners who have received no dividends for years or otherwise pathetic pay outs that would not feed their families for a week.

Worse, Jabu habitually uses the dividend as a form of political blackmail, as if it was some kind of generous gesture or bribe on the part of a government that is in fact paying people peanuts from what is rightfully theirs.

Indeed, SALCRA members have been told to expect a ‘bumper payout’ from kind Mr Jabu over the next few days, timed nicely just before the election.  Perhaps they will also be threatened that only those who vote BN can expect to actually receive it?!  BN are, after all, specialists in blackmailing and bribing people with their own money.

100% of the profits ?  

 
 

Primitive as ever - poverty in the longhouses of Sarawak

Jabu has announced that this year he will be distributing what he says were a ‘record RM74 million’ in profits during the days before the election, saying that it is twice what he handed out last year.

So, what is this ‘bumper payout’ that Jabu has come up with?  After all, we know that the remit of SALCRA is for 100% of all the profits made under the scheme to be returned to the struggling landowners who have surrendered up their territories. 

From these basic figures it is possible to make a general if not a detailed judgement on Jabu’s performance as the man in charge of 48,000 hectares of palm plantations.  Sarawak Report has adopted the simple device of comparing his 100% profit figures with the over-all performance of the world’s largest commercial company IOI.  The difference is shocking – it emerges there could be no worse palm oil company in the world in which these people could have possibly invested.

Just one tenth the profit made by commercial plantations!

A RM 74 million ringgit profit on a 48,000 hectare palm plantation is quite simply pathetic.  And last year we are led to understand that the dividend was less than half that, we will say RM 35 million!

By comparison, just look at the figures provided by IOI in its 2010 Annual Report to see the sort of money that Mr Jabu should really have been earning and announcing in dividends.  IOI says that its operating profit last year amounted to RM 11,448 per hectare.  Yet if we look at Mr Jabu’s dividend of RM 74 million and divide that by the 48,000 hectares he is in charge of we arrive at a truly miserable profit of RM1,541 – one tenth of the commercial profit!

Even taking into account the various added costs of possible loans and other expenses that could diminish the operating profit the discrepancy between the two figures is ridiculous. 

Worse, the year before (when Jabu says he only announced half as much dividend) IOI actually managed to earn even more – a very healthy RM 13,347 per hectare.  Jabu however (given it was not an election year) could only apparently find RM 729 per hectare – far less than one tenth as much!! How is anyone supposed to feed his family off that?

The figures:

Commercial plantation earns RM 11,448 per hectare, Jabu’s SALCRA earns RM 1,541 per hectare[2009]

Commercial plantation earns RM 13,347 per hectare, Jabu’s SALCRA earns RM 729 per hectare [2008].

What a genuine commercial plantation expects to earn in profits per hectare - IOI's Annual Report 2010

 

From these figures we can also see that IOI declares that it extracts a yield of over 25 tons a hectare, whereas Jabu’s SALCRA has said it manages a mere 14-15 tons per year.  Why?

Time to sack the lousy Chairman and the rest of the Board?  

 

Deputy Chief Minister, Alfred Jabu - world's most incompetent businessman or world class cheat?

If this was a commercial outfit the shareholders would have long since called an Emergency General Meeting and demanded the immediate dismissal of such an abysmal performer as Mr Jabu! 

However, instead Taib has kept on his deputy, who has enjoyed years of luxury in return for keeping the Ibans of his area on the side of BN.  As a result those Ibans, who should have done well from their profitable crop, have suffered excruciating hardship, while BN politicians lectrue them on being patient as they wait for ‘development’.

But what are they waiting for?  Why is it that Mr Jabu only manages to make RM 1,500 per hectare, when IOI can make 11,448 per hectare?  Or, more to the point, what has happened to all those millions and millions of ringgit of missing money? 

We are talking about a missing RM 10,000 every year for every hectare of SALCRA plantation land.  This money would make all the difference to the lives of the poor NCR land owners, many of whom own just one or two hectares.

With a proper management of SALCRA these people could have been living comfortable lives with reasonable returns for the last 30 years, enjoying an income of upwards of 10-20,000 ringgit per year, instead of a miserable few hundred – or Jabu’s ‘bumper’ election handout this year of RM1,500!  So, why should they be patient?

What happened to the missing RM 500 million?

So, there is just one question for Jabu to answer – Is he the worst manager in the world or has he stolen the money? 

According to the IOI figures, Jabu has fallen short on half a billion ringgit of proceeds this year alone (48,000 X 11,500 – 74,000,000).  Last year it was even worse.  Therefore, unless and until Jabu is prepared to make the SALCRA figures public, he deserves to be condemned on both fronts.  We will assume, along with the rest of Sarawak, that he has both run SALCRA appallingly badly and that he has stolen a heck of a lot of the money! 

Sack him!

The victims of this pernicious corruption, the poor NCR landowners, may not have been given the normal rights and protections of ordinary shareholders in public companies by the corrupted Taib Mahmud.  However,  many of them do have votes.  It is for this reason that Jabu has been doing the rounds of the longhouses in his constituency over the past week, handing each family RM 500 to buy their votes! (his son has also been going around handing out crates of beer, presumably to dull their senses).

These people should bear in mind that Mr Jabu in fact owes them at least tens times as much in honest earnings that he has witheld from their SALCRA proceeds for this year alone.  They should see all that money and then times it by 30 before they even contemplate putting this man back in charge of their lives for another 5 years.  They should not allow beer and a few ringgit to stop them taking the next obvious step….

because at this election they can sack Jabu after all!  

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