The people of Baram have been sold down their own river by their native MP, the Federal Deputy Trade & Industry Minister Jacob Sagan!
Sarawak Report has received exclusive information, indicating that the local man’s support for Taib’s plans to flood his own area has been bought by two large timber concessions, allowing him to log Belian wood!
The shocking betrayal explains why Sagan, who is himself a Kenyah, born in Long Anap on the banks of the Baram River, is refusing to prevent Taib’s plans to build yet another dam in the region.
The proposed Baram Dam would flood about 400 square kilometres of forest lands and displace around 20,000 indigenous people from Sagan’s own community, including his home village of Long Anap. Altogether, 26 Kenyah, Kayan and Penan villages will be drowned under water.
Secret Belian concessions for Taib cronies!
Local people have been at a loss to understand Sagan’s support for the project, which would destroy one of Borneo’s most precious remaining rainforest regions and the livelihoods of its people.
There is no further need for electricity in Sarawak, so the dam has been condemned as unnecessary.
However, secret Forestry Department Maps have now been made available to Sarawak Report, which give one very persuasive reason.
The maps show that Sagan has been handed two hugely valuable Belian timber concessions right within his own region!
Standard timber concessions rarely include Belian, which is an endangered species and extremely valuable.
Under normal licences the loggers are supposed to leave such special conservation species standing and it is subject to a total export ban.
However, rumours have persisted that special concessions for Belian timber have been given out to Taib’s political cronies to buy their support.
Our maps show that there is indeed a network of these Belian concessions in the Baram area, which still has stretches of virgin forest and it names the companies and the licence numbers.
Winjac Sdn Bhd and Milisha Holdings Sdn Bhd
Two of these concessions are placed right in the middle of Jacob Sagan’s own Baram constituency area and cover an impressive area amounting to some 15 square kilometres. The companies owning the concessions are named Winjac Sdn Bhd and Milisha Holdings Sdn Bh.
Wider maps show that these two concessions are situated right in the middle of the Baram region, near the Indonesian border and not far from Jacob Sagan’s birthplace of Long Anap.
While, Sagan has travelled far and enjoyed a good life, thanks to becoming an ultra-loyal supporter of Taib, most of his relatives still live in this area.
The value of these concessions run into millions of ringgit, according to experts in the business. Belian is an endangered species and takes hundreds of years to grow into the mature ‘iron wood’ , for which it is famous.
The wood can sell at up to RM6,000 a ton, which is a sign of its growing scarcity, caused by the greed of the timber companies who have invaded Sarawak’s forests.
So, who is getting these favoured concessions worth such wealth and what are they paying for them?
Indeed, under normal uncorrupted practices Belian would be banned from being logged altogether, just as it is supposedly banned from being exported.
Also, under normal uncorrupted practices, any licence that was given out would be tendered, so that the licence would go to the highest bidder and the money for the licence could then be used by the government to improve the lives of local people.
Timber licence money would be one way to pay for schools, roads, electricity, water pumps and better health care and allowances. However, the people of Baram remain poor and with few such services.
So, who has these concessions and what did they pay?
It turns out the shareholders of the company Milisha Holdings Sdn Bhd are none other than local MP and Government Minister, Jacob Sagan and his wife Winnie Jolly!
Did Jacob Sagan tell his voters?
This demands an explanation from Taib Mahmud and Jacob Sagan, preferably to the forces of law and order. Because, to secretly hand an MP of your own political party a large and valuable timber concession is a scandalous conflict of interest.
People in public office should not get involved in any form of business involving state concessions, for obvious reasons, and any business interests should be openly declared.
But, there is no evidence that Sagan has publicly declared this timber licence BT/9107, granted to his company Milisha Holdings. Nor is there any evidence that he has declared licence BT/1962, which he also holds through his wife and daughter’s ownership of Winjac Sdn Bhd.
Perhaps we will learn how many of Jacob Sagan’s constituents were aware that Jacob Sagan has been handed two Belian concessions worth millions of ringgit, thanks to Taib’s Planning and Resources Ministry.
With what did Sagan pay for this concession?
Next, it is important to discover how much did Jacob Sagan pay for this secretive concession that has been granted to him in the land belonging to his own voters by the BN government of Taib Mahmud?
Such a valuable concession, worth millions of ringgit, should have cost a very great deal in premium payments to the statute.
However, on his salary as an MP of RM12,000 a month how could he afford this?
His previous career as a Sarawak civil servant could not legitimately have made him a rich man either!
At the moment, because Taib keeps all his timber negotiations a scandalous secret, we have no information about how much Sagan paid, if anything.
As a result, we are left with the inevitable conclusion that Sagan has paid for these concessions with the one thing that he has that is of value to Taib Mahmud, which is his political support.
So, if Taib has decided that he can make himself wealthier by flooding the people of Baram and using the electricity to power factories owned by himself, then BN MPs like Jacob Sagan have no choice but to support him.
It is plain that Jacob Sagan’s loyalty has been bought by Belian.
Because he has been bought by Belian, Jacob Sagan can no longer fight for what is right for his people.
So, even if Taib decides to flood their lands, destroy their livings and move all his relatives to resettlement towns with minimal compensation, Jacob Sagan has to keep supporting Taib.
If not, Jacob and his wife and family would lose their Belian concessions and have to live on their actual income of RM12,000 a month.
That might sound a very good salary for most people, but BN MPs have got used to living like kings, because they have sold their duty towards their people in return for licences to plunder them.