The Federal MP for Hulu Rejang, Bakun says that he “wants to keep serving his people” for another 5th term. However, his rival Wilson Ugat, who is the political secretary to their PRS party chief, BN’s James Masing, says he “wants a turn”.
We ask whether these men are squabbling for the chance to help their people or to grab more wealth and resources from Bakun and elsewhere?
After all, during the 22 years that Billy Abit Joo has held his seat 10,000 of his constituents have been driven from their lands to make way for the Bakun Dam. He supported this project, but what benefit have the people received from the logging and flooding of their lands?
It is now a decade since they were pushed from their homes, yet most of these refugees have yet to receive more than a fraction of the compensation they were promised.
They have now even been told they have to pay for their replacement homes out of the compensation money, which they have yet to fully receive, putting them supposedly ‘in debt’ to the state!
So, what happened to BN’s original promises of free new homes, free water and electricity, new jobs and of course handsome compensation on top?
And what happened to the billions of ringgit that were made out of the logging of these lands by Ekran, a company owned by Taib crony Ting Pek Kiing and Taib’s own sons?
We have to ask, in 22 years what use has Billy Abit Joo been in getting just compensation for his constituents in these matters?
Wargana Consortium Sdn Bhd
Wargana Consortium Sdn Bhd is an enterprise that perfectly spells out the difference between what Billy Abit Joo promises and what he actually does. It shows how, while he promises to enrich his people, he is actually working to enrich himself and key supporters.
Wargana Consortium was announced back in 2010 as a cooperative enterprise. Taib side-kick and sub-Minister for Planning and Resources, Awang Tenggah, called it:
“a company formed by the people themselves” [Borneo Post].
Billy Abit Joo then described a RM 9.8million contract awarded by Sarawak Hydro to clear 60,000 tons of dangerous debris in the Bakun Dam area as some kind of shared venture:
“The local people hold 50 per cent of the share and the other 50 belongs to Wargana Consortium Sdn Bhd”, he claimed. [Borneo Post again]
Billy also said that local people would get the opportunity to work on the venture and provide their own boats to the project to help clear up the waters.
These statements gave the clear impression that the project was offering work and also that a 50% share of the profit from the RM9.8million contract would go in dividends to the local people.
If this were really the case you might praise a local MP for arranging such help for his people.However, the promises over the Wargana Consortium have turned out to be as thin as those over compensation for Bakun.
Firstly, our researches show that there is no shared venture. The whole debris-clearing project was awarded to Wargana Consortium Sdn Bhd alone, according to Sarawak Hydro’s own web announcement. There is no record at all of 50% of the share going to local people!
As one local resident of the resettlement area of Sungai Asap explains, “The contract is totally controlled by Wargana. They have hired around 20 local workers, that is all”.
So, who owns Wargana Consortium? Is it that there has there been some confusion and that Wargana itself is 50% owned by the local people?
If this was the case then the local people should all be registered as shareholders in the company and they should be expecting to receive not only jobs in the clearing project, but also a 50% share of the company profits.
True ownership of Wargana Consortium
Sadly, this is far from the case. In a disgraceful conflict of interest, Wargana Consortium is in fact controlled by none other than than the local MP, our familiar friend Billy Abit Joo!
His three fellow Directors are the businessman David Wong, Alice Sia (who is the daughter of a BN crony businessman) and Nyipa Batok, who is a former BN State Assemblyman. Nyipa Batok just happens to also be the father in law of Billy’s PRS leader, James Masing. As we have previously exposed, Nyipa’s daughter, Masing’s wife, Corinne Nyipa Masing is also the shareholder of numerous companies that have also received huge state contracts and timber concessions!
So, if these political types are in charge of this publicly funded project, who do we think are the shareholders of the company?
Well it turns out that these four Directors are the main shareholders of just under two thirds of the enterprise, through two of the three companies that make up Wargana Consortium, which are Wargana Management Sdn Bhd and Sinaran Bakun Sdn Bhd.
So, what about the supposed 50% share that is meant to be going to the ‘local people’? Well, it simply isn’t true. Instead, we have discovered that a very typical BN style of profit sharing has been underway!
It turns out that the remaining third of Wargana Consortium has been handed to a supposedly ‘public’ company called Sinaran Bakun (M) Bhd. This is a very unusual public company, because it has only issued 26 shares and they are certainly not being traded on the stock exchange.
And who has been given those shares? The lucky list of shareholders are none other than 24 key local headmen in the Sungai Asap longhouses. These are the people whom BN pay to be the ‘representatives’ of their people – the people who will be hoping to ‘advise’ their longhouse folk on whom they should vote for at the coming election!
It should be noted that Billy and Nyipa Batok are also in this list of shareholders too and they have twice as many shares as the others! And guess who are the Directors of this company, Sinaran Bakun (M) Bhd? The same key three people who manage Wargana Consortium and the two other shareholder companies, of course! Billy Abit Joo, Nyipa Batok and businessman David Wong!
No money for the people
Since these three men are in control of the Consortium itself and are the main Directors of the three shareholding companies, as well as being the owners of by far the greatest number of shares, then it is these three men who are in a position to determine the size of the profits, the expenditures of the company, the pay for Directors and everything else for this “company owned by the people themselves”.
“We knew the headmen had been given a sort of representative share for each of the longhouses” explained the Sungai Asap resident. “But it was never explained how any of the money would come down to us and it hasn’t!”
So we ask what did Billy Abit Joo and ex-assemblyman Nyipa Batok mean by claiming that 50% of the profits would come to the local people? And why did Awang Tenggah claim that the consortium was “formed by the people themselves”?
Finally, how did these politicians come to be in possession of such a large number of shares in this consortium, which has been corruptly handed such a large contract by Sarawak Hydro, in what is a clear conflict of interest?
Meanwhile, we have discovered a great deal about the reality of this major debris clearing contract and the situation regarding those profits, which were supposed to go to the local people.
Our enquiries show that so far not only have the local people to see a single ringgit, but the headmen shareholders have not received money either.
We have been told that there have been arguments over the failure of Wargana Consortium to provide the promised dividends between the managers and the company and the headmen.
We can reveal that the outcome of this situation has caused a major scandal, provoking illegal logging and a dangerous situation whereby millions of ringgit of public money have been paid out to clear debris, which has ended up being hidden rather than being burnt!
According to our inside sources, Wargana company bosses placated the angry headmen, who were demanding their dividends, by signalling that they would turn a blind eye to logging in the Bakun reservoir area, which is meant to be managed and controlled by the consortium. As our source explained:
“The company is supposed to deal with debris within a 15kilometer radius of the dam. However, they are allowing some of the headmen to bring in workers from Bintulu, who are then logging on the hillsides beyond that radius. Only a few of the headmen have got involved, but they have made a lot of money. The illegal loggers take the timber to Samling, the nearby concession holders, who have paid them a great deal for this valuable hill top wood!”
Just last year this scandal of illegal logging was publicly condemned by none other than Awang Tenggah.
Yet we can now show that the whole scandal was promoted and condoned by the company belonging to Tenggah’s own political colleague, the local MP, Billy Abit Joo!
In typical BN style they have corrupted the local leaders to control the anger and rebellion from the longhouses.
Waste of public money and danger to the people!
But neither, it turns out, has Wargana Consortium been doing the job it is supposed to do. Most of the work is sub-contracted to small outfits, according to our informants from the area.
“Wargana Consortium was supposed to build an incinerator to burn this wood, but they have not. So they are just allowing other small outfits to deal with the wood and again they are turning a blind eye. Those small contractors have just been hiding the wood in secret places around the lake!”, confided one local person who has provided us with photographs of some of those hidden mounds of debris
So, this is the job that the Directors of Wargana Consortium, led by the local MP Billy Abit Joo, have carried out in return for all that public money!
They have allowed the logs to be hidden round the Bakun lake, instead of building an incinerator and they have turned a blind eye to illegal logging to avoid paying the local people their rightful share of the profits!
Sarawak Report rests its case when it says that the story of Wargana Consortium sums up perfectly the difference between what BN politician practice and what BN politicians preach!
They know what is right, however they do what is wrong and it is their constituents that suffer!
But this is not the only activity that involves Wargana Consortium Sdn Bhd.
Timber contracts too!
It turns out that Wargana Corporation has been going far longer than the debris-clearance contract and the supposed profit sharing venture with the people in Billy Abit Joo’s constituency.
Wargana Consortium was set up in 2005 and has a huge swathe of timber concessions as well! According to our copy of the Forestry Department’s maps, thousands of hectares have been given over to the company controlled by MP Billy Abit Joo and his fellow BN crony shareholders.
Yet there is no evidence that any of the local people of Sungai Asap were aware of this asset or that they have received any of the profits from their shareholding.
Now that they can see how much their MP Billy Abit Joo and his cronies are making from logging, perhaps the people of Bakun can understand why he and James Masing’s father in law, Nyipa Batok, have been telling them to keep on voting BN and to be patient about the destruction of their lands !
They can perhaps now realise how Taib has been bribing a few BN political leaders the at the expense of the rest of the people of Sarawak!
The people of Bakun might conclude that they should, therefore, replace the long-term liar and plunderer Billy Abit Joo with his PRS rival Wilson Ugat, who is the close supporter of their party boss, James Masing.
However, we should remind readers of our other recent expose, showing how Wilson Ugat and James Masing conspired together with Sri Aman Assemblyman Mong Dagang to make RM 70 million in kickbacks out of NCR land which they had confiscated for plantations!
We have published the letter signed by Mong asking for the money to be paid into a company which is owned by Masing’s brother, Mong’s wife and Wilson Ugat’s wife, Leyta Kupa! [see the story]
So what advantage is there to voting for another corrupted PRS member of BN, who promises one thing, but does quite another?