Talkback

Our comment

It is the same Karim Hamza who acknowledged and defended the great wealth of his boss Taib Mahmud on Radio Free Sarawak back in 2010.

His argument was that it would not be ‘fair’ for politicians not to be able to use their positions to ‘do some business’ given all their alleged self-sacrifices in taking on the burden of government.

Why should politicians have to watch businessmen flying around in their private jets, argued Hamza (then political secretary to Taib) and not be allowed to enjoy the same luxuries and perks?

Well, the answer is that the people have voted for a different way of doing things. They want honest politicians who are willing to serve their people in return for the legitimate salary they are being offered.

If the likes of Taib Mahmud and all the flunkeys in Sarawak don’t like the new rules brought in by the new democratically elected government, they are perfectly entitled to hand over their positions and not declare their assets.  People in Sarawak would be ecstatic to have the chance of a modest and honest employee in their place.

Of course, giving up the reins of power might expose these filthy rich politicians to the sort of scrutiny they have fought so hard and long to avoid. So, no one should expect them to do so willingly!

Ultimate Sell Out - Faced With Bankruptsy Sarawak's Kleptocrats Are Following Najib's Surrender To Chinese Economic Imperialism

Sarawak is looking forward to having more mutual collaborations and partnerships with China, especially on leveraging the state’s digital economy initiatives.

In pointing this out, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg sees China as beyond being ‘the factory of the world’ in that it is now on the forefront of new economic and disruptive innovations based on technologies.

He says he has made several trips to China since becoming chief minister in 2017, to learn many things about the meteoric rise of that country to become a world’s economic power, particularly in digital economy.

“We are confident that with their (China’s) support and cooperation, Sarawak would be able to realise the transformation of its economy through digital initiatives……

Our comment

Selling out to foreign loan sharks is the last dirty trait of kleptocrats. It is what they do when they have finally stripped their own larder bare. Remember, Malaysia’s finance minister has warned of Sarawak’s parlous financial state.  Meanwhile, GPS has set about throwing all the money left on desperate vote buying before the state election.

That is why Abang Johari is humbly running to and fro from China.

Let’s be clear, China is not interested in Sarawak because of ‘digital initiatives’ or any other such nonsense, it is interested in Sarawak’s lush land mass (space for it own bursting population) its rich resources and strategic possibilities.

That is the way of most super-powers and it is the job of the Sarawak leadership to defend their people’s interests and not sell out to tempting ‘investments’ backed by ‘soft loans’, which leave the state with a mound debt, whilst (of course) putting plenty of money in the individual pockets of the decision makers themselves to retire on.

China has employed this loan-shark model of economic imperialism throughout Africa and Asia  –  the present basket case is Sri Lanka, which has been reduced to warring chaos as the once independent country struggles to shake off vast debts and military bases imposed by China thanks to the easy seduction of decision makers who betrayed their people.

Sarawak’s state government has already wasted most of its natural riches thanks to the orgy of recent decades, which have left the family of Taib Mahmud and some mafia-style loggers very rich but the state coffers on the brink of exhaustion. And, in the same way that Najib was willing to accept a Chinese bail out it seems Sarawak’s leaders are willing now to do the same and allow the Chinese state ‘investors’ to move in with their ‘projects’.

The long term price will be the same. A debt stranglehold by the loan-shark super-power from which this little minnow of a country will have little chance to escape. The Abang Johari’s of this world and his venal team of Najib-admirers will not care, because they will get enough payment to retire comfortably in return for selling out their responsibilities.

Sarawak has been ditched before like this. Now is time to take control.

Dangerous Development For Taib Family

The Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs (KPDNHEP) is currently investigating whether CMS Cement Sdn Bhd (CMS) has met the license requirements issued and obtained prior permission to increase cement prices.

Its minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail (pix) said it had sent a notice to obtain information on the significant difference in the company’s cement prices and that of other industrial players.

This comes following the high cement price issue in Sarawak where CMS holds a monopoly in cement production in the state.

KPDNHEP in a media statement yesterday also said the ministry found that there were several price changes done by CMS in 2011, 2014 and 2016.

Based on data supplied by the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) and analysis by the Malaysian Competition Commission (MyCC), there is a price difference of about 57% for 50kg bags and 40% for bulk cement between Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia

Our comment

This investigation into the Taib family monopoly over cement through CMS, a former state company that was swiftly ‘privatised’ into their hands, is a dangerous development for the present Governor.

His manipulation and control over this core building material is not only emblematic but connected to his entire plunder and mismanagement of the state.  Not only did he grab the monopoly, but he used it to squeeze Sarawakians into paying nearly 70% more in some cases than they needed to.

The state has been scarred by controversial and destructive mega-dams built out of billions of ringgit worth of the inflated product, providing a major incentive for Taib’s decisions to construct them in the first place.  The other incentive was the opportunity plunder great swathes of jungle, through concessions given (naturally) in large part to his children.

Start digging into CMS Minister Nasution and you will find yourself reaching into a very extensive web of rent seeking, patronage, self-serving contracts, ever-increasing acquistions of state assets at ludicrously advantageous prices and all the rest. The phenomenon known as gross kleptocracy is encapsulated in CMS and the network of associated concerns owned by Taibs and assorted cronies.

CMS has been handed just about every lucrative contract going in the State of Sarawak and anyone who thinks that the economic grip of the Taib family might have lessened under the administrations of his successors as chief minister need only look at how jobs are still being handed out.

Just this week the massive CMS contract to maintain the majority of roads in the state was again extended. As the Borneo Post put it, ‘Business As Usual’.

Malaysians will recall that share prices at CMS fell off a cliff in the days following the election, as people assumed that the advent of a reforming government must inevitably result in the rapid investigation of Taib and this tainted company.

However, as the weeks went by and the old kleptocrat was regarded as having ‘reached a deal’ with the new administration, confidence returned. Let’s see what this new announcement does to the share price going forward and let’s see how it affects all the other Taib controlled businesses, up till now guaranteed all the plum contracts in the gift of the state government.

Who needs Najib when you already have Taib Mahmud willing to work with any KL government that allows him to continue accumulating wealth, whilst showering enough dedak at the state’s YBs and MPs to keep them fawning and obedient?

Let the investigations begin.

"We don’t want our timber industry to suffer the same fate as our palm oil industry"

Sarawak must comply with international policies involving sustainable forest management to enable its timber products to penetrate the international market, Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg said.

He said environmental organisations could have a major influence on the purchase of timber products.

“If you don’t comply with international policies, then people would boycott your products and we don’t want our timber industry to suffer the same fate as our palm oil industry,” he said at the Sarawak Timber and Small and Medium Entrepreneurs (SMEs) expo here today.

He said the export of timber and timber products is the fourth largest contributor to the state’s export earnings after liquified natural gas (LNG), petroleum and palm oil.

Our comment

Pray what “fate” would that be, Chief Minister?

It would appear that Abang Johari allowed himself a telling slilp of the tongue yesterday by publicly acknowledging that Sarawak’s Palm Oil industry has “befallen a fate” that he would not wish on the timber industry as well, as a result of negligent or unsustainable practices.

Indeed.  And the admission that Sarawak’s palm oil industry has befallen a fate amply backs up the recent prediction by Malaysia’s finance minister that the state government’s finances are in serious trouble, a projection that Abang Johari has hotly denied.

So, what are the present statistics with regard to Sarawak’s palm oil fate?  Sarawak Report reported just earlier this week that a report by a global consultancy on timber and plantations categorised Sarawak’s ill managed palm plantations as being uncompetitive in a tough market with state revenues in “steep decline”.

The people are entitled to know the outcome of the state government’s plantation experiments across millions of hectares of logged out land over the past decades, so it’s time to produce the figures relating this this “fate” instead of denying there is a problem.

As for convincing the world that Sarawak has been applying sustainable timber practices, sadly this ambition is way way too late for the bunch of pluderers in charge of the present state government. Sarawak and its timber companies have the worst record in the world when it comes to greedy, unsustainable, destructive and deeply unethical and corrupt logging, not just in Sarawak but in unfortunate regions across the world.

Anyone who hands them a sustainable forest management badge would end up a laughing stock, like Abang Jo.

'Eyeing Sarawak's Resources' - Who Has Actually Taken The Wealth?

Those wanting to take control of Sarawak are not from Sarawak, and Sarawakians must realise that only Sarawakians can take care of Sarawak – not these outsiders.

“They are envious of Sarawak’s resources and wealth, and are surely eyeing control of the state to the point of saying negative things about the Sarawak government, including that we are mismanaging the funds and reserves that we currently have,” he added.

The chief minister stressed that the state risked losing its wealth and resources if it were to fall into the hands of outsiders, who will ‘come and go’ as they please as they do not have a sense of belonging to the state.

Thus, he hoped that Sarawakians will remain united as unity is Sarawak’s greatest strength for development…..

 

The dinner, which was hosted by Sarawak Malay Cultural Foundation Charitable Trust (AKYBMS), saw the presence of deputy chief ministers Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan and Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah, Minister in the Chief Minister’s Office (Integrity and Ombudsman) Datuk Talib Zulpilip, Assistant Minister of E-Commerce Datuk Mohd Naroden Majais, Assistant Minister of Agriculture Dr Abdul Rahman Ismail, Assistant Minister of Law, State-Federal Relations and Project Monitoring Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali, Assistant Minister of Urban Planning, Land Administration and Environment Datu Len Talif Salleh, and Assistant Minister of Women, Family and Childhood Development Rosey Yunus, among others.

Our comment

How telling that the Sarawak Chief Minister, surrounded by all of the Governor’s henchmen still in office, should start to complain about nameless ‘outsiders’ ‘eying the wealth’ of the state.

This is because his listeners at this lavish dinner have for the past decades treated the resources of Sarawak exactly as if they owned them, helping themselves.  They therefore live in permanent fear of others pointing out they are not entitled to their stolen wealth and in response to criticism accuse their critics of being after the money instead.

Fact is, few Sarawakians have benefitted from the mass resource extraction from the state or the mega-contracts using borrowed public money.  However, nearly all those cited as among the ‘great and the good’ at this dinner party have been the beneficiaries of large (in some cases vast) concessions and contracts in return for their roles in the inner circle of the Taib family kleptocracy in Sarawak.

The Note We Spent Was Stolen But The Note We Kept Is Clean!

The money Umno received from 1MDB has all been used up, and the funds currently forfeited by the Malaysian Anti-Commission Corruption should be returned as it is “clean party funds”, claims Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan.

The Umno deputy president said that he was referring to funds belonging to national-level Umno and not state Umno liaisons and divisions. All of them were listed in the Government’s civil forfeiture suit to reclaim RM270mil in 1MDB funds from 41 parties and entities.

 “I am speaking about the national party’s account. As for the other accounts of Umno divisions named in the list, the ones in charge of those would have to make their own arguments. I am speaking as the head of the national party,” said Tok Mat.

“The money that MACC froze in our accounts are not the funds which the national Umno received from 1MDB. That money (from 1MDB) has long been utilised.

Our comment

If you were explaining to a six year old why you removed his pocket money to pay back a friend he stole from, you might expect to get this sort of argument.

Hearing it from an adult, who pretends to be qualified to run a country beggars belief.

However, this fellow and his sort have joined up with a bunch of self-appointed moralists who proclaim the same kind of logic. PAS think they can ‘claim apologies‘ because the money they and various members received from UMNO does not feature directly on a particular list.

They appear to want people to believe that if the money they took from UMNO did not come through this particular 1MDB account used by Najib in the 2013 elections but came secretly from a separate source as Najib later sought to play dirty in the next elections, then it ought to be regarded as ‘clean’.

As any adult can tell such arguers are neither fit to preach nor govern.

'Surprised & Shocked'?!

A witness told the High Court today that Datuk Seri Najib Razak was genuinely “shocked” and upset after finding out someone had transferred RM42 million into his personal accounts through Ihsan Perdana Sdn Bhd (IPSB) between 2014 and 2015.

During cross-examination by Najib’s lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, IPSB managing director Datuk Dr Shamsul Anwar Sulaiman said he had visited Najib at the latter’s private residence on Jalan Langgak Duta shortly after being released from Malaysia Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) custody in 2015.

According to Dr Shamsul, he explained that the only reason he had met with Najib after he was released from custody was to update the former prime minister on his arrest and wellbeing.

Shafee: When you went to see Datuk Seri Najib and told him your story, what was his reaction?

Dr Shamsul: He was shocked about somebody putting money into his account.

Shafee: He (Najib) didn’t know why?

Dr Shamsul: He said he didn’t know who put money in his account and why it was through (IPSB’s bank account) me.

Shafee: Could you describe the situation then?

Dr Shamsul: He wasT very upset. Without his knowledge, somebody putting money through another company. I didn’t discuss further.

Our comment

This will not be the first time that the former prime minister has confused the rest of us.

After all, what would anyone else do in such a situation besides going straight to the police back then in 2015 to explain how awful it was to discover they had been spending tens of millions in stolen public money on holidays and bribes and jewellery and all the rest?

However, what Najib actually did was shut down the police, MACC and Bank Negara investigations and then sack the Attorney General who had drawn up the charges resulting from Dr Shamsul’s testimony.

He then proceeded to tell the world there was “no wrongdoing” at 1MDB (of which SRC was a key subsidiary) and that no money had been stolen etc etc etc. He claimed Jho Low had had nothing to do with the management of 1MDB for years and that they were not in communications.

He also banned this website, which had alerted the public in the first place and triggered the very investigations, which produced the evidence that he was apparently ‘shocked’ to find out about.  Not only that he issued charges of fake news, plus activities detrimental to parliamentary democracy and a terrorism Red Notice Alert against this editor.

How strange is that if he was so “genuinely shocked” to learn that he had been receiving and spending stolen money?

Nothing to be ashamed of, of course, since all other people who are conned lose money instead of making millions.

Hadi's Son In Law Admits Group In PAS Took Dedak

PAS’ Zaharudin Muhammad, a figure who has been linked to the infamous recording featuring the party’s central committee member Nik Abduh Nik Aziz talking about receiving money from Umno, has lashed out against a group he dubs the “dedak cartel”.

Dedak, or animal feed, is a Malay term for bribes made famous by Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

In Zaharudin’s case, the cartel refers to those who received funds from Umno or those linked to Umno….

The audio clip in question was widely circulated early last year, and ostensibly depicts a person talking about Umno’s funding of PAS.

In the recording, an individual can be heard admitting that PAS leaders, including himself, late spiritual leader Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, and even party president Abdul Hadi Awang had received funds from Umno.

The person also says that PAS received RM2 million from Umno with the knowledge of its top leaders to defeat DAP in the 2016 Sarawak state election…..

In a series of Facebook posts which began yesterday, Zaharudin, who is the son-in-law of PAS president Hadi, .. claimed he was defending himself from accusations that he was the one who recorded Nik Abduh’s remarks and leaked it.

He said if he was the source for the recording, he would have revealed even more details, such as claims that the recording was misused to appease those who were unhappy with corrupt PAS leaders.

“[…] the recording was played to prove that the act of taking dedak was done by the top leadership – when it actually was not, and I will show proof that the act of taking dedak was not condoned by top leaders,” Zaharudin said in one post….

“What I revealed was the secrets of the dedak cartel,” he said.

Our comment

So, PAS President Hadi’s son-in-law, Zaharudin Mohammad, is now admitting the one thing that Sarawak Report initially reported about this matter, which was that it was widely suspected that money was flowing from UMNO into upper echelons of PAS.

These are party officials, whom Zaharudin described yesterday in his Facebook post as a powerful ‘cartel’ of  ‘dedak eaters’ (bribe takers) as opposed to ordinary members who might take money for votes (as Hadi tried to allege was the meaning of the famous recording in his court submissions).

And yet despite this knowledge and admission by his own son-in-law, the PAS President, backed by advisors who included the people Zaharudin is now effectively accusing, decided to sue Sarawak Report on the basis of a cooked up deceit.

First Hadi claimed that everyone assumed Sarawak Report must have been referring to him personally in its article, because he was so dominant in his party – even though Zaharudin now claims it was others beneath Hadi who were taking the money.

Then Hadi backed by his party continued to sue Sarawak Report for months, despite now admitting they knew people in the party were taking UMNO’s money and that the party had fallen in line with UMNO.

Just a couple of weeks ago, Najib admitted on the hustings that Hadi would visit him secretly at night before the election to plot joint policies together. At the same time Hadi’s lawyers were issuing sworn signed statements on behalf of their client to the UK court saying that PAS was still wholeheartedly in opposition to UMNO and critical of Najib and that it was therefore a libel to claim otherwise or that money had been involved in the change of political direction of the party.

Hadi and his son in law are therefore denying they personally received money, whilst finally admitting their party and a circle of important members did.  So, in effect they are admitting perjury and the bringing of false accusations against Sarawak Report in the London court.

These people even lied about the settlement they paid to extract themselves belatedly from the case when they realised that SR was not prepared to be bowed and bullied and was prepared to stand up to them in that self-same court armed with the evidence they could not deny.

Hadi and his super-expensive UK law firm ought to hold their heads in shame over this disgraceful and deceitful abuse of British libel law.

British journalists need better protection from decietful foreign litigants like Hadi and UK law firms who readily charge huge fees to bring such dubious cases.

Taibs Seek To Lecture Others On Ethics

The Sarawak governor’s office has reiterated that the MACC has exonerated Abdul Taib Mahmud from any wrongdoing, in the wake of the latter being linked by an environmental activist group to an allegedly illegal land-clearing operation just outside Mulu National Park.

Taib’s press secretary Jameson Ahip Nawie pointed to a July 3, 2018 press conference held by MACC chief commissioner Mohd Shukri Abdull in relation to 15 separate investigations opened into the Sarawak governor.

The top graftbuster had said there was no case against Taib, due to lack of evidence regarding his involvement in the decision-making process.

In a statement to Malaysiakini today, Jameson said the position of the Sarawak governor “is an apolitical appointment, which should be above politics or public debate”.

“The current Governor of Sarawak, His Excellency Abdul Taib Mahmud was first appointed on March 1, 2014 for a four-year term. His term was renewed for another four-year term in February 2018.

“It is unethical, to say the least, that Abdul Taib is still being linked to the so-called dubious projects in Sarawak.

Our comment

If Governor Taib Mahmud seeks to offer lessons in ethics he should start by providing full transparency on the myriad concessions and contracts issued during his period of office, nearly all of which ended up in the hands of his own family, proxies and crony companies.

His aid complains that as Governor he is above all decisions, so cannot be blamed for what has happened regarding the on-going Mulu land scandal. However, the fact is that at the time the various concessions were handed out and native rights were railroaded Taib was chief minister, finance minister, planning and development minister, chair of the Land Custody and Development Authority and in charge of the Land & Survey Department.

The concessions and special conditions were given to his son (for free) and the railroading was done by his son’s company before the shares were passed to a third party which immediately commenced bulldozing.

If Taib seeks to contest those facts, fair enough. However, if he does not the ethical failures lie in what happened not in the public interest reporting of this scandal.