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The Thief Of Sarawak Has No Right To Talk of Rights

Sarawak Governor Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud today urged Sarawakians to support the state government’s efforts to reclaim their rights enshrined in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).

He said he believed that a delegation led by Chief Minister Datuk Abang Johari Openg will continue to take the interests and the development of the state into account in the negotiation to reclaim the rights from Putrajaya.

“The negotiation for the return of the rights, which have been eroded, needs to be carried out with the federal government through a correct channel,” he said at the opening of the Sarawak Legislative Assembly’s session here….

On the enforcement of Oil Mining Ordinance 1958 and Gas Distribution Ordinance 2016, the governor said it will help to further boost the state’s revenue for the benefit of the people.

He said the state government has taken a bold step to introduce a 5 per cent sales tax on the export of petroleum and petroleum products, which is expected to generate about RM3.8 billion revenue this year.

Our comment

No greater ‘erosion of rights’ of Sarawakians has taken place than the crooked Petroleum Act of 1974 negotiated by this Chief Thief of Sarawak (as federal minister for energy at the time) and his own uncle, then chief minister.

This illegal act (the pair never put it before the Sarawak State Assembly to be ratified) removed state control over its maritime oil and gas, providing for only a meagre 5% of revenues to Sarawak.

Now Taib is trying to present this 5% tax as some kind of grand achievement after billions have been lost to the state.

In fact, as Sarawak Report exposed, Taib was seeking just before the last election to use the weakness of Najib Razak to claw back the oil wealth he had given away, but primarily for himself.  Najib agreed that future contracts should go through a Sarawak state entity called Petros.

And guess whom Taib placed as the ‘joint venture’ company for the first Petros deal?  None other than his own family concern South Sea Energy, fronted by others but secretly run by himself and his son (as reported by their bank in Oman).

Taib and his crew have for years ruthlessly exploited Sarawakians’ understandable desire to be rid of the corrupt governance that has been allowed and exploited in the worst colonial manner by West Malaysia.

However, this multi-billionaire Chief Thief of Sarawak has been the embodiment of that exploitation and control, the self-serving catspaw of the federal entities who eroded Sarawak’s autonomy. Therefore, any settlement that includes his continuing control of the country can only mean greater peril for the people of Sarawak.

What is needed is reform and the rule of law – then a new state government can start discussing matters on an even footing with their partners in the federation.

Pesky 'Squatters'

Tradewinds Plantation Bhd has expressed its deep regrets over the arson incident on April 23, which affected its Sungai Tersak estate in Simunjan.

The company believes that such irresponsible and dangerous act was made in retaliation for the dismantling by Tradewinds of a makeshift crossing to access an intended plantation road.

This illegal crossing was set up by unknown individuals.

It is said that many parties have alleged that the land lots on the estate belong to the locals, and not to Tradewinds.

Nevertheless, this allegation of ownership has been dismissed by the Court of Appeal and is found to have no merit, says the company.

“The unlawful act of erecting the said illegal makeshift crossing has caused losses to Tradewinds, and (the crossing) is used to provide unlawful access for the purpose of theft of FFB (oil palm’s fresh fruit bunches) and to compromise the state of security in the estate.

“Only authorised Tradewinds personnel are allowed into the estate,” said the group in a press statement released yesterday, stressing that Tradewinds is the lawful owner of the estate and that there are no Native Customary Rights (NCR) land there.

Our comment

Taib’s sneering wealthy cousins were filmed expressing their disdain for the dispossessed native people of Sarawak, whom they dismissed as ‘squatters’.

The wealthy shareholders and directors of Tradewinds appear equally sanctimonious about their rights to take land from people who have lived there for thousands of years.  They got those super-trustworthy Appeal Court judges appointed by Najib to find in their favour after all.

Yet time and again native customary rights enshrined by the original constitution have been trampled on and dismissed by a state government that has sought to limit the legal meaning of those rights to snatch land and timber – usually selling concessions first through cronies and then on to major outfits like Tradewinds.

So, we suggest that if Tradewinds are so confident of their rights to this land and all the other pieces of territory that they have acquired all over Sarawak this company should step up and produce the chain of ownership for all of their leases, right back to the moment that they were alienated by the corrupt government of Taib Mahmud.

The details on those land grabs (conducted by the Land Custody and Development Corporation set up and controlled for decades by Taib Mahmud) were disgracefully kept secret. However, Sarawak Report has obtained several of those land records and guess what?

Tradewinds ended up as the eventual owners of at least one of the most disgraceful and corrupted secret landgrabs by Taib family members on record.  Nearly a thousand hectares of land in Sungai Retus was secretly sold to a newly minted company named Masretus for a nominal sum of half a million ringgit (if that was even paid) in Februaly 2009.

The owner just happened to be Taib’s own brother Ibrahim.

And guess what happened next?  Within just 6 weeks of that sale this Taib family member sold the whole lot on to Tradewinds for a whopping RM7.2 million.

None of the native people in the area had even been informed about alienation of the land or sale. However, doubtless Tradewinds directors are very happy to pompously opine about the legal right they have to all these lands also.

To hell with honesty, transparency and justice.

Goldman Sachs Deserves To Lose Its Licence

The US Justice Department is calling for Goldman Sachs to plead guilty for its role in the massive corruption scandal involving Malaysian investment fund 1MDB, The Financial Times reported.

That recommendation applies to any settlement between Goldman Sachs and US or state authorities, newspaper reported, citing unnamed sources.

It would be the toughest penalty the Justice Department could impose, as it potentially could affect the financial giant’s licence and ability to conduct business.

According to a source close to the investigation, the hard line recommendations by investigators is not surprising, but the final settlement is likely to be less onerous.

US authorities have accused a Malaysian financial intermediary, Low Taek Jho, former Goldman partner Tim Leissner and former Goldman banker, Ng Chong Hwa, of conspiring to launder billions of dollars from 1 Malaysia Development Berhad…

Leissner pleaded guilty, while Jho Low and Ng Chong Hwa deny the allegations.

Goldman Sachs has tried to distance itself from its two former employees.

Asked about the guilty plea recommendation, a bank spokesman told AFP, “We do not believe that such a charge would be warranted by the facts of the case or the law, particularly because senior management was unware of the criminal activity by Leissner and his associate who took extraordinary efforts to hide their part in the illegal scheme from management, compliance, and legal functions at the firm.”

Our comment

For months Goldman Sachs has stuck to the tried and tested tactic of piling the blame on a fall-guy underling, in this case Tim Leissner, the former Southeast Asia boss who has already pleaded guilty to multiple crimes relating to 1MDB.

Malaysia was having none of it and AG Tommy Thomas has already issued criminal charges against the international arm of the bank in London and its Singapore subsidiaries.

Now, it is clear that the DOJ investigators are in agreement and in no mind to let this controversial bank off the hook, despite its lengendary ‘teflon qualities’ when it comes to making scandals stick.

After all, before initiating the dodgy $6.5 billion worth of loans at the heart of the 1MDB scandal, the former CEO of Goldman Sachs sat down with both Najib and Jho Low (who was already blacklisted as a top laundering threat by the compliance section of the bank) in a New York hotel to discuss initiating closer relations between the two parties.

Goldman proceeded to become the Malaysian government’s top lender and 1MDB brought in the biggest bonuses ever seen for the bank’s top players.

Under such circumstances there can be no excuse for these experienced operators to have simply failed to notice the dodgy stuff, when all the details were available for its enquiries.

Yet it was left to the tiny outsider Sarawak Report to blow the whistle way back in July 2013, calling for regulators to investigate, after we obtained a copy of the offer note for just one of these dodgy bonds and spied the outrageous and unusual terms.

If only partially informed observers like this small blog were able to spot the problem and to have dared to call it out, there is no excuse whatsoever for Goldman’s top brass to have ignored the red signals, plus our complaints, plus the growing evidence of malfeasance at 1MDB (whilst holding on to their pocketed millions in bonuses), which they did not for just weeks or months, but for YEARS, right up until Najib was booted out of office.

Goldman were not fooled, but they did make a rare miscalculation.  The bank thought, like all the ‘experts’, that Najib would win GE14. In which case the scandal and the part they played could well have been buried by strong arm tactics in Malaysia.

What they misjudged was the level of righteous fury against corruption in Malaysia, so they got caught.  And they ought not get away with it any more than others presently in the dock.

The DOJ ought to fine the bank billions and put its licence on the block.

Cost Of Real Fake News In Stolen Cash

Najib Razak had instructed and paid for a news portal to be set up to provide alternative news and combat fake news, a witness told the Kuala Lumpur High Court today.

The 16th witness at Najib’s SRC International trial, Onn Hafiz, 41, said his company Vital Spire ran MalaysianDigest.com on the former prime minister’s instructions.

The Johor Umno politician and great-grandson of Onn Jaafar added that the now-defunct news portal covered international and local news, as well as business, entertainment and sports on a daily basis.

“We wanted to give a balanced news for the general public, and combat fake news,” he said.

Onn said he received a cheque of RM240,000 from Najib on January 30, 2015 made to Vital Spire. He added that the cheque was cashed at the CIMB branch in Bukit Damansara, where his company is located.

“It was set up on the direction of Najib. I met him in PM’s office.”

Our comment

These conspirators stole money from a public pension fund and used it to disseminate propaganda through a portal that then blatantly lied about it.

We vehemently deny the utterly preposterous allegation made in the blog [that accused Malaysian Digest of being funded by the Prime Minister’s Department] and will offer no further comment,” was what the portal’s editor had said back in 2013.

And yet these same folk claim it was they who were countering ‘Fake News” from outfits like Sarawak Report, which was calling out the blatant corruption involved.

Sarawak Report can impart one valuable lesson to unfortunate members of the public who have to try to determine the truth from lies from these competing sources, which is that actual Fake News costs a fortune (Najib was paying out tens of millions in stolen cash to support his myriad phony operations) whereas the pure voice of truth, like nature, comes almost free.

Throughout this period Sarawak Report was sustained by small donations amounting to far less than RM5,000 a month that paid for its internet costs and the dissemination of emails to those who signed up for our content after the site was banned.

Other tell-tale signs are facts.  Genuine reporting seeks verification through demonstrable supporting evidence, whereas Fake News mongers tend to rely on stirring up emotion and prejudice and making claims, which they leave unproven.

Hadi No Longer Denies Receiving UMNO Money?

On Thursday, Anwar had said the revelation about the RM90 million needs time as it is still under MACC probe.

“The answer from MACC was that there was no 1MDB money channeled to PAS. The allegation was not about money from 1MDB, but from Umno, which is still under investigation.

“I have specific information on the numbers and who received the money, I have seen the accounts. But I will not reveal now. Give it some time, the issue is not closed yet,” he said.

Commenting on this, Abdul Hadi, who is also MP for Marang, challenged Anwar to reveal the source of political funding which had previously been rumoured to come from overseas.

He said PAS also has information on other political leaders who allegedly received outside funding in big amounts.

“We ourselves also have information about other leaders receiving foreign funding in large numbers. That is more wrong.

“So, the government should not only be investigating us. They should also investigate the others, then only it is fair,” he said.

Our comment

A fortnight ago the MACC put in papers to the AG’s office as they wrapped up their investigation into money received by PAS from UMNO.

In official speak that means they recommended more than one set of charges.

Meanwhile, a distinct change of tone has emerged from PAS leader Hadi Awang, in response to Anwar’s claim he has seen some of the evidence naming individuals who received dosh.

Gone are the furious denials that led to this party leader seeking to sue Sarawak Report, even though we never suggested his or any other name. In fact, it seems that Hadi is no longer denying the matter at all.

Instead, he has started whining about everyone else taking money as well, claiming other parties are also culpable.  He is moaning why all the blame and investigation is centering on PAS?

Maybe it is because PAS and their ‘holier than thou’ denials drew most attention to themselves?

Hadi is starting to sound like the thief. who caught red-handed starts to bleat that others are secretly thieving also, so why should he be blamed?

As a teacher of morals Hadi should be able to come up with plenty of answers to that question.

Najib Lawyer Relies On Fictitious Claim On Sarawak Report!

Lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, who is putting emphasis on the conversation transcript between fugitive businessperson Low Taek Jho and Ambank in defence of former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak in his SRC International Sdn Bhd trial, suggested that there would be “trouble” if the prosecution is unable to produce the document.

Speaking to journalists after the fourth day of the trial at the Kuala Lumpur court complex today, Shafee said the transcript was a vital piece of evidence for the defence team.

“It is a very important matter. If they (the prosecution) are trying to hide it, then it would be the end of them. They cannot hide it as it has been raised everywhere including by The Wall Street Journal and Sarawak Report.

“If it has gone missing, there would be big trouble,” he told journalists.

The prosecution has accused Shafee’s team of going on a “fishing expedition” but the defence team argued that it was up to the court to determine the relevance of the transcript after it was produced.

Our comment

For years, Najib’s lawyer has claimed that everything written by Sarawak Report has been lies and ‘false news’, not to be given credence by anybody.

Najib used these grounds to ban the site.

Now however, we have the self-same lawyer relying on a false claim that Sarawak Report had access to emails by Jho Low to do with discussions with AmBank, claiming that if the prosecution cannot produce such emails there will be “trouble”.

Shafee has made this claim a number of times, so Sarawak Report must make clear we have never had access to the particular emails he is referring to, which appear to be linked to a story by the Wall Street Journal. Any reference by Sarawak Report to this particular matter relating to Jho Low’s communications with AmBank staff would have been secondary reporting, referencing the Wall Street Journal.

Meanwhile, we find it ironic that after years of vilifying SR as a liar, forger and paid agent of Najib’s opponents, his lawyers are now relying on a bogus claim about something we never wrote to attempt to get their client off the hook.

Najib Victim Of Jho Low's Conspiracy?

Lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah alleged today that his client Datuk Seri Najib Razak was a victim of fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho’s conspiracy.

“We know our client is innocent because our client is a victim. I dare tell you that he is a victim of conspiracy of Jho Low and gang,” he told the press at the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex here, referring to Najib.

“So give him a chance. You have to prove that he is part of Jho Low’s conspiracy,” he added, directing the remark to the prosecution.

Earlier today, during Najib’s corruption trial over RM42 million of ex-1MDB unit SRC International Sdn Bhd’s funds at the High Court, Najib’s lawyers had sought for communication records between Low and AmBank officer Joanna Yu Ging Ping that were seized by Bank Negara Malaysia investigators.

Our comment

A Finance Minister is supposed to manage the nation’s finances through official channels and institutions, yet Najib lied continuously when he claimed this unofficial advisor (Jho Low) had nothing to do with 1MDB following the setting up of the fund after May 2009.

Pictures exist of Jho Low together with the fund’s first ‘joint venture’ partners from PetroSaudi and Najib at the time that project was launched in September 2009.

Copious further evidence shows that Jho Low was secretly involved every step of the way over each and every detail managing that ‘joint venture’ and also all 1MDB’s later activities until the moment he was exposed by Sarawak Report in 2015 and immediately fled Malaysia.

So Najib claims he is a victim, but he was also a serial liar over the role of Jho Low, whom he so belatedly alleges he was duped by. Why?

For a victim this man, who was also Prime Minister, was nothing if not powerful. So, likewise, the moment he realised the money entering his accounts was from SRC (back in Juuly 2015) he ought to have issued a Red Notice for Jho Low and launched a wholescale investigation admitting a horrendous error.

Instead, he allowed Jho Low to go off to China and negotiate a hundred percent inflation of the cost of the East Coast Rail link (at enormous further cost on top) …. in order to hide repayments of the missing 1MDB money. Again, why?

And why did he continue to act with bad faith after all the facts and figures were exposed by the FBI and many other international investigators in 2016, as he refused to acknowledge what he is now forced to admit (following election defeat) namely wrongdoing at 1MDB?

Najib denied right up till the election that there had been misappropriation from 1MDB, that Jho Low was involved or that money had been misdirected into his own accounts. Given 1MDB smelt to high heaven and the world was investigating it, this simply won’t wash under the category of being “duped”.

The ultimate irony is that Najib’s present defence is essentially that he was an incredibly stupid and unenquiring man, of the sort who ought never to have been put in charge of RM10 of someone else’s money let alone the country’s entire wealth.  And yet day after day Malaysians are con-currently being treated to his endless supercilious lecturing about various other aspects of the economy, which he claims he could be running better than his successors.

If your best defence is that you are an idiot, who paid not the slightest attention to glaring evidence of misappropriation linked to your own accounts and failed to probe missing billions acquired by you when alerted to wrong-doing at 1MDB, then it is best not to try and create the opposite impression at the very same time by constantly posing as a top economist and money manager on every other topic under the sun.

Shameless Or Deluded?

Former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak today took aim at the renegotiated East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) deal, in particular the China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) forming a joint venture with Malaysia Rail Link (MRL) for operations and maintenance.

“The suggestion for the Chinese side to be involved in the management of the ECRL is not reasonable, because this is a form of domestic transportation in our country.

“Malaysian citizens have the capability to handle the entire railway system, and that is why we have trained our workers before this,” he said.

Najib was speaking to reporters outside the Kuala Lumpur High Court after attending today’s proceedings in relation to the SRC International Sdn Bhd corruption trial.

One of the key points in the renegotiated deal is that CCCC forming a joint venture with MRL to operate and maintain the ECRL. The joint venture also means that the Beijing-owned company will bear 50 percent of the risk should the project run into trouble.

‘National security risk’

Najib said this stipulation could affect national security, because “national secrets would be made known to outsiders.”

Our comment

Najib’s successor has just negotiated a RM21 billion REDUCTION for a bettered and extended version of the project that this charged kleptocrat locked Malaysia into in order to hide his alleged thefts from 1MDB – a matter that is currently the subject of some 38 criminal charges, which are costing the country a fortune to put to trial as Najib won’t admit to any of them.

Najib is not only refusing to admit to his ‘imperfections’ as prime minister, he is taking full advantage of his continuing freedom and the indulgence of a reforming government to accuse all those who have had to clear up his own economic mess of themselves being ‘failures’ at this and that.

So, perhaps no surprise he has even had the brass neck to accuse them of failing over this major improvement of a dud deal he had signed up to under a $5 billion penalty clause, preventing this government from getting out of it.

Sarawak Report suggests that Najib’s enormous legal team (a mystery in itself since this ex-PM argued he had no money to pay his generous bail offer) ought to consider an entirely new defence…. that of their client being a self-delusional, barking-mad fantasist.

At least, under that plea, this pampered failure could hope to be placed in an asylum for the mentally unbalanced, to be kept in relative comfort (compared to the prison that his alleged crimes would normally make him eligible for life) and be allowed the space and time to rant on about his imagined grand successes and the failures of the poor team of folk, who have had to rally together to make good his disastrous term of office.

Lying And Envy Over Wealth Are OK With PAS?

PAS central committee member Nik Mohamad Abduh Nik Abdul Aziz said he wanted to protect his integrity as a member of the party committee, which led him to lie about a voice recording allegedly proving that the Islamist party had accepted funds from its former political rival, Umno.

Nik Abduh said his initial denial to being one of the voices featured in the incriminating clip was akin to a minister having to lie about secret issues discussed in cabinet meetings.

He later admitted to being the person heard in the audio clip.

“It’s not a matter of lying or not, but of wanting to protect the integrity of a member (of the PAS central committee).

“It’s the same with a government officer in a cabinet meeting. A journalist finds out, asks the minister. Of course, the minister is not going to answer (the truth),” he told The Malaysian Insight in an exclusive interview recently.

Nik Abduh reasoned that in such situations, a minister would likely feign ignorance “because it is still a secret, doesn’t need to be made public”.

“So is the act of keeping it a secret wrong? It’s not,” said the Bachok lawmaker.

Nik Abduh said while Islam forbids lying, there were exceptions to the rule.

“There is room in Islam to lie. It’s the same with envy which is a sin, but it’s not any more if our sense of envy towards the rich becomes a motivation for us to become rich.” ….

While initially affected by the attacks following the audio recording expose, Nik Abduh said he is intent on soldiering on.

“It’s easy for me when I know that those are lies, and so I’m not afraid. If we concede defeat, we will lose…

Nik Abduh said the party is now focused on ensuring that its grassroots are clear on the direction of the leadership, adding that PAS members have been reminded to channel their anger for Umno to Pakatan Harapan.

“Our advice to the people is, when you feel angry towards Umno, change it to PH.

Our comment

One has to hope, given these confessions, that Nik Abduh gave chapter and verse to the MACC on the details of those secret money transfers he was referring to in that recorded meeting.

After all, he referred to at least 10 instances of UMNO handing money over to PAS and in terms of millions of ringgit.  He now admits he then lied about it to help PAS president Hadi Awang, as he sought to sue Sarawak Report out of house and home for alerting Malaysians to that very matter.

That’s OK, Nik Abduh tells us, because lying is fine if it is in the right cause (his party’s and his own).

However, what is clear is whether or not Nik Abduh considers it a sin under his own interesting interpretation of his respected religion, it remains an earthly crime under present Malaysian law for one political party to secretly fund another, whilst deceptively pretending to voters they are in opposition, for the purpose of self-gratification, namely retaining/obtaining political power.

There is another issue, which relates to whether PAS declared the money and from where did UMNO get the money?  Sarawak Report has information about at least three occasions where hefty sums of cash were lugged in bags from one party to representatives of the other. Where did the cash come from and exactly where did it all go?

Sarawak Report will not seek to comment on this politician’s strange and unusual interpretations of his religion and moral code, as one assumes that there are higher authorities within the faith he claims to belong to that can pass judgement on his excuses about lying and harbouring envious thoughts.

However, the earthly issues need addressing under the penal code and this party’s political supporters ought not to be treated like blind monkeys, expected to accept every convenient excuse and twist and turn of their leadership, as and when they get found out.