Who Really Is Sarawak's Wealthiest MP?

Who Really Is Sarawak's Wealthiest MP?

Back in 2018 a Sarawak certain newspapers announced that the now leader of Sarawak PKR, Larry Sng, was the state’s ‘Richest MP’.

This was based on his wealth declaration, which a law passed by the Harapan government demands of every MP, and he indeed boasted impressive assets totalling RM11.78 million.

However, despite the law being passed over two years ago and a deadline issued for last December, a shocking 62 MPs had failed to comply.  All of them were from the defeated BN government and therefore form part of the PN Coup Coalition which seized power in March (including 36 from Umno, 18 from PAS and 3 from GPS).

Among these, perhaps not surprisingly, was the fabulously wealthy Hanifah Taib, daughter of Sarawak’s multi-billionaire Governor and former ‘Thief Minister’ of the state. Just after the December 5th deadline passed journalists asked Hanifah if she had yet declared her assets, but she swept past them imperiously uttering “no comment”!

Of course, when one has the sort of assets that have been parked on ‘businesswoman’ Hanifah it clearly takes some counting. This may be her excuse and super-wealthy heiresses like her are used to assuming that laws are for ‘little people’ to abide by, not them.

On the other hand, Hanifah has a major problem, since were she to declare her assets she would first be forced to reveal them and then to explain them.

She might have hoped that ‘PM8′ after betraying his own government would drop the requirement (clearly a large chunk of his new political allies are desperate for that to happen). However, Muyhiddin is sensitive over the corrupted reputation of so many in PN’s ranks, given they were thrown out by the electorate primarily because they had for decades abused political power to line their pockets.

He therefore announced he would enforce the ruling.

Nonetheless, pressured to reward his rag tag bunch of competing rebels and political parties, he proceeded to appoint the Grand Dame Hanifah to the plum post of Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (although she has barely sat in Parliament two years).

And,  when it emerged at the end of last week that five minister’s in Muhyiddin’s bloated cabinet have still to declare those pesky assets there were no prizes for guessing that Hanifah would be one of them.

Let’s take USD400 million as a base point

So, since Hanifah is refusing to be accountable on these matters or to apparently obey the law, onlookers are entitled to calculate as best they can.

Sarawak Report has passed documents to the Bruno Manser Fund in Switzerland, who have in turn also conducted copious research into what appears to be the richest family in Malaysia and one of the richest in the world.

Based on available evidence alone (think how much more is hidden in undeclared off-shore companies) the Bruno Manser Fund’s most recent assessment of the family’s public wealth in 2018 calculated that Hanifah herself is worth over $US400 million:

According to the evidence gathered by BMF, Taib had distributed his largesse among his family members: Taib’s elder son, Mahmud Abu Bekir Taib, a major player in the Sarawak construction, property and energy business, has been rated at US$1.5 billion; Taib’s daughter Jamilah Taib Murray (US$1 billion); Taib’s brother Tufail Mahmud (US$600 million); sister Raziah Mahmud (US$500 million); daughter Hanifah (US$400 million) and son Sulaiman (US$300 million). Timber conglomerate Ta Ann founder and Sarawak Energy chairman, Hamed Sepawi is rated at US$175 million. [Sun Daily]

And a development just this week has acted as a handy reminder as to just how this family has managed to accumulate such staggering wealth, whilst at the same time the majority of people in resource rich Sarawak remain dirt poor and struggle without basic amenities like clean water, schools, roads and hospitals.

The above mentioned Hamed Sepawi is, of course, a cousin of Taib’s and a longstanding business proxy for the Governor cum ‘CEO of Sarawak’. Hamed has fronted numerous firms for Taib including the hugely successful construction company Naim Cendera, which has effectively received most of the lucrative government projects which were not directly handed to the Taib owned CMSB over recent decades.

In an announcement on Friday it was revealed that a subsidiary of Naim Holdings (the company’s updated name) is selling two parcels of vacant land measuring some 405.6 hectares in Bintulu, Sarawak to the state controlled Sarawak Economic Development Corp (SEDC) for RM340 million (to enable a dividend to shareholders).

The purchase by the Sarawak Government owned SEDC represents a massive profit (RM115 million) for this vacant land, which the company has owned but done nothing with for 7 years.  Property dealers point out the state government body has paid nearly RM1 million per hectare, whereas state land is usually sold for more in the region of RM300 per acre. Lucky intermediary Naim Holdings.

As everyone knows, there is a long and eye-popping history of the SEDC being used to channel huge sums into Taib family owned businesses, after all the chairman of this public body is handily none other than Abdul Aziz bin Dato Haji Husain, who is Taib’s own brother in law.

Everyone in Sarawak knows that it is through deals like this that the Taibs became rich and continue to get richer. They want Hanifah sitting right where she is in the Prime Minister’s Office, keeping an eye on things to make sure all that looted wealth is protected from the angry electorate.

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