Sarawak Report "Misleading" On Sabah Land Issue?

There is no “cheap sale” of the troubled Sabah Forest Industries Sdn Bhd (SFI) land to anyone, as claimed by Sarawak Report, says a lawyer [Fuad Ahmad] who represents the Sabah government’s interests….

“The article concerning land previously owned by SFI is misleading, inaccurate and contains a number of factual errors,” he said in a statement on Tuesday (Sept 5).

The article claimed that a private operator received assistance “from the top” to have the land for only RM256mil – which the article claims to be a fraction of its market value – for the 280,000ha of forest land. The article also claimed that when SFI was first put up for sale in 2017, the same individual had agreed to pay RM1.2bil…

“Indian company Ballapur Industries Ltd who owned 90% of SFI, mismanaged both SFI’s timber concession and its pulp paper mill, causing operations to cease in November 2016.

“In 2017, SFI’s receivers and manager (R&M) – Grant Thornton Consulting Sdn Bhd – put the assets of SFI up for sale by tender.

“SFI’s assets consisted of the integrated timber complex machinery and an Acacia Mangium Forest area situated on 15 parcels of land amounting to approximately 12,000 ha,” he said, adding that the tender exercise did not include SFI’s timber concession licence as under the license terms, the concession cannot be sold.

He said that in August 2022, the Sabah government acquired the 15 parcels of land from the insolvent SFI under the ‘Sustainable Forest Timber Utilisation, Processing, Management, Conservation Research and Development Scheme, District of Sipitang’ (Public Purpose Scheme)…..  The sum offered was RM256mil.

“The basis of valuation, among others, recognised the fact that SFI’s buildings, structures and facilities were poorly maintained and in a hopeless state of disrepair.

“Moreover, the Acacia Mangium Forest areas were not maintained and properly managed, resulting in trees rotting, over-growing and suffering from disease. Also, SFI – having ceased operations in 2016 – cannot be valued as a going concern.

“The acquired land now vests absolutely in the Sabah government and will be developed in accordance with the Public Purpose Scheme by the Sabah government in conjunction with its various agencies and GLCs.

“That the R&M failed to mention this demonstrates bad faith on their part,” he said.

CM's decision having earlier granted the concession

CM’s decision having earlier granted the concession

Our comment

Lawyers will eventually battle this matter out in court arguing the points from either side.

However, what is clear is that the mismanagement of the SFI rescue sale owes to the decision by Sabah politicians back in 2018 to hand over ownership of the entire business valued at RM1.2 billion to Malaysia’s best-known crony capitalist, Syed Mokhtar, on the basis of a 10% deposit.

The timber concessions were included in that agreement.

However, Mr Mokhtar did not complete on the payment as the hunt got underway to find a joint venture partner that was actually qualified to run the business.

Despite a renewal of the arrangement by the present CM to give an extended deadline (which included a commitment to include the timber concessions which it seems that Fuad Amad seeks to claim could not be included) Syed Mokhtar instead tried to knock down the price.

It was the CM himself who intervened before the deadline expired on this arrangement to withdraw the timber license and thereby scupper the re-sale by devaluing the bulk of SFI’s key assets (that swathe of concessions).

Here is his signed letter to that effect – see opposite. This was in defiance of a commitment by the state attorney general (viewed by SR) that should Mr Mokhtar not deliver on his chance to meet the extended deadline the receivers would be able to re-tender the SFI package – including those timber concessions.

It was also the CM who, according to Sabah Hansard of 24th May, confirmed to Shafie Apdal that under the proposed ‘Sustainable Forest Timber Utilisation, Processing, Management, Conservation Research and Development Scheme’, by which he had now confiscated SFI’s timber license, “We decided to give the concession to Tan Sri Mokhtar Al-Bukhary’s company“.

Hence, while thousands of dwellers of Sipitang have lost their livelihoods owing to the years of delay by Mr Mokhtar in fulfilling his commitments, Mokhtar himself has gained control of the area without paying more than a fraction of the initial RM1.2 billion which he originally promised.

What Punishment For The Astana Over Its Previous Fake News?

Sources: Asfia to be sworn-in as acting TYT tomorrow

KUCHING (Aug 16): State Legislative Assembly (DUN) Speaker Tan Sri Datuk Amar Mohamad Asfia Awang Nassar will be sworn-in as the acting Head of State tomorrow, reliable sources said.

The term for the acting TYT will be announced by the Premier’s Office.

The sources said the appointment of an acting TYT is necessary because Governor Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud is now on extended leave overseas.

Earlier, The Borneo Post had reported that the swearing-in will be held on Friday, but it was learnt that a decision was made this afternoon to hold the swearing-in tomorrow.

It is understood that the acting TYT will exercise all constitutional powers vested in the TYT during Taib’s absence.

Asfia was last appointed acting TYT was on Dec 1, 2019 to Jan 11, 2020.

Taib and his wife Toh Puan Datuk Patinggi Raghad Kurdi Taib had left the state on a holiday about a month ago.

On Aug 3, Taib’s private secretary Junih Salleh Ahmad, in a statement to refute claims about the Governor’s condition, had said Taib would return home from overseas soon pending approval from his doctor.

Subsequently, Raghad had shared a video on social media of Taib at a seaside café in a foreign country.

Yesterday, it was revealed that Taib had undergone surgery and is recuperating in Istanbul, Turkey.

New guy Asfia

Acting new guy – Asfia


Our comment

Sarawak Report has fought a somewhat lonely battle over the past weeks, asking for fuller transparency over the health of the absent Taib Mahmud who has now been replaced as Governor, at least for the time being, in a final admission he is incapable of the job.

Others had been cowed into silence after threats by staff from the Astana who reported to the police station and demanded that anyone who circulated the reports that Taib had been possibly taken into hospital and operated on be investigated for “Fake News”.

The Astana claimed that to the contrary Taib was “Well and in good Stead”. They let it be known that anyone providing information to the contrary could be prosecuted under multi-media laws and jailed up to a year and fined on top.

Yet, it was Sarawak Report that had provided the correct information, not for the first time, in defiance of lies produced by those in authority – on this occasion the Astana.

So, will those officials responsible for hoodwinking the public by denying the Governor was unwell and undergoing significant surgery now be prosecuted instead for Fake News – perhaps jailed and fined?

The public deserve to be kept informed about the state of health of the person they hire as head of state. If he is not up to the job, either temporarily or as in this case it would seem permanently (we were promised he would return by the 16th August in the latest statement by the Astana, which again proved untrue) then a proper announcement is required immediately and not just “reliable sources” now quoted in The Borneo Post.

Meanwhile, the real issue concerning Sarawakians in this matter is that it is clear from the current court case brought by Taib’s sons that the second wife Ragad took the opportunity of Taib’s clear degeneration in the hours before this episode (he was taken acutely ill in transit as they left the country) to have her elderly husband sign over tens of millions of CMS shares into her own name.

The family say these were left in their mother’s will to them. Sarawakians may feel the company actually belongs to the public wealth. Most are agreed that the claim by Ragad raises considerable questions indeed…. along with the transfer in the same time period as her elderly husband was about to collapse of large chunks of valuable land into her name in Kuching.

It is hoped that someone besides this lady is in attendance at their hang out in Turkey, where she is believed to have set up a base owning various assets that she has managed to acquire.



Astana Still Issuing Threats & Fake News

Stop sharing fake news on Sarawak governor’s health condition, says Astana Negeri

Astana Negeri today warned social media users to stop posting fake news regarding the health condition of Sarawak Governor Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud, who is currently recuperating overseas.

Taib’s private secretary Junih Salleh Ahmad said it has come to the palace’s attention that members of the public have continuously harped on the health conditions of the head of state.

He said this despite the assurance from both the Astana and Sarawak premier’s office that he is currently recuperating overseas.

“On behalf of Astana, once again we would like to assure the people of Sarawak that his condition has been improving and God willing, and with his doctor’s advice, he will come home very soon,” Junih said in a statement.

“We hope that the people will be patient and not be easily hoodwinked by unverified news and speculations on Tun’s current health,” he said.


Our comment

How does one’s condition now “improve” from being “well and in good stead”?

That was the description given in the original statement released by the Astana about the Governor’s health, back in June when concerns were first raised.

The Astana then went on to issue threats and police reports against anyone mentioning the possibility that the Governor might indeed be under medical care, something they took six weeks to admit was true.

So, how can social media denizens (now once again threatened in the darkest terms to shut up) take any of these contradictory statements seriously, or as bearing the slightest authority or relation to the truth?

There has been no information given as to which country the Governor is even in (whilst missing the top ceremonial occasion of the year), let alone the nature of his affliction, which is implied to be minor even though it has now persisted for several weeks.

We do know, thanks to yesterday’s state government release, that Taib was indeed “taken ill” (as reported by Sarawak Report) at the time the Astana lied that he was “well and in good stead” and demanded that the police hound those who had reported the truth.

The Astana now “assures” the people of Sarawak that the Governor’s “condition is improving” and that (if God is willing and his doctors agree) he will come home “very soon”.

Those are big ifs and the Astana has discredited itself.

Many may hope for the revival of the man who has dominated the state for half a century. However, Sarawak deserves to be run professionally for the benefit of the people (at last) and not merely its office holders.

As far as truth and transparency are concerned the Astana has proven itself to be as bad as any conspiracy theorist online and someone should report it for issuing FAKE NEWS!

5 Questions In Answer To Kitingan's 'Just Shut Up' Demand

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Dr Jeffrey Kitingan said critics of the Nature Conservation Agreement (NCA) should stop talking and make things happen for the benefit of the State.

“These are those who do not understand. These people are slowing us down, while others are already far ahead,” he said when asked about the numerous opinions made about the NCA.

“It is unfortunate, but we want them to understand that we’re missing out on an opportunity to increase our revenue because other sources of revenue can only go so far.”

He said this when met at the 17th Global Congress and Conferment Ceremony held at the Sabah International Convention Centre, here, Saturday.


Our comment

Sarawak Report is used to being told to ‘shut up’ and accused of ‘not understanding’ by people who will do anything to avoid answering pertinent questions.

However, the media has a duty to ask about matters that are in the public interest and, as a politician, Kitingan has a duty to answer those questions, instead of seeking to silence valid concerns.

Sarawak Report has five main questions we want answered which reflect widespread concerns of NGOs:

1. Where are the detailed research documents commissioned by the state government to justify his claim that $800 million can be gained per year from his NCA and what are the specific areas this NCA will cover?
2. What process was undertaken to select and appoint the Singapore shell company Hoch Standard Pty Ltd to be the ‘management’ entity controlling the project, given the matter was never even put before the state assembly? Hoch Standard just happens to be represented by one Stan Lassa Golokin, a businessman who was caught up (together with Kitingan himself) in some extremely troubling prosecutions over the earlier disappearance of an alleged billion dollars from similar eco-projects in the 1980s, according to a letter to the UN Special Rapporteur that has not been denied.
3. Given Hoch Standard is due to be accorded a staggering 30% of all the profits of this enormous public venture why does the state government not instead simply hire the required experts to form a department to manage the project and save the taxpayer a fortune?
4. Being there is sooooo much cash that is going to be filtered out of the project to the company fronted by the dubious Mr Golokin, who is the actual shareholder of Lionsgate, the BVI entity that is registered as the beneficial owner of Hoch Standard? Indeed, how can it be possible that the Sabah state government could have signed up to a ‘binding agreement’ involving so much money with an anonymous entity?
5. On what possible justification has this binding agreement included a ‘cancellation clause’ that would allow Hoch Standard to claim its entire share of the projected profits (which have been condemned as being outlandishly optimistic) whether or not the project comes to fruition?

We ask these questions because far from needing to rush into the NCA in order not to miss out on opportunities to make billions for the people of Sabah, the terms of the agreement as presently drafted and signed up to by Kitingan and his boss, would allow the anonymously owned Hoch Standard to make a complete hash of the entire process but nonetheless claim 30% of the unfounded profit projection.

Quite the opposite of making Sabah money, this would amount to yet another appalling raid on the taxpayer for the benefit of an anonymous person whom Mr Kitingan seems to be keen to enrich.

MACC Must Investigate Sabah's 'Carbon Cowboy Conspiracy'

The proponents of the controversial Nature Conservation Agreement have secured the support of 16 native non-governmental organisations and associations following a briefing on the project and its benefits.

According to a press release sent by Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Jeffrey Kitingan’s political secretary Mohd Anuar Abdul Ghani, representatives from the 16 associations were briefed today at the Kadazandusun Cultural Association building.

“They said that after listening to the briefing, they have full understanding of the NCA and give their Free, Prior, Informed Consent (FPIC) and support to the NCA,” he said in a statement released today.

“It is their fervent hope that the people in particular the natives of Sabah who will be affected and involved will get the benefit of the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) of the United Nations. They urge the state government to immediately implement the NCA and abide by the 17 SDGs,” he said.

Our comment

Over a year ago Sarawak Report, along with numerous NGOs, media platforms and even Sabah’s own Attorney General, lambasted a blatant bad deal cooked up by the Sabah state leadership in the name of ‘carbon trading’.

The so-called Nature Conservation Agreement (NCA) purported to be based on UN backed REDD principles in order to raise carbon capture deals for an unspecified 2 million hectares of state forest/ indigenous lands. However, as a joint protest to the UN Special Rapporteur pointed out, none of the correct procedures had been followed, including necessary consultations with native stakeholders.

Investigations further revealed a mass of red flags over the deal itself, which had been signed by the new chief minister of the state and his deputy Jeffrey Kitingan, whose party held the balance of power after Kitngan had flipped sides to overthrow the previous administration.

Indeed, the state’s own AG wrote that the NCA document was “Incomplete”, “illegal”, “inequitable”, “absurd”, “unfair” (see her statement).

The red flags included what the protestors described as a vastly inflated estimate of the revenue potential of the scheme for an area yet to be delineated. The projection was that Sabah would make $800 million a year from the project – 80 times the realistic value, say the NGOs.

Another red flag was the appointment, without tendering naturally, of a ‘management company’ for the scheme that turned out to be one Hoch Standard Pty Ltd, a newly incorporated shell company in Singapore without any staff or track record, but which the deputy chief minister Jeffry Kitingan chose to describe as a “global player, involved in private equity funding all over the world”.

Hoch Standard has been accorded the right to take no less than 30% of all those massive anticipated profits for the next 100 years under this NCA deal signed off by Kitingan and the boss who relies on him to stay in office….  And this shell company just happens to have as its sole ‘authorised representative’ one Stan Lassa Golokin, a businessman who goes back a very long way indeed with none other than Jeffrey Kitingan.

According to the protest lodged with the UN, Golokin managed a string of previous ‘eco-ventures’ commissioned by Kitingan when Kitingan was CEO of the Sabah [forest] Foundation in the 1980s (appointed by his brother who was chief minister at the time).

Most went bust, causing a billion dollars of public money to go missing unaccounted, according to a Price Waterhouse report at the time.

Kitingan was arrested and prosecuted, but got off and flipped to support the federal government. Golokin chose to reside abroad during that tricky period, continued the joint protest letter to the UN Special Rapporteur in March 2021.

In which case, have either of these longstanding venture partners the right track record to mastermind yet another grand ‘eco-venture’ proposed by them? Kitingan has never countered or denied Sarawak Report’s coverage of these several accusations over a year ago.

The other red flags attached to this deal are more shocking still. There has been no transparency as to who is the lucky shareholder of the BVI company Lionsgate which in turn owns Hoch Standard. Nonetheless, the two Sabah leaders signed what was termed as a ‘binding contract’, despite the AG’s belated attempts to insist it was only a ‘provisional’ arrangement.

And that ‘binding contract’ contained a so-called ‘cancellation clause’ that pledged to pay the mystery beneficial ownership of this shell company its 30% of those inflated projected profits in full, even if the NCA itself proved to be a total failure or if the state decides to sever the agreement.

Who could have Mr Kitingan have sought to favour with such a sweetheart arrangement whereby Hock Standard could end up billing the people of Sabah potentially hundreds of millions for doing precisely nothing? The state government has neglected to provide an answer.

The NCA project appeared to founder last year after the deluge of rightful criticism and the rebuttals of the state Attorney General. However, it emerges that the multiple party hopper, ‘Kanga’ Kitingan, who has undoubtedly sought to exploit the benefits of holding the balance of power/trading his votes throughout his political career, has not given up on this carbon trading dream of his.

Despite the change in federal government, Kitingan has started plugging his NCA proposal once more as a great solution for Sabah (as if a more transparent, tendered project would not be preferable) and has started pushing again for the NCA to be adopted.

In his latest move he has sought to address one of the glaring flaws in his original plan by dragging together some ‘native representatives’ for a one day gathering and then issuing a press release claiming that (having had his good intentions explained to them) they now all happily support his plans with “free, prior and informed consent’!

He gets full marks for brass neckery. However, the MACC must investigate before this proposal goes a step further.

"In Good Health" But Under Doctors' Orders To Stay In Bed

Sarawak Head of State, Taib Mahmud, who is in good health and currently overseas says he will return to Sarawak once his doctor permits him to do so.

Sending his greetings from overseas, he conveyed his appreciation and gratitude to Sarawakians who remembered him in their prayers.

“I am currently in good health and still abroad. I was advised by the doctor to rest and return to Sarawak a little later after getting the doctor’s permission.

“And finally, I would like to express my appreciation and gratitude to all the people of Sarawak who have prayed for my health and well-being all this time,” said Taib in his Sarawak 60th Independence Day Celebration.

WhatsApp Image 2023-07-21 at 11.28.20

Our comment

What better oxymoron than this statement that the Governor is in good health and will be allowed to return to his job when his doctor permits!

Sarawak Report had speculated that the 60th Independence Day celebrations would finally flush out the lying bullies from the Astana who have issued police reports to intimidate and accuse those who had suggested the Governor of Sarawak might not be quite fit and well enough to do his job.

In the end they left it till the 11th hour to admit that the presiding seat on this occasion would be left empty. What an admission, a full fortnight after threatening those who had raised concerns about the Governor’s health with charges of ‘Fake News’ (potential prison sentence 20 years).

“I was advised by the doctor to rest and return to Sarawak a little later after getting the doctor’s permission“.

Would that be in Turkey, where he was headed when he first fell sick on the plane, or is it Singapore where his private plane has been parked for much of the past several days?

What is now acknowledged is yes, Taib is abroad in an undisclosed location, and yes, he is under doctors’ supervision. All this after it was insisted that Taib was “well and in good stead“.

Now that we know that the Governor’s office cannot be relied upon to tell the truth, what can we make of this claim that Taib is well but prevented under doctors’ orders from returning to the state to perform a key state ceremony that is integral to his job?

Why not just admit that he has been indisposed as leaders sometimes are?  Is it because the situation is far, far more serious than they are willing to disclose? If so, what power struggles are going on behind the scenes in the alleged democratic state of Sarawak?

The Sarawakians, whom the Governor claims to wish the best for in these ‘conveyed’ remarks, deserve better and more transparent governance than this insulting lack of information combined with intimidation and downright lies.

Royalty Is Above Taking Offence, So No Need On Their Behalf

Sanusi Nor has arrived at the sessions court here, where he is expected to face two charges of insulting Selangor’s Sultan Shrafuddin Idris Shah.

In a statement, PAS secretary-general Takiyuddin Hassan urged party members to keep calm and respect the legal process.

PAS mouthpiece HarakahDaily had earlier shared on its Twitter account that Sanusi was arrested at 3am and brought to the Gombak district police station.

At a recent pre-election ceramah, Sanusi reportedly drew a comparison between the Kedah and Selangor sultans and said the Kedah ruler would not have appointed Amirudin Shari as the Selangor menteri besar.

The Jeneri assemblyman has since apologised for his remarks, which he claimed had been distorted by his political rivals in the unity government.

Yesterday, Sultan Sharafuddin said the issue “had yet to be resolved”.

Our comment

Does the Sultan in this case really welcome such a prosecution on his behalf? The person in question has already been roundly ticked off by society in general and apologised.

The respect and soft power of hereditary monarchs in a democratic system relies on their good  reputation and the public’s genuine affection. It should not be – and indeed cannot be – enforced through threats and punishments.

Nor does it need to be. The wealthy and powerful have more than enough instruments to bat off untruths. They have a voice that is listened to and the resources to expose inaccuracies.

Prosecutions for ‘insults’ are rarely wise and this prosecution seems to have already been counter-productive in dividing the public and becoming politicised to the detriment of the unity of the state.

Malaysia’s generally lighter touch in this regard is, to a large degree, why it has a civil government compared, for example, to the military governments that have backed up the King of Thailand – against whom any perceived insult is brutally punished under law.

Likewise, pre-war Japan.

Consider which system has been the more stable and peaceful and where the affection for royalty is perhaps more genuine.

This crass PAS politician ought to have his apology accepted, therefore, so everyone can go home and concentrate on the real stuff of politics.

"Father Of Modern Sarawak" Gone Missing?

Taib – Father Of Modern Sarawak

Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud is one of those rare breed of politicians who has helped transform Sarawak from a mere backwater area in the 1960s into a modern and progressive region in Malaysia today.

The Miri-born, Adelaide-trained lawyer has been in Sarawak’s political scene since the formation of Malaysia in 1963 right until today, in his capacity as the Yang di-Pertua Negeri Sarawak.

In a press release issued by Astana Negeri in connection with the Sarawak’s 60 Years of Independence celebration, Taib said serving Sarawak for him had been ‘a calling’, as he actually had options after having graduated in 1960.

His political journey in transforming Sarawak began when he was appointed Minister of Communications and Works under the first chief minister of Sarawak Tan Sri Datuk Amar Stephen Kalong Ningkan’s cabinet.

Recalling those days, Taib said developing Sarawak was ‘a daunting task’ as it was a vast, geographically-challenging and under-developed state….

Our comment

The Borneo Post appears to have chosen this Monday morning, somewhat randomly, to lead its news coverage with a strangely non-news oriented article entitled
Taib – Father of Modern Sarawak.

The article reads to all intents like an obituary but is referring to the present Governor of Sarawak, whose office has recently released a number of statements assuring the public that he is “well and in good stead”.

Indeed, the staff of the Astana have done more than that. They have issued a series of threatening police reports accusing various bloggers, activists and Facebook denizens of ‘fake news’ and stirring up public discord (under various oppressive acts which carry long sentences) for suggesting that the 87 year old Governor might have fallen ill.

Despite the need to publish these claims that Taib is hale and hearty, there has been no effort made to present the head of state in public.

A picture of Taib holding the hagiography to his long career in today’s Borneo Post would do a fine job of settling the now stifled rumours that the Governor might have succumbed to the long term effects of his earlier treatments for colon cancer.

Under such circumstances, it does seem to be a rather strange misjudgement by the crony newspaper to have issued the sort of glowing retrospective on Taib’s life (based on a press release yet again issued by the Astana) that one would normally expect to see the day after someone died.

Talking about adding fuel to the fire!

Never mind. This Saturday, the annual Independence Day celebrations (60 years) are due to be held, at which the Governor always takes a very central role. Things may have been quiet on the official duties front for several weeks at the Astana, but Sarawakians will be pleased to see him leading the occasion as normal on that day.


Freedom To Ask Questions Is Key To Democracy

Astana files police report over comments against Raghad
A spokesman said the report was lodged by several Astana officers at Gita police station last Saturday. — Photo via the Official Website of the TYT Yang di-Pertua Negeri Sarawak
KUCHING (July 10): The Astana Negeri Sarawak has lodged a police report against individuals, who had allegedly made scathing comments against the wife of the Yang Di-Pertua Negeri, Toh Puan Datuk Patinggi Raghad Kurdi Taib.

A spokesman said the report was lodged by several Astana officers at Gita police station last Saturday.

Asked whom the Astana Negeri had complained about, the spokesman said it was against certain individuals cited in an online news portal’s report but he did not name them.

It is believed, however, that the complaints were in connection with comments made by
Global Human Rights Federation vice president Peter John Jaban and his associate, Robert Saweng recently.

They had questioned Raghad’s status as a Sarawakian and the privileges she, as well as her son from her earlier marriage, Nizar Mahmoud Madi, enjoy.

Peter and Robert had lodged police reports on the matter at Sungai Maong police station here on June 28, 2023.

In a press statement today, Peter said he viewed the police report against him and his associates as an attempt to stifle debate on the status and position of a public figure, although that information was already in the public domain and subject of several news reports.

Our comment

Why do the staff of the Astana insist on making this sort of undignified spectacle of themselves, trooping down to the police station because people have asked questions about the status of a public figure?

If the public figure’s status is legitimate under the law, which in this case it probably is, then simply issue a statement with evidence to make that point. If it is not, don’t seek to intimidate.

Certainly, by responding in this manner the Astana are giving the impression they are rattled by the questions being asked, which is likely to produce the exact opposite of what they seem to hope to achieve in terms of public opinion.

There is frustration in a state where so many indigenous folk have been denied their rights of citizenship, meaning the poorest are deprived schooling and charged a fortune if they need to go to hospital.

This is why there is so much anger when a naive and pampered foreign born son of a foreign born mother flashes his Blue IC card on Instagram between wiping his ketchup stained mouth with bank notes.

He got his IC card because his elderly stepfather is the Governor of the state. If the process was legitimate then simply make that clear and shut up the critics. Why threaten police harassment as if to stop others from raising the same questions?

Meanwhile, the case brought by the Governor’s actual children against the mother in this case (Taib’s second wife Ragad who seems to be behind much of the present decision-making at the Astana) is rather more relevant and yet barely covered by the likes of the Borneo Post.

Taib’s children are suing over how she has procured family assets during an evident period of decline in their father’s health. Most Sarawakians would agree with their stance, but would also demand for a thorough examination as to how the family acquired such unexplained wealth in the first place.

Likewise, the lucrative large plots of former native lands suddenly transferred from the Governor’s possession to his wife.

All this points to the yawning absence of any public appearances by the said elderly Governor. This has now stretched to some weeks, despite yet more trips to the police station by the staff of the Astana to claim their boss is hale and hearty and threaten those who would like to be shown more proof.

Why has Madame Ragad’s Instagram page, which was in the past prolific in posting loving poses of her and her grandpop husband, gone silent? Why, given the rumours, has there been no attempt to stage a public appearance or even a holiday snap?

A picture of Taib holding the Borneo Post with today’s date on it would do the job. No need to keep tripping off to the police station. Failing that Sarawakians are much looking forward the Governor’s traditional appearance at the Independence Day celebrations later this month.

That would certainly end the sense felt by so many in Sarawak right now that decisions are being made not by the Governor but by a second wife who is in conflict with his own family.