Talkback

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.

Sir Galahad Runs Out Of Steam?

Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Tiong King Sing appears set to be a no-show at the MACC headquarters in Putrajaya today.

The media have been waiting for the minister and the tourist he “rescued” from the KLIA last week since 8am, but have not spotted either of them.

They were supposed to be questioned by the MACC today over an incident at the airport, when the tourist – a China national – was denied entry.

Tiong claimed there was corruption involved in the incident, prompting a probe by the MACC.

 

Our comment

Having made a fine spectacle of his gallantry over the weekend, the bouncing Sarawak GPS Tourism Minister appears to have failed to carry out his ‘clean up operation’ against KLIA Immigration Services, in that he did not turn up as promised at the MACC.

What provoked this minister to rush personally overnight to the airport to secure the release of a young female Chinese official who had been detained by immigration (for reasons unknown) therefore remains unclear.

Why did he not just pick up the phone to the person in charge of such matters and allow due process to ensue?

If he suspected ‘corruption’ was involved in her detainment why has he not gone to the MACC to present his evidence?

Clearly there is a certain level of dignity accorded to his office and on several grounds it would, whatever the circumstances, have been better to have allowed a lesser person to go down to the airport, apparently late at night, to pick this lady up having demanded her release.

Advisors ought to suggest to this minister that protocol and decorum will protect him from general astonishment and the media furore that all this has provoked in future. If there are concerns about the behaviour of immigration officers he ought certainly bring this up with the appropriate ministry (not his) at the soonest convenience and urge a proper investigation by the right people.

He should meanwhile stable his white horse and resist the impulse to personally rescue young ladies in such a dramatic and newsworthy fashion should future concerns arise.

Sarawak Timber Giant Fined $40 m For Transfer Pricing Scam In PNG

A major logging operator in Papua New Guinea has been charged a whopping K140 million [$40m] for tax evasion, Internal Revenue Commission (IRC) boss Sam Koim announced yesterday…. for engaging in illicit tax evasion, specifically through transfer pricing.

This amended assessment (tax bill) is a direct outcome of an extensive transfer pricing audit .. the Commissioner General, Sam Koim, revealed when announcing the outcome of the first of more than twenty audits initiated since he took office.

He said “the logging sector in PNG has long been suspected of involvement in tax evasion. Instead of turning a blind eye, we have initiated over twenty audits since I took office.”

Our comment

PNG’s anti-corruption champion and now chief prosecutor, Sam Koim, did not name the logging company which has thus had its tax bill revised upwards.

However, Sarawak Report has been reliably informed that it is a subsidiary of one of the major Sarawak timber companies which have been operating in Papua New Guinea in exactly the way they operate back home, destroying millions of hectares of virgin forest.

According to Koim the so-called practice of ‘transfer pricing’ has explained in this particular case how it was that the company mysteriously made meagre profits from its logging operations and yet appeared to flourish and kept coming back for more.

The same scam has often been suspected in Sarawak over past decades where, likewise, the logging giants have appeared to have sold their laden cargoes of timber for a miserable profit and yet persisted with their destructive business.

In short, the company is said to sell to itself or an accomplice based somewhere like Singapore. At which point the ‘buyer’ then re-sells their dirt cheap bargain on the global market for a much higher price.

The taxman is only informed of the original sale meaning that the state and local folk receive little or no benefit from brutal extraction of their valuable resources.

Having dug into several transactions Koim clearly believes he has proven in this case that this was practice that was going on with this major Sarawak concern. He has another twenty cases under investigation involving largely the same handful of companies that first chewed up Sarawak and then invested in logging elsewhere.

It is high time that the federal authorities in Malaysia did the same thing with a rigorous deep dive into all the books of the so-called Sarawak Big Six timber companies who have so very unconvincingly been telling all and sundry that they have been charitably operating for very little profit for the past half century.

Any politicians who, unlike Sam Koim, have decided to take major donations for their campaigns and turn a blind eye instead ought to have plenty to worry about the moment such an investigation is launched in Sarawak.

It would appear that billions have gone missing and therefore billions are owed. What’s more tax evasion is a serious crime for which it is never too late to prosecute. Sarawak and Malaysia deserve recompense.

Why Has The Astana Negeri Sarawak Issued Threats But No Photo-Ops?

Astana officials file police report over fake news on Sarawak TYT’s health, well-being:

Astana Negeri Sarawak officials lodged a police report today over fake news regarding the health and well-being of the Head of State, Taib Mahmud, on various social media platforms.

The Governor’s press secretary Peter Sibon said no specific names were given as it is up to the police to conduct their investigation and take the necessary action….

According to Peter, the police will investigate the case under Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 for offences of using network facilities to transmit communication deemed to be offensive or could cause annoyance to another person.

The Section provides for up to one year in jail, a fine up to RM50,000, or both upon conviction.

The Astana Negeri Sarawak officials also lodged a similar report with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission for further investigation.

A statement issued by the Astana Negeri Sarawak yesterday said Taib is well and in good stead.

The statement said all news unverified by the Astana regarding the Governor’s well-being which had gone viral were completely fake and untrue.

kch-230623-jv-astana

 

 

Our comment

It was as long ago as Thursday that the Astana Negeri Sarawak took the highly unusual step of issuing a press release to state that the Governor is “well and in good stead” contrary to what it admits has been “viralled and unverified news regarding the wellbeing of Tun in social media platforms” that “are completely fake and untrue.”

The following day, the officials took a further public step in the form of a naked threat to the media or any individual who dares to speculate on the Governor’s health by posturing outside a police station where they say they have made a police report, under Malaysia’s notorious ‘Fake News’ laws, against unspecified people who they say have used social media platforms to pass ‘untrue information’.

The officials waived their report against these anonymous folk and their unspecified ‘fake news’, encouraging the media to remind the world that in Malaysia someone can be landed with ‘up to one year in jail, a fine up to RM50,000, or both upon conviction’ thanks to this law re-vamped under former prime minster Najib Razak. This for “a communication deemed to be offensive or could cause annoyance to another person.

Najib himself charged Sarawak Report under this very law for alleged ‘fake news’ regarding 1MDB – presumably we annoyed him.

It is to be noted that it is in fact Najib who is now in jail (for 12 years and rising) because what Sarawak Report published was in fact entirely true.

Meanwhile, since those extremely heavy handed and unusual actions there has been no further report whatsoever emanating from the Astana relating to the hale and heartiness of the Governor.

Nor has there been any sighting of the head of state who was reported (apparently untruthfully) to have been taken ill whilst flying with his wife Ragad by private jet to Turkey. If the head of state is indeed in excellent health, as claimed, then five days is quite long enough for him to have arranged to be seen functioning at some official or social event in order to lay concerns to rest.

This would be far more effective in silencing untrue speculation than sending underlings to issue threats outside a police station.

Alternatively, if the Governor is unwell then why not say so? It happens.  If he is very unwell the people have a right to know and to be assured that provisions are being made.

In the absence of further information people are naturally left wondering and whispering instead. Some have said he is being treated in Kuching others say he has been taken into hospital in Turkey – it is a law of fake news that speculation fills a media vacuum and apparently fake news is what the Astana has been seeking to avoid.

Confidence in the transparency of this state government has been therefore further undermined (if possible).

Anyone can see that this over-reaction by the Astana Negeri Sarawak has only fuelled the speculation and fanned concerns, particularly given the secretiveness and deceptiveness of the past. Why were Taib’s officials the only one being photographed making dire threats outside a police station when it would be so much easier for the Governor to speak for himself and put an end to all the gossip?

As for throwing folk in jail, the people have a right to know if their head of state is fit to govern, temporarily indisposed or at death’s door. They also have a right to speculate when such speculation can so easily be put to rest.

The legal complaint by Taib’s children against his second wife, which has simultaneously flared up in recent days as Ragad suddenly started to acquire large chunks of Taib’s assets, apparently at his behest, meanwhile continues ….. and continues to raise questions about what exactly is going on behind the firmly shut doors of the Governor’s mansion.

US Adopting Bad Old Ways?

The nominee to be the next US ambassador to Malaysia said yesterday he saw the potential for the United States to expand cooperation with the South-east Asian country in diversifying supply chains for rare earths and other critical minerals.

Edgard Kagan, a career diplomat who is currently the senior official for East Asia at the White House National Security Council, told his Senate confirmation hearing that developing new sources for critical minerals to ensure reliable supply chains was a very high priority for the Biden administration.

“The importance of working on these arrangements with countries where we have good relationships… is absolutely critical,” he said, adding: “I think that we have real potential to do that in countries like Malaysia.”

“I would want to work closely with the American private sector, with different parts of the US government, and with the Malaysian government to ensure that we’re able to continue expanding the areas of cooperation in this, support development of resources,” he said.

Our comment

By these remarks is the prospective US Ambassador indicating that he plans to put pressure on the Malaysian government to reverse its policy on the Lynas ‘rare earth plant’ in Pahang in order to continue with the production of hazardous materials imported from Australia?

Permission to process these rare earths in Pahang was accompanied, under the kleptocrat Najib government, by a highly dubious $100 million contract to a royal owned company to dispose of the toxic waste – a job it was plainly unqualified to do.

Heaps of low level radio-active material have therefore lain around the site, forming a long-term health hazard for the people of the region and endangering the precious eco-systems of the water table.

The post-Najib reforming governments have ordered that this must stop and have politely given time for Lynas to alter its arrangements, despite the concerns for Malaysian people.

Naturally, the Australian company has pushed back because it built the plant in Malaysia owing to reluctance by local people in Australia to host the toxic materials in their own country.

However, the US ought not to add its pressure on the grounds of its hard won good relations with Malaysia. This rare earth is mined in AUSTRALIA, which is also an ally of the United States and a country equally concerned about the strategic value of these metals.

That is where the material ought to be kept and responsibly processed rather that having it transported thousands of miles to Malaysia where the company chosen to handle the material was selected on political rather than safety grounds.

If the US wish to maintain their good relations with countries like Malaysia (and not go back to neo-colonialist ways) then they need to respect Malaysian lives as much as they respect Australian lives and not expect a weaker country to act as a dustbin for wealthier economies like theirs.

Let Them Eat Cake?

Johor ruler Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar is now the proud owner of the country’s most expensive number plate to date.

Transport Minister Anthony Loke revealed that Sultan Ibrahim had paid RM1.2 million to the government to acquire “FF 1” from the Road Transport Department’s (RTD) special “FF” series.

In a Facebook post today, Loke said he was granted an audience with the southern state ruler to hand over the unique number plate.

“For the record, the payment of RM1.2 million is the highest value ever collected by the government for the registration of a vehicle number plate!

…. Sultan Ibrahim, who owns a lavish car collection, is no stranger to winning bids and paying a hefty amount for highly sought-after number plates.

In 2016, His Majesty bought the “F 1” registration number after making a winning bid of RM836,660 for it. A month later, he splurged another RM989,780 for the “V 1” plate.

Sultan Ibrahim had previously also won the bids for the “W1N” and “WWW1” number plates for RM748,000 and RM520,000 respectively.

Our comment

It is to be hoped the money gained by the government will be put to good use in return for yet another absurd luxury for a member of Malaysia’s super-consumer elite.

However, those with humbler appetites for ostentation and luxury are likely to be thinking of all the good uses that a million plus ringgit could have been put to to ameliorate the lives of the poverty stricken classes in that state.

Early nurseries and baby milk for poor mothers?  Any kind of sustenance for those suffering the worst of the high global food prices would do.

Roads are useful and the oil-rich country has plenty of them to benefit the owners of fleets of cars. However, in Malaysia too many are left behind and it would appear that the minds of those with plenty of cash are not focused on their duties towards those people.