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Thread: Sarawak: INSIDE MALAYSIA’S SHADOW STATE, global witness

   
   
       
  1. #1
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    Sarawak: INSIDE MALAYSIA’S SHADOW STATE, global witness

    Taib Blames His Own Uncle And A Conspiracy To “Frame” Him!

    19 Mar 2013
    “It’s nothing to do with me, right?”
    The strain on Taib was there for all to see yesterday, after the corruption video exposing his family and his entire regime went viral.


    Speaking to journalists on camera yesterday a rambling Chief Minister attempted to appear jovial and easy-going, but his anger was barely concealed.

    Sarawak Report has learnt that his London lawyers spent weeks trying to gag the Global Witness expose before it was released..


    And in a series of excuses, the Chief Minister now painted a complex conspiracy to “frame him” that seemed to defy all logic, as he accused the people who most benefit from his regime of betrayal.

    Frequently wild eyed and returning back to the cameras after walking away, he even rounded on members of his own family, the daughters of his uncle and predecessor Rahman Ya’kub:


    You know that cousin?. . you find out what was the relationship between her father and me was it friendly or not? We were fighting one time, so that person cannot be my most trusted.. but up to you”, he lambasted as anxious aides tried to quieten him down and steer him towards his cream Rolls Royce.

    The billionaire White Rajah of Sarawak had earlier tried to make out he was the vulnerable victim of an all powerful NGO:


    “It’s a bit naughty of them. They are using their big power in order to blacken my name“, he whined, using his favourite term “naughty” to describe people who have exposed his blatant corruption.
    Raking up the past – diversionary tactic?


    Heading for his rolls royce, but then turning back to accuse people of “trying to frame” him.
    But in focusing on his legendary, but past, disputes with his uncle Taib had ignored most of the rest of the evidence in the video expose.


    The point was that everyone in the video was saying the same thing, which is that Taib hands out the licences for everything in Sarawak and does it either to favour his family or to get kickbacks.


    One of the families known to be closest to him in business, the Hiis, were also caught out in the video admitting that Datuk Hii Yii Peng gets all his licences because he is close to the Chief Minister and that he pays him 10% up front for the favour.


    “I [Taib] say I award you this licence, in return you are grateful to me, maybe he say I give you a percentage.. probably 10%. He is selling for RM230 million” [Huang Lung Ong, Hii family lawyer]
    Did the Hii family join this ‘conspiracy to frame Taib’ or were they just indiscreet to someone they thought was buying the NCR land Taib had handed them?

    The person speaking was Hii’s own nephew, who was the family’s lawyer negotiating the sale of NCR land, which had been confiscated and given to them by Taib.


    Did the Hiis also join the conspiracy to bite the hand that feeds them?


    And what about the lawyer Alvin Chong, who benefits from numerous jobs linked to the Chief Minister, including representing the Land & Survey Department?


    Chong could not stop talking about all his methods for cheating and avoiding tax and, like his employers the Rahman Ya’kub sisters, he made clear that this is how land sales are handled all the time in Sarawak.


    Singapore, explained Chong, was the place everyone likes to get paid for such deals, because it is safe from the prying Malaysian tax authorities who would notice the profit being made between the peanuts that Taib charges for the land on behalf of the people and the State of Sarawak and the amount that his friends and family can then sell it on for.


    “Singapore is the new Switzerland. The jurisdiction for people like us”, says Alvin Chong, “I put it to use many times”

    This has nothing to do with Ming Court and everything to do with the Taib family’s ostentatious wealth

    Trade secrets – was trusted lawyer Chong joining the ‘conspiracy to frame Taib’ or just being a blabbermouth about his clever ways of getting around tax?

    For these reasons Taib’s angry reference to the ancient rivalry with his uncle seems a clear attempt at distraction.


    What is relevant is the cause of the conflict, which broke out when Taib took over his uncle’s position in the 1980s and immediately cancelled all the equally corrupt timber licences, which had been handed out by Ya’kub to his own family and supporters.


    Taib just made sure that the new licences favoured him and his own cronies instead, while making a great play of getting rid of corruption and saving Sarawak’s forests.


    If Taib’s own protege Awang Tengah, succeeds in taking control Sarawak right after the election (as we have revealed he is plotting to do) we can expect to see a similar cancelling of past favours and the issuing of new ones.


    The biggest lie


    The biggest lie in all that Taib said yesterday was his simple claim that everything is done not by back room deals in Sarawak, but by open and lawful procedures:


    “I don’t believe in deals, everything has got to be done according to government procedures” [Taib]

    But, as everyone knows, all contracts and licences in the state are negotiated behind doors without open tenders and end up in the hands of Taib’s family, proxies or cronies!

    No deals, just ‘government procedure’ – so how did you afford all your Rolls Royces from a life-time on state salaries Taib?
    Taib is a lawyer and he has made clear that even after 30 years of graft he still knows how things ought to be done. But, he is convincing no one but himself if he thinks people believe that is how things are done in Sarawak.


    This is why everyone, including top lawyers like Chong, speak so openly about the corruption of the system under BN. After all, how could anyone like him get away with his outrageous land deals and tax dodges if Taib himself was not turning a blind eye to the robbery against his people?


    Time for fresh government to clear things up?
    py

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    INSIDE MALAYSIA’S SHADOW STATE

    A FILM BY GLOBAL WITNESS








    WHAT IS THIS FILM ABOUT?



    This investigation provides undercover footage of the corruption and illegality at the heart of governance in Sarawak, Malaysia’s largest state, on the island of Borneo.


    For over thirty years, Sarawak has been governed by Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud, who controls all land classification, forestry and plantation licenses in the state. Under his tenure, Sarawak has experienced some of the most intense rates of logging seen anywhere in the world. The state now has less than five per cent of its forests left in a pristine condition, unaffected by logging or plantations and continues to export more tropical logs than South America and Africa combined.


    The film reveals for the first time the instruments used by the ruling Taib family and its lawyers to skirt Malaysia’s laws and taxes. It shows how they cream off huge profits at the expense of indigenous people, and hide their dirty money in Singapore.


    Taib and the local lawyers we approached denied Global Witness’s allegations of corruption. A summary of their responses is included at the end of the film.

    HOW DOES CORRUPTION AFFECT SARAWAK’S PEOPLE?


    Corruption is destroying the fabric of Sarawak’s society and squandering the state’s natural resources. The region’s indigenous people have borne the brunt of this. Ancestral land to which they have claims has been routinely licensed for logging and plantations, badly damaging their livelihoods and violating their rights under Sarawak and Malaysian law. This has trapped many communities in a cycle of poverty and dependency.


    Moreover, corruption affects the future well-being of all Malaysian citizens. This investigation demonstrates how money that should be driving development is being lost to corruption and hidden in secrecy jurisdictions overseas. Malaysia is thought to be the world’s third largest source of such illicit financial flows, which lost the country an estimated US$285 billion (RM863 billion), or over US$43,000 (RM130,000) perhousehold between 2001 and 2010. This is money that could have been spent on improving key services and quality of life for ordinary Malaysians.



    IS THIS A WIDER PROBLEM THAN SARAWAK?


    The timber rush which occurred during Taib’s three decades in office has spawned some of the world’s largest logging companies. These companies have had a catastrophic effect on forests and indigenous communities in almost every major tropical forested region in the world, and are regularly implicated in major illegal logging scandals.


    Global Witness’ analysis shows that Sarawak’s logging companies are currently logging or converting forests to plantations in at least 12 countries. Their operations cover an area of 18 million hectares worldwide, an area roughly three times the landmass of Norway.



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    It was mere 'coffeeshop' talk, says Sibu lawyer



    A lawyer in the centre of an explosive video expose that implicates the family of Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud in alleged shady land deals has claimed he was trapped by an international activist organisation.

    Huang Lung Ong toldThe Malay Mail by phone from Sibu yesterday: "I was trapped. I was consulted on legal matters regarding land,” he said.

    “Why should I speak about the chief minister?” A partner of law firm Huang & Co fumed.

    “I may have uttered some words out of frustration as he (the 'foreign investor') kept on asking me many questions. I was pressured,” he said.

    Huang claimed that what he had said to the "foreign investor", who he referred to as Andy Stewart, was mere “coffeeshop” talk.


    Posed as investor

    The lawyer said he was unaware that he was being filmed and that he has not seen the video which was filmed last May.

    Huang was one of two lawyers interviewed by an undercover Global Witness (GW) investigator in what the London-based NGO claimed was an “investigation revealing corruption and illegality” in Sarawak.

    GW activists investigate and campaign against environmental and human rights abuses.

    The investigator was sent to Sarawak last year to pose as a "foreign investor" looking to buy land to set up oil palm plantations. Reports allege the investor was offered four land leases during the covert investigation.

    GW captured on video discussions with Taib’s cousins and several other intermediaries to acquire thousands of hectares of forest land in the state.

    The almost 17-minute video Inside Malaysia’s Shadow State was posted on YouTube on Monday.


    Uncle from wife's side


    In the video, Huang is seen speaking casually to a Global Witness investigator in a hotel room.

    At one stage, Huang said that the land deal they were negotiating involved his “uncle from his wife’s side” and implied Taib was involved.

    Relating his side of the story, Huang said he was informed of a potential investor by one Jacky Ling, a Sibu-based broker and a friend.

    “Jacky has helped my firm in the past as I did sale and purchase agreements for several small deals including the sale of semi-detached and terrace houses.

    “He told me there was a big land deal coming up and the buyer wanted to consult on some legal matters.

    “Jacky introduced me to Stewart in May last year about 4pm in my office. Stewart said he was from England and I briefed him about Malaysian land law matters.

    “The Englishman passed me a name card and it was stated Andy Stewart. I didn’t bother looking at other details.”


    'This is unfair to me'

    Stewart had apparently invited Huang for a drink several days later at a hotel where the discussion was recorded.

    “He began by saying how much he loved Sarawak and its people, but towards the end he started asking me questions about the land and the chief minister.

    “How can I answer all those questions? I’m just a lawyer protecting the broker’s interest.”

    Asked if the landowner was in fact his "uncle", Huang said; “He is a distant relative. I respect everyone elder than me by calling them uncle or aunty.”

    When suggested that as a lawyer he would be used to grilling witnesses in court, and he would know if he was being pressured to answer questions, Huang kept mum.

    He said: “People don’t understand and this is unfair to me. This has certainly tarnished my reputation.

    “We cannot be bullied by NGOs who want to thrash our country. I’m a very frank man and I’ve got a family to take care.

    “I will not rule out the possibility of lodging a report with the authorities and sue Global Witness if I have the means,” Huang said.


    Another lawyer

    The other lawyer is Alvin Chong who told the undercover investigators how to dodge taxes and to acquire the 51 per cent of shareholdings that by law should be held by Malaysian citizens.

    The subtitles in the video in one of Chong’s remarks read: “...You do it (not holding shares in trust) in Singapore, then it wouldn’t surface and the nominee’s not going to keep a shred of paper...”

    Chong who has reportedly represented the Sarawak government was not available for comment but the end of the GW video carries a statement from his law firm, Alvin Chong and Partners:

    “We categorically deny our Mr Chong acted as legal spokesperson for the alleged party.

    “We deny any discussions to allegedly evade tax and if there were any purported discussions these were strictly hypothetical.”


    Explosive video reveals licence abuses by Taib family

    Sarawak's way of evading tax and shareholding rules

    Taib Mahmud denies cousins were his brokers

    MACC to 'act accordingly' on Global Witness claims
    Civil society in two minds over RCI on Taib and kin
    In the land of the White Haired king, MACC is blind

    Dirty money in not-so-squeaky-clean Singapore




    py

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    Global Witness defends secret video on alleged corruption





    As the nation braces for the 13th general election, the timing of the Global Witness (GW) video 'Inside Malaysia's Shadow State' posted on YouTube on Monday has been questioned by various parties.


    The Malay Mail (TMM) contacted GW's campaigner Alex Halen regarding the video and the UK-based NGO's intention.
    This was what they had to say:


    TMM: How did your good organisation come about to initiating the investigations and producing the video?


    GW: Before we embarked on this project, GW already had strong evidence suggesting a high probability of corruption. It was our assessment we could not get this kind of evidence by overt investigations and that there was a clear public interest in filming these activities secretly.


    Our investigator formally approached the government agency tasked with receiving foreign investors (the Regional Corridor Development Authority) and was quickly forwarded to the cousins of Chief Minister (Abdul Taib Mahmud).


    What do you hope to achieve through the video?


    The film presents serious evidence suggesting corruption and abuse of public office, as well as evidence surrounding tax evasion and skirting Malaysia's company laws. Our aim is to expose this and provide renewed momentum for the government to crack down on corruption (which Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak is publicly committed to).


    Many question the timing of the video with the general election looming around the corner.


    This investigation is wholly and explicitly apolitical. We are not endorsing any particular party but highlighting grave issues of corruption at the heart of government in Sarawak.


    Whoever forms the next government needs to crack down hard on graft and undertake fundamental reforms to stop this kind of abuse of public office, so that Malaysia's people can see for themselves what decision are being made over its resource wealth.


    What about possible legal action (by parties in the video) against your organisation?


    GW has taken all steps to ensure the legal veracity of the allegations. In addition to the extensive video evidence, we have the relevant documents provided by the parties featured in the video and have corroborated the links between the parties through other sources such as company register searches and media reports.


    We performed legal due diligence and asked all parties featured in the publication for comment before publishing, and incorporated a summary of their comments at the end of the video.


    - The Malay Mail
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    Najib leaves Taib video expose to MACC probe


    BY CLARA CHOOI
    ASSISTANT NEWS EDITOR
    MARCH 27, 2013

    The Financial Times reported that the prime minister declined to address the expose by Global Witness directly during the interview. — Reuters pic
    KUALA LUMPUR, March 27 — Barisan Nasional (BN) is “equally as concerned about corruption” as its critics but the problem cannot go away overnight, Datuk Seri Najib Razak said in a Financial Times (FT) interview carried today, in the wake of a damning expose on Sarawak’s timber scandals.


    The international financial daily reported that the prime minister declined to address the expose by Global Witness (GW) directly during the interview, pointing out that Malaysian graftbusters were already investigating the allegations against Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud.


    “Prostitution and corruption are two things that mankind has had to live with for so long. But we are determined to tackle it. It is a scourge. But it is something that will not go away overnight,” he was quoted saying.


    In the article describing the likely heated contest that Najib will face in Election 2013, FT noted that Umno is vulnerable on the topic of corruption, which the federal opposition will use as its key weapon on the campaign trail.


    The business paper pointed to the numerous allegations of bribes allegedly used to secure government contracts, and Malaysia’s ranking of 54 out of 176 countries in Transparency International Malaysia’s (TI-M) 2012 corruption perception index.


    Taib has denied all involvement in the timber scandal. — file picNajib’s pledge to transform and reform the country includes promises to stamp out corruption and be more transparent, but the series of graft exposes involving administrators in his team has continued to hamper progress.


    In the latest revelation by London-based environmental group Global Witness, Taib found himself at the centre of corruption allegations again in a video of a covert investigation on Sarawak’s timber scandals.


    The video, titled “Inside Malaysia’s Shadow State”, showed dealings by GW’s undercover investigators with Taib’s cousins and several other intermediaries to acquire thousands of hectares of forest land, which the group said would displace thousands of indigenous people living there.


    Taib has since played innocent and denied his involvement, and his government has even initiated its own probe to determine if the video was an attempt by the opposition to discredit him ahead of Election 2013, a contest deemed the most critical yet for the ruling BN coalition.


    FT said Najib’s team could well be upstaged by Pakatan Rakyat (PR), the loose coalition of opposition parties PKR, DAP and PAS that has grown significantly in strength and in numbers since its harried formation five years ago.


    PR had a taste of victory in the last March 2008 general election when it robbed BN of its two-thirds parliamentary majority and won in five states and a federal territory.


    Should Najib lead BN to only a narrow win in the next election, the country’s sixth prime minister could face a leadership challenge within Umno.


    But Najib appeared to acknowledge this during the interview, pointing out that he had allowed himself the risk when he changed Umno’s constitution to make it easier to challenge the party’s leadership.


    “I’ve made Umno more democratic, more inclusive. Of course, by doing that I’m putting myself at risk. But I believe that what were doing is good for the country and good for the party,” he was quoted saying.


    Prostitution and corruption are two things that mankind has had to live with for so long. But we are determined to tackle it. It is a scourge. But it is something that will not go away overnight. — Najib Razak
    Economy-wise, FT wrote that Najib has the advantage of incumbency as he led Malaysia through an economic performance last year that, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), had “surpassed expectations”.


    The paper pointed out that the Malaysian economy grew 5.6 per cent, driven by a robust domestic demand and exports of commodities like gas and palm oil.


    Citing HSBC, FT noted that foreign confidence in Najib’s reforms has also seen foreign holdings of Malaysian government bonds soar by 550 per cent to RM215 billion since 2009.


    But the paper pointed to concerns all around over the government’s debt to GDP ratio of 51 per cent, and noted that government revenues were weak.


    Responding to this, Najib said his government will look at widening the tax base, appearing to hint that once polls are done, the highly-awaited goods and services tax may be introduced, after it was shelved following public uproar.


    “I will look at the tax structure, definitely, because we need to enhance the revenue base. The government revenue base has to be predicated on a much stronger footing,” he was quoted saying.
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    Sin City – ‘the jurisdiction of choice by people like us’


    Filed under: Corruption,Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
    Tags: Anak Sarawak Bangsa Malaysia, Corruption, Global Witness, Malaysia Politics, Sarawak Politics, Save Sabah,Save Sarawak, Taib Mahmud



    Tan Wah Piow


    Singapore is “the jurisdiction of choice by people like us”. This boast by rogue lawyer Alvin Chong of Sarawak, caught on video by journalists from London-based Global Witness posing as investors interested in land deals, has gone viral.


    The “people like us” presumably includes the minions and their corrupt politicians in Asia, as well as tax dodgers, and criminals who erstwhile had sheltered their ill-gotten wealth in Switzerland.


    The stealth video exposes not just the rampant corruption in Sarawak, it also highlights how virgin forests are stolen from the people, and the arrogant contempt for the indigenous people by the perpetrators of such crimes. Viewers are universally shocked by the revelations.


    Singapore, being the “jurisdiction of choice” where the corrupt deal would be executed, is implicated, not just by association – but by providing the legal framework which made such crimes possible.


    So extraordinary is the expose that the video caricature of this rogue lawyer gleefully boasting about his corrupt exploits will become the defining image of corruption, deforestation, and the role of Singapore as the Sin City “of choice” for the likes of Alvin Chong.


    This video has devastating consequences to those in power in Sarawak and indeed, the whole of Malaysia. It has also attracted worldwide attention, especially amongst the burgeoning environmental lobbies, and green movements and every organization in the West campaigning for transparency in financial transactions. Anti-tax evasion NGOs will now take a keen critical interest in Singapore as a financial centre.


    The imagery of idyllic innocent tropical rain forests of Sarawak being traded for the glitzy cityscapes of Singapore is such a powerful contrast that Singapore Inc will now become an object environmentalists and anti-capitalists campaigners love to hate. This certainly is not the image of the global city that the people in Singapore cherish. For this unfortunate consequence, the Singapore government has a great deal to answer for.


    Alvin Chong no doubt merely articulated what everyone suspects for a long time. But coming from the horse’s mouth stung Singapore Inc where it hurts because it needs to maintain the semblance of respectability in the international stage, especially before the IMF, Europe and USA. Such expose potentially could scare away lucrative foreign funds and super rich depositors if they become worried of the stigma of banking in Singapore.


    It is also an unfortunate coincidence that in the same week as the expose was released, London Guardian newspaper carried a report of the resignation of French budget minister over his alleged secret account in Singapore from funds he was said to have hastily transferred from Switzerland. As noted in a Reuters report last year, “as cash-strapped Western governments increase their efforts to improve tax collection and Swiss banks are forced to open up their books, Singapore is facing renewed accusations that some of the funds flowing in may be illicit.”


    Clearly, if the illicit money from Sarawak did find its way into Singapore as Alvin Chong confessed, the MAS (Monetary Authority of Singapore) would have to account to international bodies such as the IMF as to how it could happen despite its claim of having put in place anti-money laundering procedures. This could have serious ramifications to the integrity of the banking and finance industry of Singapore which provides more than 120,000 (5.5% of overall employment) jobs in over 700 financial institutions , accounting for more than 11% of Singapore’s GDP (2010 figures).


    For an expose of such seriousness, the official Singapore response is certainly lackluster. The Ministry of Finance press statement denied that it did ever fail to cooperate with the Malaysian tax authorities when matters of tax evasion were raised.


    The Ministry of Finance, however, kept a deafening silence on the central issue of whether illicit corrupt money had found its way into Singapore. Their failure to make any attempt to contact Global Witness to edit out any aspects of the video which are damaging to Singapore’s reputation is unusual.


    The normally thin-skin Singapore government and their ministers had for decades indulged in libel suits against their critics in the Singapore courts. Suddenly the Singapore Inc officialdom has grown the hide of a rhino. The MOF and the MAS could, for example, seek an injunction in London court against Global Witness if Singapore’s reputation is tarnished by the insinuation in the stealth video. That will guarantee it an international platform and opportunity to protest its innocence.


    Unfortunately, the likelihood of the Singapore government doing anything against Global Witness in London is realistically slim for obvious reason, yet the failure to defend its “honour” remains a lacuna.


    The dear leaders in Singapore are aware that as a member of the international community, and the IMF, combating money laundering is, in the words of Min Zhu, the deputy managing director of the IMF, not only a “moral imperative, but also an economic need.”.


    The laundering of corrupt funds from the Suhartos, Marcos, Chinese, Indians, Thais, Burmese etc benefits the few in Singapore, and lend comfort to the corrupt. But in the long term, Singapore is inadvertently helping to sow the seeds of social revolutions in those countries as taxes and funds from corruption, which could otherwise be deployed to pay for health, education and industrial developments in the respective countries, find their way into the bank coffers in Singapore.


    As a tax haven, it transforms illicit cash into respectable capital. In the process, the local economies where the illicit funds originate, are drained dry, environment destroyed, and people impoverished. This is the reason behind the IMF economic argument to combat money laundering. It is therefore the height of hypocrisy for politicians to, on the one hand, decry the political and social instability in the region; while at the same time, be happy to act as the conduit for such proceeds of crime.
    In the changing international mood and intolerance towards laundering of illicit money, Singapore’s quest to replace Switzerland is therefore regressive. Singapore is already on the radar of the American Human Rights Watch which accused it of laundering billions of dollars of Burma’s state gas revenues hidden from national accounts. [HRW 2011]


    If Singapore’s future success as a global finance center depends on it’s ability to attract funds of questionable provenance, then at best, it could only take pride in transforming the little red dot into Sin City. That could be tremendously lucrative for Singapore Inc, but not necessary for Singapore. The trillions may be in the coffers of Singapore banks, but to the losers in the region, the island state is merely “handling stolen goods”.


    I am sure the over 120,000 Singaporeans in the banking and financial services, and the corporate lawyers have the intellect to restructure Singapore as a progressive financial centre without having to bid for illicit funds. Other than paying lip service, the current government lacks the moral commitment, courage and political vision for a new world order whereby the economies of the region could be free of distortion and stagnation caused by corruption and tax evasions.


    The Sarawak expose poses a challenge to Singaporeans to rethink the Sin City model.
    py

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    Dayak businessmen up in arms over Sarawak video expose


    BY DEBRA CHONG
    ASSISTANT NEWS EDITOR
    MARCH 31, 2013

    Screenshot of one of the scenes in the video clip as released by London-based activist group Global Witness.
    b's chokehold on the state.
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    What does this say about the mentality of the BN leaders? They think they own the country.

    Said Telang Usan assemblyman Dennis Ngau: “This poses a real danger and could have a devastating impact on BN.

    “We in BN cannot ignore the issue and hope it will go away. We cannot assume that it will not have any impact on the election.



    “The DVDs and VCDs are small and they are easily smuggled into the interior and distributed widely.
    BN nervous about video backlash

    [COLOR=#707070 !important]FMT Staff and Joseph Tawie
    | April 2, 2013
    [/COLOR]
    The Global Witness' video's Iban version will be the opposition's biggest weapon to convince the rural community to turn its backs on Taib Mahmud and Barisan Nasional.
    KUCHING: Sarawak Barisan Nasional component leaders, ministers and MPs are increasingly nervous about the Dayak backlash from a covertly recorded video by international pressure group Global Witness.


    The opposition has since reproduced the 16-minute video in Iban with Bahasa Malaysia subtitles. Thousands of these DVDs and VCDs are expected to find their way into the Iban heartland.


    In the video, Global Witness posed as investors and video recorded their meeting with landowners – Fatimah and Norliah Abdul Rahman Yakub – and two lawyers whose “candour and explicit” explanations on the business practices in Sarawak and how to dodge taxes had left viewers stumped.


    Fatimah and Norliah, who are Taib cousins, were recorded as having said that it was easy for their company to get state and native customary lands from the government and sell them for huge profits. The sisters had also described the Dayak community as “squatters” and having “low intelligence” and as such were “easily manipulated”.


    In the upcoming general election, this video and its Iban version will be the opposition’s biggest weapon to convince the rural community to turn its backs on Chief Minister Taib Mahmud and Barisan Nasional.


    If the 2011 state polls are any measure, then the opposition Pakatan Rakyat is on an upward swing and the video will be the much-needed gust to see them pocket up to eight parliamentary seats.


    Party insiders, however, are confident that the numbers could reach 12.


    But Taib is least concerned. After all, didn’t he sweep aside Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s scorn for him and deliver all 35 seats held by Pesaka Bumiptera Bersatu in the 2011 state polls?


    He is confident that his PBB will do it again and retain the 14 Malay-Melanau majority parliamentary seats allocated.


    History is on his side.


    Fed-up Taib


    PBB has never lost a single parliamentary seat since 1991. Even the leadership fallout between him and his uncle Abdul Rahman Yakub in 1987 did not affect the party or for that matter Barisan Nasional’s sway in Sarawak.


    The 13th parliamentary election will be no different.


    PBB will keep its 14 seats and when push comes to shove, will be in a pole position to negotiate deals with or without his BN partners.


    But it won’t be the same for the rest.


    Unlike in previous polls, there’s a feeling in the power corridors here that it will be a case of each-party-for-himself.


    A fed-up Taib is no longer interested in the federal brokers who are engaging his “team mates” directly and stirring the hornet’s nest.


    He knows every one is double-dealing and that includes his own PBB people and the Global Witness video is only the beginning in the final push to the polls.


    BN has as its Sarawak partners PBB, Sarawak United Peoples Party (SUPP), Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS)and Sarawak Democratic Progressive Party (SPDP).


    Aside from PBB, SUPP has seven seats, PRS has six and SPDP four.


    And the video has already stirred SUPP, PRS and SPDP representations on the ground.


    DAP’s weapon


    Thus far none of the party leaders have outwardly reacted to the video although several Dayak NGOs including the “powerful” Sarawak Dayak National Union, Sarawak Dayak Graduates Association and the Dayak Chambers of Commerce have raged against the defamatory content.


    “Perhaps they agree with the remarks that the Dayaks are poor, of low intelligence and can be bought over easily with RM30 or RM40,” said an opposition leader who did not wish to be named.


    The BN leadership’s silence has only fuelled rumblings on the ground among party members and supporters.


    SUPP is the most worried and is nervously silent despite being challenged by DAP to make its stand clear on the issue of corruption, abuse of power and cronyism as contained in the video clip.


    In the last state election, it was these Taib-linked issues that DAP exploited to win 13 out of the 19 seats allocated to SUPP.


    The biggest casualty was surely SUPP president George Chan, a six-term assemblyman. He lost his Piasau seat to a rookie.


    Now with the video clip as one of its election arsenals, DAP is ready to go to “war” with SUPP in the Chinese majority constituencies of Stampin, Bandar Kuching, Sarikei, Lanang, Sibu and Miri.


    State DAP secretary Chong Chieng Jen said DAP is very confident that the voters will back the party in these constituencies.


    In Julau, the people have come out in fury to protest against the secret disposal of their 5,000 hectares of their NCR land to Taib’s family members as detailed in the video.


    Real danger


    PKR leader in the area, Andy Wong, has also made reports to police and Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).


    More protests and police reports will be made in the next few days.


    As the heat rises over the revelations, the future looks precarious for incumbents in hot seats.


    Said Telang Usan assemblyman Dennis Ngau: “This poses a real danger and could have a devastating impact on BN.


    “We in BN cannot ignore the issue and hope it will go away. We cannot assume that it will not have any impact on the election.


    “The DVDs and VCDs are small and they are easily smuggled into the interior and distributed widely.


    “We need to counter to prevent the issue from harming the BN’s chances of winning in the general election.”
    py

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