Ini Kali Lah, if toothless MACC acts -- Taib Memang Kena!






GUEST COLUMNISTS


Thursday, 21 March 2013 admin-s






Taib survived the 1987 elections and at least seven million hectares of timber concessions allegedly came to be controlled subsequently by Taib's family, henchmen and cronies (of which no less than five million hectares came under the domination of the top five robber baron timber lords who had reimbursed the state government money used for the elections).


Joe Fernandez


The Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) has been uncharacteristically quick to say that they will look into video reports apparently implicating long-serving Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud in allegedly shady land deals which, from all accounts, have resulted in considerable lost revenues to the state and Federal coffers while virtually robbing the affected kampung folks of their Native land. http://bit.ly/16ESEVU


http://www.globalwitness.org/insideshadowstate/


The Global Witness’s investigative reporting has turned up evidence on film which the authorities will be unable to ignore or sweep this time – Radio Free Sarawak is already going to town with the expose video -- under the carpet:


(1) that Taib abused his considerable powers in illegally seizing land from the Natives and allocating them to family members, among others, for only a modest premium payable to the state government;


(2) that such land was subsequently sold by his family members and/or others to certain other parties for hefty sums;


(3) that only 10 per cent of the purchase price was allegedly paid in Sarawak and the rest in Singapore where a “China Wall” helps to evade the Real Property Gains Tax (RPGT) in Malaysia;


(4) that documents were reportedly “falsified” by the lawyers involved – created is the word used -- to show that the lands were held majority by a simple villager picked at random but only on paper. In fact such properties were majority owned by foreigners, an infringement of the laws in Malaysia. If the lands seized were state land occupied by squatters, as claimed by Taib’s cousins in the video, why the need to register in the name of a simple villager?; and


(5) that Taib allegedly received kickbacks indirectly from such deals.

Singapore will have to probe Global Witness video expose


The MACC cannot ignore that tax evasion for one is a serious offence and that the state government too may have lost in terms of premiums. All these revenues lost would have to be recovered.


The police and the state government too would have to probe that landowners lost their properties in the said deals.


There’s also the issue of circumvention of the laws on locals having majority ownership of land. These lands, now in the hands of plantation companies, would have to be returned by the Court and/or the state government to its rightful owners. The companies can only go after whoever misled them into purchasing the said lands. However, they themselves are guilty of circumventing land ownership laws and being a party to tax evasion.


The authorities in Sarawak and Singapore, the latter priding itself on having a squeaky clean reputation, have to bring in the two Taib cousins, the lawyer, another party, all featured in the Global Witness video evidence, and other parties named by these suspects.


Already, the Sarawak Bar has publicly pledged to investigate the lawyers and/or lawyers featured/named in the Global Witness video.

Taib made cousin Norah MP showing no feud with Rahman


Taib will have to be roped in for his statement and the Government Departments concerned investigated and Abdul Rahman Yakub, Taib's predecessor maternal uncle, called in as a material witness known to the errant parties.


Taib, in his defence, pointed to his widely-publicised “estranged relationship” with his uncle and implied that he couldn’t therefore be handing out favours to his cousins, Rahman’s children, also his mortal enemies.


Taib appears to be blaming Rahman for the Global Witness report. That theory doesn’t hold water unless everything featured in the Global Witness video was play acting in a giant conspiracy of sorts against Taib and in the process thereby implicating themselves in criminal wrong-doing.


Yet, there are credible reports based on documents that at the height of the so-called feud, Taib was busy giving out and/or renewing timber concessions to his cousins, the daughters of Rahman.


One daughter, cousin Norah Abdul Rahman, is now even tipped to take over from Taib as Chief Minister, according to Rahman apologists.


How did Norah become Tanjung Manis MP if there's a feud between Taib and Rahman, as the Chief Minister claims? Tanjung Manis is the Halal Hub of Sarawak.

Rahman laid out the plunder of Sarawak plan for Taib


The 1987 Ming Court Affair, cited by Taib apologists in his defence, was not the result of any so-called feud between Taib and Rahman.


The Ming Court Affair - I was there -- was the result of the Malays in the Bumiputera wing of Taib’s Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) rebelling against him for not doing enough for the Malay economy (read PBB Malays). The wing includes Muslim Melanau, Taib’s community after his Christian Melanau grandfather converted to Islam. The Sarawak Malays are mainly Bidayuh living along the coast of the 1st Division and mainly Iban living along the coasts of the other Divisions who converted to Islam several hundred years ago.


The Pesaka wing is Dayak including non-Muslim Melanau.


Between 1981 and 1987, Taib had evidently managed to antagonize PBB rebel members by one-sidedly supporting and giving contracts and concessions to a new group of crony capitalists who were mostly Foochow Chinese, from or close to the Sarawak United People’s Party (Supp), and mainly involved in the timber and construction industries.


Ironically, it was his uncle who had started this trend, to become Chief Minister in 1970. He had to depend on the support of Supp and thereby thwart the James Wong-led Sarawak National Party’s (Snap) attempt to come back to power in the state.

Rahman bought time for Taib to call for snap elections


The PBB rebels made the cardinal mistake of consulting Rahman on their plans to throw out his nephew by introducing a no confidence motion against him in the state assembly.


Rahman, to buy time for his nephew and thereby arousing the suspicions of quite a few rebels, suggested that they be led by him and meet secretly at the Ming Court Hotel in Kuala Lumpur to plan their moves properly. In the meantime, it emerged that Rahman quickly tipped off Taib who got the Governor’s consent to dissolve the state assembly for a snap election and thereby stave off the no confidence motion. The rebels, growing uneasy in KL, wanted to return quickly to Kuching but Rahman kept stringing them along to buy time.


The rebels under the label Permas, joined by Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS) led by Leo Moggie Anak Irok, felt betrayed by Rahman but had to put on a brave front in public. Privately, they were kicking themselves since they were far away from the state assembly in Kuching where they had planned to introduce the no confidence motion against Taib. There was no reason for them to assemble in KL for any meeting.


Taib obtained 28 seats in the snap election that followed, while the Opposition managed a credible 20 i.e. PBDS 15 and Permas 5.


Taib was saved by the seats of Supp, a party which he subsequently tried to neutralise by inviting PBDS to return to the state Barisan Nasional (BN).

Taib’s road to wealth unlimited with 1987 state election


After the elections, Permas leader Nor Tahir's house in Satok, Kuching, was raided by Federal authorities who found and confiscated more than RM90 million in unaccounted for cash. Nor Tahir was a former Forestry Minister, a post taken over by Taib. Nor Tahir passed away not long after that of an apparent heart attack.


It appears that some RM150 million of state government money shifted out from Bank Utama after nomination day and may have been used by PBB to fund his election campaign. One deal allegedly struck was that five timber barons would each pay fork out RM30 million, to reimburse the RM 150 million, if BN won the elections. In return they would not only get to keep the concessions they already had but they would also be given many more - and Taib would also make much more, the RM30 million each being just a small down-payment.


Taib survived the 1987 elections and at least seven million hectares of timber concessions allegedly came to be controlled subsequently by Taib's family, henchmen and cronies (of which no less than five million hectares came under the domination of the top five robber baron timber lords who had reimbursed the state government money used for the elections).

Taib may have to step down before 13th General Election


The so-called feud between Taib and Rahman, the Ming Court Affair revealed, was a sandiwara (drama) to identify their political enemies and eliminate them. Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad himself once openly referred to the so-called Taib-Rahman feud as a sandiwara. The Democratic Action Party (Dap) and the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) are beating the drums of war on this theme in the wake of the Global Witness expose video.


Many Malays, caught up in the so-called Taib-Rahman feud, were eliminated by this sandiwara.


Now the karmic cycle has turned full circle, and Taib once again faces the grim prospect of yet another MACC probe against him.


It won’t be that easy for him this time to get off Scott free as there are many names, including family, implicated with him from Sarawak to Singapore and beyond. If he’s innocent, what about the others involved including family?

Heads will have to roll after Global Witness video expose


If the others are found guilty, how can he be innocent since everything, advertently or inadvertently, began with him approving the land deals at stake?


There’s every possibility that Taib would have to step down as Chief Minister if the 13th General Elections are further delayed. He has once again, as in the 2011 state election when the BN lost several seats to Dap, PKR and an independent, become a hot potato and a definite political liability.


MACC, the Sarawak state government, and the Singapore authorities would not need too much time to get to the bottom of the matter and bring charges against all the errant parties.


The results of the Sarawak Bar Council probe are expected to be known within a matter of weeks.

Joe Fernandez is a mature student of law and an educationist, among others, who loves to write especially Submissions for Clients wishing to Act in Person. He feels compelled, as a semi-retired journalist, to put pen to paper -- or rather the fingers to the computer keyboard -- whenever something doesn't quite jell with his weltanschauung (worldview). He shuttles between points in the Golden Heart of Borneo formed by the Sabah west coast, Labuan, Brunei, northern Sarawak and the watershed region in Borneo where three nations meet.