Don’t Let Taib Grab The Governorship!

Showing the strain - Taib's 'healthy glow' has clearly evaporated under the strain as he attempts to cling on
Showing the strain – Taib’s office has instructed journalists to stop covering this top story until informed of further announcements! 

The fact that Taib did not move swiftly and decisively in his bid to grab the governorship is a sign of a weaker position than he would like

All this dithering and delay over announcing the details of his move and successor means that he is still negotiating desperately with BN to shore up a more powerful situation for himself.

After all, the poodles in his party (PBB) immediately allowed him two highly improper and undemocratic indulgences, the right to name his own successor and to be nominated as their sole candidate for governor.

So, the reason he has not got on with it must be because he is still bargaining with KL.

Bottom line, he wants the Governorship with full powers, plus a crucial immunity from prosecution over all his corruption. He wants to continue to call all the shots in the state, in order to protect his mega-projects and business interests.

Maybe he is offering to accept Najib’s choice of Abang Johari for puppet CM in return?

But, the delay signals disagreements behind the scenes and the longer people look at the situation the more unacceptable it clearly is.

Scandal tainted Taib should be banned from being governor

Opposition leaders and NGO observers are already pointing out that to appoint Taib as head of state would not only be shameful, given his blatant and massive corruption, but it would be unconstitutional.

DAP’s Padungan assemblyperson Wong King Wei fired the opening salvo last week, as the first clear rumours started to swirl and circulate that Taib was finally going to make his retirement announcement.

Wong pointed out that such a move would be a violation of the constitution because of the Chief Minister’s extensive business interests in the state (not to mention those of his close family).

Company Director in Mesti Bersatu, which has numerous interests in Sarawak, including land-grabbing concern, Delta Padi
Company Director in Mesti Bersatu, which has numerous interests in Sarawak, including land-grabbing concern, Delta Padi

In particular he referred to Taib’s Directorship of the company Mesti Bersatu Sdn Bhd, which was originally exposed by this website.

The politician pointed out that under the Sarawak State Constitution neither the Chief Minister nor the Governor should hold any office in a private company or engage in private enterprise:

“Taib Mahmud should explain to the general public his directorship in Mesti Bersatu Sdn Bhd and how this is not in violation of Article 6(5) of the Sarawak state constitution.

 “Clearly Article 6(5) states that the chief minister shall not hold any office of profit and shall not actively engage in any enterprise,” [Wong King Wei]

Wong’s message therefore was that Taib should certainly resign from the office of Chief Minister, but should not be eligible for Governor either.

Taib is a significant shareholder, along with other family members
Taib is a significant shareholder, along with other family members linked to late brother Arip

The NGO, Bruno Manser Fund, which has done extensive work on the web of Taib family companies in Sarawak, has now waded in with some further details and added impediments to the concept of the governorship for Taib.

In a press release issued a few hours ago the NGO spelt out the extensive list of money making enterprises associated with Mesti Bersatu, listing no less than 18 companies in which it holds shares.

One of these, Delta Padi Sdn Bhd, has come under fire again this week for violating the rights of native peoples and grabbing their lands (a story originally exposed by Sarawak Report).

“There is ample evidence that Taib Mahmud is engaged in illegal business activities both in Malaysia and overseas. All these commercial activities by a head of government are criminal in nature and will not allow the Malaysian King (Agong) to appoint him as Governor. As party to the UN Convention against Corruption, Malaysia has a strong international obligation to fight corruption by public officials.”

As of today, Taib Mahmud is listed as a director and major shareholder of Mesti Bersatu Sdn Bhd, a Malaysian investment holding with interests in 18 Malaysian companies. Mesti Bersatu has a significant stake in Bakraz Development Sdn Bhd, Bakraz Holdings Sdn Bhd, Bakraz Properties Sdn Bhd, Borsarmulu Park Enterprise Sdn Bhd, Borsarmulu Park Management Sdn Bhd, Borsarmulu Resort Sdn Bhd, CMS Premix (Miri) Sdn Bhd, Delta Padi Sdn Bhd, Kenyalang Cergas Sdn Bhd, Kumpulan Parabena Sdn Bhd, Lanco Corporation Sdn Bhd, Lanco Plantation Sdn Bhd., Majupun Sdn Bhd, Miri Property Holding Sdn Bhd, Noble Strike Sdn Bhd, Pelita Towerview Sdn Bhd, Sanyan Development Sdn Bhd and Sg. Dalam Development Sdn Bhd. Last week, indigenous rights spokesman Nicholas Mujah revealed that Taib-linked company Delta Padi Snd Bhd, had grabbed 28,000 hectares of indigenous land for oil palm plantations.” [Bruno Manser Fund press release 10/2/14]

As the Swiss NGO rightly points out, this issue raises the issue of the appointment of Taib to the status of an international scandal, especially if it involves the likely granting of immunity for the next four years.

Quite simply, how can the Malaysian King (Agong) and Government even consider appointing such a man, when he is still being officially investigated by the country’s own anti-corruption authorities for blatant and massive abuses of power and the siphoning of billions in public money into his own family accounts?

It would be an international scandal to appoint Taib

Duty to uphold the constitution. Deciding to appoint Taib would put the Agong in an intolerable position, given his duties to the people
Duty to uphold the constitution. Deciding to appoint Taib would put the Agong in an intolerable position, given his duties to the people

If BN and the King of Malaysia were to go ahead now and appoint Taib as head of state in Sarawak, they will be showing their dirty linen to the entire world and proving they are unable to bring this rogue kleptocrat to heel.

And the country would be officially branded as hopelessly corrupt, world wide.  What a burden to place on the Agong, who is duty bound to uphold the constitution!

Will the MACC (Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission) investigations be hastily shelved, as part and parcel of the deal?

What an obvious and public disgrace that would be, but of course that condition must be near the top of Taib’s bargaining list!

As all this off-stage haggling and manoeuvring continues, slowly but surely, voices of opinion are beginning to speak up about the sheer intolerableness of the situation.

Protest and dissent is beginning to break through the polite media praise of Taib at the time of his resignation announcement.

Veteran news journalist Christina Suntai, now a commentator on Radio Free Sarawak,has pointed out the intolerable power the scandal-torn politician stands to retain if appointed:

“It is already obvious, he will be the one who is going to choose the person to replace him as CM. He will pull all the strings, like a puppet master.

As governor he will have the executive power to veto or overrule anything just like the Agong and also be able to declare emergency rule.”[Christina Suntai]

So much so, that Taib has even built a large administrative wing to the Governor’s Palace in order to carry on managing Sarawak in anticipation!

What happened to democracy?

Elephant in the room - how does Taib explain CMS?
Elephant in the room – how does Taib explain CMS?

None of this should be happening, because in a proper democracy (and Malaysia’s PM claims the country is a shining example) due process and elections should be taking place to consider Taib’s successor.

The leader of PBB should be the subject of party elections; the leader of the BN coalition in Sarawak should be subject to inter-party talks and the appointment of a new governor should be conducted at least within the laws of the constitution, which rules out Sarawak’s top businessman, Taib Mahmud.

As BMF also points out in its press release the glaring corruption surrounding Taib’s intimate connections with Sarawak’s largest company CMS, recipient of endless public contracts from the Chief Minister and holder of key monopolies in the state, such as the licence to quarry cement.

2012 CMS Annual Report
2012 CMS Annual Report

The NGO points out that not only do Taib’s own inner family members still officially own at least 40% of the shares in this vast conglomerate (having supposedly divested from over 80%) but the largest single private shareholder in CMS remains Laila Taib, the Chief Minister’s own long deceased first wife!

The biggest company shareholder, Majaharta is jointly owned by Taib’s two daughters Jamilah and Hanifah, and his sons, who direct the company, have around the same number of shares each as well.

Ownership of CMS and scores of other companies in Sarawak have brought the Taib family wealth at least in excess of USD$80million points out the NGO.

The people of the state have a right to expect the Malaysian king and government to uphold the constitution and the law.  This surely dictates that Taib should be banned from the governorship and properly investigated for grand corruption?


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