Selective Anti-Graft?

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S’wak DAP chief calls for MACC to investigate Taib’s wealth.

Sarawak DAP chairperson Chong Chieng Jen has called on the MACC to investigate the assets of the state’s former governor Abdul Taib Mahmud.

“At least a request for asset declaration should be made by the MACC against them (Taib’s family) so that we Sarawakians know how much wealth has been collected throughout his administration.

“Therefore, I once again call on the MACC to take action. That’s our basic right to know,” the Stampin MP said in his debate on the royal address in the Dewan Rakyat today.

This comes amid the anti-graft agency investigating the family of former ministers such as Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Daim Zainuddin and ordering them to declare their assets to the MACC.

Chong, now head of a beleaguered opposition knocked around by the misuse of misappropriated wealth, is right.

Taib’s corruption was an open book laid out before everybody’s eyes.  He was a salaried official who spent his entire career occupying positions where he was forbidden by the Constitution from other sources of income. Yet, he was as rich as Croesus, famous for his fleet of Rolls Royces and ostentatious living.

Much of the wealth was held at second hand, through his family. For example, Sarawak Report obtained the ownership documents for his North American property empire (that includes the key Northwestern HQ building of the FBI in Seattle).

The company, Sakti, was owned ostensibly between five children and brothers. However, a secret side-agreement displayed they in turn held 50% in trust for him, putting him in charge.

Insiders informed Sarawak Report that Taib kept a trove of such documents relating to his global portfolio of family assets locked in a domestic safe. Who controls those documents now? A ferocious court battle is now underway between a foreign second wife and Taib’s descendants.

A huge swathe of those assets were in the form of plantation licences and land titles (confiscated from native areas) handed to members of his extended family at nominal rates. Many have been subsequently sold for enormous profit.

He also bought grand properties for himself, including his residences at Demak Jaya and swathes of valuable development land in Sibu worth tens of millions of ringgit, that were re-gazetted under his name as recently as 2019.  All this is quite apart from the distributions of lucrative state contracts to his own family companies and the ‘privatisation’ of state assets under his own concerns.

The forces of law and order should first ascertain how these alienated public assets could legally belong to the Taib family in the first place, particularly since they are in danger of ending up in Turkish companies controlled by a Syrian lady who is accused of abusing her domestic powers by the family concerned.

If this government is willing to demand asset declarations of others from Taib’s generation of political plunderers, then why should the Taib family – the mentor to them all – be excluded simply, it would seem, for political convenience?

Sarawak’s present leadership is not tainted by Taib, so what prevents the cleansing broom from reaching in to East Malaysia in order to retain public assets that ought never to have been purloined?

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