Saturday, November 27, 2010

SARAWAK - Taib Share Shock !

Taib Share Shock ! – Exclusive

SARAWAKREPORT

Thursday, November 25th, 2010 GMT

Royal Mulu Hotel - Chief Minister owns shares in this state-funded enterprise

Sarawak Report can reveal that the Chief Minister, Abdul Taib Mahmud, has a major personal shareholding in Sarawak’s highly controversial Royal Mulu Resort, a project that has received huge injections of cash from the State. This means that, as both Chief Minister and Finance Minister, Taib has authorised the diversion of large sums of public money straight into his own pocket.

As State Resources and Planning Minister, Taib was also responsible for the forced acquisition of a large area of Native Customary Lands from the indigenous Berawan tribe to build the resort, for which the tribespeople received virtually no compensation. Our evidence therefore further exposes him for having authorised this land-snatch for his own direct benefit.

His shareholding is in a company that was incorporated as recently as November 2007, Mesti Bersatu Sdn Bhd. This in turn has a 50% shareholding of the Taib/Mahmud family company Kenyalang Cergas, one of the main shareholders of Borsamulu Resorts Bhd (BRSB). BRSB was handed the ownership and lucrative management contract for what was once a state-owned National Park, thanks to a series of decisions by Taib’s own government starting in 1991. The management contract is paid for by the taxpayer!

In the money! - a decade ago the Geneids had nothing, now they are the toast of Malaysia's Tatler Ball 2010!

The other major beneficiaries and shareholders of the Royal Mulu Resort are members of his family, including his sister Raziah, her third husband Robert Geneid and the family of his late brother Arip Mahmud. Taib Mahmud has personally accused the Berawan people of being “greedy” for refusing to hand over their lands for ‘development’. Their peaceful protests in the 1990s were brutally put down by army and police and their leaders were imprisoned. Deprived of their territories, these communities are now impoverished and hungry and few people, apart from the Mahmud family, will have difficulty in discerning where the true greed lies.

This time it’s on record

The significance of this official confirmation of the Chief Minister’s own shareholding lies in the fact that Taib has normally sought to disguise his acquisitions and shareholdings in an attempt to avoid widespread allegations of corruption. He habitually uses members of his own family to hold shares on his behalf. Thus, the names of his many brothers and sisters, his late wife, his four children, nieces, nephews, cousins and in-laws are prominent as key shareholders in most of Sarawak’s important businesses.

Insiders have also told Sarawak Report that the elderly Chief Minister has employed a number of other devious methods to keep control of such companies until he is able to extract his wealth and invest it secretly abroad. These methods include forcing his nominees to sign undated resignation letters and share transfer forms, which he can use at any time to force their removal and employ somebody else as his front man or ‘nominee’!

Likewise, Sarawak Report has copies of US documents showing that shares which were publicly registered as belonging to family members were in fact secretly ‘held in trust’ for the Chief Minister himself.

Chief Minister’s name is in black and white in the Register of Companies

In black and white - Chief Minister Taib Mahmud declares his interest!

Mesti Bersatu Sdn Bhd therefore forms a notable exception, in that Taib declares his financial interest in black and white in Malaysia’s Company Register. It is likely to have been an oversight on his part and a sign of his growing confidence that he can do what he likes in Sarawak and get away with it.

He is registered both as a Director and a Shareholder of Mesti Bersatu and holds 400,000 shares out of the 2,300,000 total shares issued for the company. The other shareholders are his late brother Arif’s three wives (condoned under the Muslim faith) and two grown up daughters. At RM 1.00 per share, Taib’s shareholding represents an outlay of 400,000 ringgit.

Cheesy tourist welcome - the local tribespeople put on embarrassing display at the Royal Mulu Hotel (from the Geneid family facebook album)

The company is registered as having ‘No Operation’ at it’s Kuching address, but in fact owns half the shares in Kenyalang Cergas Bhd, which was set up in 1992 as a direct Shareholder of the Royal Mulu resort. The other Directors and Shareholders of Kenyalang Cergas are Taib’s sister Raziah and her current husband Robert Geneid, who were behind the original development of the resort and act as the main directors of the company. Crony timber tycoons the Yaw family, the owners of Samling, have also put money into the project, along with the architect from Singapore. Crucially the Sarawak State Government has also taken up an interest in the venture and has usefully pumped in large sums of life-saving injections of cash from the taxpayer over the years. That involvement was of course thanks to Taib Mahmud.

All thanks to Taib!

Raziah and Robert Geneid reportedly came up with the plan to develop Mulu, which is famous for its caves, in the early 90s, when Raziah was still married to her 2nd husband. In 1991, thanks to Taib Mahmud the Chief Minister, a decision was made by the Sarawak State Government to alienate land acquired in the National Park for a pitiful sum of RM 80 per acre from a local headman to their new family company the Royal Mulu Resort. The Geneids had no money or hotel experience, but Taib’s brother Arip, who had made money from another family venture Achipeligo Shipping (which has now developed into a separate major scandal over the allegations of billions made in timber kickbacks) invested in the venture.

Berawan land - who cares?

Given that the Chief Minister had alienated profitable state land into the hands of his unqualified sister and brother, the project was from the start corrupt. Even more corrupt has been the continuing support by the state of Sarawak, through the Sarawak Economic Development Corporation, of what has turned out to be a lamentably unprofitable venture. In the name of ‘developing tourism’ the SEDC has been paying what appear to be astronomical ‘management fees’ to the Geneids and their co-shareholders for running their own hotel investment!

This generosity has turned what would have been a disastrous investment and a failed venture into a major money-spinner for Raziah and Robert (the son of an Australian fruit-vendor) who appear to have turned the resort into something of a family forest playground, judging from family facebook sites. Indeed few actual tourists go there and most tourist guides warn visitors that the small sized National Park has long since been stripped of its wildlife by the effects of Taib’s logging activities in all the surrounding areas.

It is also, of course, thanks to Taib that awkward complaints by the local population have been so firmly suppressed by the full force of the state and police. Thus, while the Geneids party in luxury (arriving at their holiday hideaway via a specially-built airstrip that involved blowing off the top of a sacred mountain and taking more of the land that belonged to the natives), the local people have received none of the benefits of the much-trumpeted ’progress and development’.

Forest fun - canopy walk at Mulu. Berawan guides are not permitted

The Berawan tribe have now returned to court to fight the company’s forced acquisition (thanks to Taib’s government) of yet more of the NCR lands for a second extension of the resort as part of a deal to develop it further, in collaboration with the US-owned Marriott Hotel chain. So far they have received no compensation or recognition of their claims from Taib, despite the fact that previous governments did recognise their ownership of the land.

The Marriott Hotel chain appears to have no shame in participating in this deal, having already collaborated with Raziah Mahmud in developing the Marriott in Miri, again thanks to favours and land alienated by the government of Abdul Taib Mahmud.

However, Unesco which attributed World Heritage status to the site in 2000 has already signalled its own worries about the situation at Mulu. Its 2008 report into the management of World Heritage Sites raised the management of the park as an issue of concern. It states that the Chief Minister’s plan to flood great areas of Sarawak with dams could impact on the site and further points out that there have been reports that ”the benefits of tourism and World Heritage designation are not available to the indigenous groups. If these reports were confirmed” UNESCO states “this lack of engagement of local communities could threaten the effectiveness of management and impact the integrity of the property”. The UNESCO report requires reassurances by 2010, which can hardly have been forthcoming.

Local poor are dependent on tourist tips

Despite the usual bragging about ‘progress’ from AbdulTaib Mahmud, the ‘development’ of Mulu has predictably provided no compensation and little in the way of jobs for the local people. The Berawan are apparently banned from being guides in the park they know so well. In return these people have lost their lands and livelihoods and no longer have their hunting grounds. The Geneids and their government partners have therefore provided virtually nothing for the people who they have displaced, many of whom are starving hungry.

Progress and development at Royal Mulu - for the natives that is.

The once nomadic Penan of the area have likewise lost their hunting grounds, due to Taib-sponsored logging all around the actual park (which is on high ground and therefore does not have very interesting trees) and they are now living in shanty settlements on the fringes of the Berawan lands. Far from enjoying the fruits of modernisation they survive from making baskets for the few tourists who come to look at them from the resort hotel. So poor was the standard of housing provided by the Geneids in this ‘progress and development’ scheme that one such tourist himself put up the money to pay for the removal of mosquito-breeding swamps from beneath the settlement’s main longhouse, which had been a major discomfort and health hazard.

So how much has the Sarawak State paid to the Taib family to run Mulu?

Nevertheless, the taxpayer is still being forced to pay substantial sums to the Geneids in the name of ‘developing tourism’, for managing their own venture! The big question is exactly how much has Sarawak invested in this project that is now being taken up by the Marriott? Sarawak Report has ascertained that in 2007, the same year that Taib Mahmud openly acquired his shares in the company, a new contract was drawn up whereby the State was to pay even larger sums into the Borsamulu Resort Company, of which he was now publicly an owner.

Made from Ratan - bewildered Penan hunters reduced to a tourist attraction at Royal Mulu

Sarawak Report has been informed from reliable sources that the agreement was for Borsamulu’s management subsidiary to be paid RM 50 million a year for 50 years by the state. This means that the State of Sarawak has agreed to pay the Geneids and indeed the Chief Minister himself, RM 50 million a year to manage their own investment until the day they die! We therefore ask the Government of Sarawak if they will please confirm this figure and explain on what grounds they think they can condone such corruption?

Clearly these figures should be made public as it is the right of the people of Sarawak to be informed of the total sum of public money that has been poured into the Geneid’s forest playground since its inception in 1993 and they should also know how much more it is committed to spend.

Marriott Hotel

Sarawak Repot would also like to enquire of the Marriott Hotel Chain whether this continuing support by the Sarawak taxpayer forms part of their ’incentive’ for taking up a joint venture with the Geneids at Borsamulu Resort and also whether the company holds any ethical standards regarding human rights and the environmental impact of their activities? If so, how does their involvement in Borsamulu equate with these standards?

Marriott’s new business partners in their joint venture with Borsamulu Resort include the Chief Minister of Sarawak and his family, the State Government of Sarawak and the logging giant, Samling, recently condemned in an investigation into illegal logging by the Norwegian Government. Since Marriott are re-launching the resort under the auspices of eco-tourism and the Chief Minister and his family can only be described as one of the worst environmental menaces alive on this planet, we would like to ask Marriott how they are planning to deal with this contradictory arrangement?

'Eco-tourism' - a Geneid pal contributes to the destruction of the Mulu homeland of the Berawan Tribe

We would also like to enquire if Marriott can reveal the true identity of another of the major shareholders of Borsamulu, Widervale Assets Limited? We assume that in the course of doing their due diligence into the joint venture eco-tourism project they have identified the owner of this company, however in an instance of extreme irregularity it is not registered on the Malaysian Company Register, despite such a significant holding in a prominent state government-backed concern!

Given that Marriott Hotel Group’s promotional material regarding their planned acquisition of Mulu in 2011 claims confidence in the “eco-tourism potential” of the Royal Mulu Resort, Sarawak Report would finally like to ask on what criteria the Marriott Hotel Group judges ‘eco-tourism’? Their new business-partner, the Chief Minister of Sarawak, has sponsored the destruction of a huge segment of the Borneo rainforest, destroying the landscape of the whole of Sarawak. He authorised the logging of thousands of square miles of virgin rainforest surrounding the tiny Mulu National Park, eradicating most of the wild-life of the region, including inside the Park itself. In the process the local people and native forest tribes have been nearly starved into extinction and left to rot without a shred of compensation. Their protests have been put down by armed police.

We would therefore like to ask the Marriott Hotel Group how they intend to explain and justify these circumstance to their visiting ‘eco-tourists’ and indeed to concerned onlookers at UNESCO’s World Heritage Commission?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Protest or pay for Selangor water rates hike

November 13, 2010

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 13 — Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim told Selangor residents today that they either protest or pay higher rates for water as his Pakatan Rakyat (PR) government launched a campaign against a potential bail-out of the privatised state utility.

The Selangor Mentri Besar kicked off the “Return water rights to the Selangor people” campaign which was attended by 500 people at the land office here, although they were aiming for 100,000 people to sign a memorandum to the King.

The state government plans to submit a memorandum to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on December 5 over the federal government’s possible bailout of Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor (Syabas).

Top Selangor Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders informed The Malaysian Insider last night that the state’s move was part and parcel of a plan to “pressure” the Najib administration not to proceed with a multi-million ringgit bailout of the state’s privatised water industry, and that state-wide ceramahs and gatherings had already been planned in advance to mobilise the numbers needed to attend the December 5 gathering at Istana Negara.

However, Khalid (picture) told reporters today the main goal is to create awareness among the people, when asked if he was confident that the people’s support could pressure the federal government and water concessionaires to give in.

“It’s the people, it could be more than 100,000. I don’t really worry. I don’t really care because after all, we’re taking money out of the people’s pocket. I’m just reminding the people that if you don’t do this, then you have to pay for it,” he said.

Khalid said the government will get council members, Village Development and Security Committee (JKKK) members, aduns, member of parliaments, village chiefs, surau and mosque members to commit their support of the memorandum. He said that group comes up to about 30,000 people.

He said if each of them can get ten people to sign up, then they will easily have about 300,000 signatures.

The state government is fighting for the rights over the water industry and promised to provide the first 20 cubic metres water for free and maintain 12 per cent increase in water tariff, compared to Syabas’ plans of a 20 per cent increase by 2015.

Selangor’s water players — Syabas, Puncak Niaga Sdn Bhd (PNSB), Syarikat Pengeluaran Air Sungai Selangor Sdn Bhd (Splash) and Konsortium ABASS — are at risk of debt payment default as water bonds approach their maturity dates.

The debt service problem started when Syabas was barred from implementing a 37 per cent tariff hike agreed upon in January 2009, after the Selangor government claimed the sole water distributor had not done enough to reduce leakages which cost the state millions.

This in turn led to payment problems between Syabas and water treatment concessionaires PNSB, Splash and Konsortium ABASS, who supply it with treated water.

Khalid insisted that privatisation is not the solution for the state’s complex water issue.

“You’re talking about privatisation. The idea of privatisation is to bring efficiency and also better prices. I know a lot of people are very cynical about privatisation in Malaysia. They don’t call it privatisation, they call it ‘pirate-isation’,” he quipped.

PR leaders have insisted that a bailout would only rescue Barisan Nasional (BN) “cronies” who have profited “tremendously” from the government’s privatisation exercise.

“Our research shows that 20 cubic metres is enough for a family but with a swimming pool or if it’s used for business, that won’t be enough ... so if you use more, you have to pay for it,” the Mentri Besar said.

He assured that under the state’s control, the water concessionaires will not operate at a loss.

“It is time for us to have a movement to open the government’s eyes that water is the people’s rights.

“By taking over the water industry, the state government can make sure that price for water will not go up and the efficiency of handling the water supply can be improved,” he assured.

Tony Pua, DAP national publicity secretary told The Malaysian Insider last night, that the state government had planned 60 events from this week leading up to the date for the handing over of the memorandum.

“We have started the campaign to create awareness over the issue, prepared around 60 ceramahs around the state within the next three to four weeks. The ceramahs include with special focus groups, civil societies as well as church groups,” said Pua.

He added that during the functions, the Opposition leaders plan to zoom on the failure of Syabas to fulfil the concessionaire agreement, the history of privatisation, the high fees charged for privatised water in the country. They will also address the government’s multimillion bailout instead of forcing them to consolidate assets of concessionaires and place it under control, purview of the state government.

Sources told The Malaysian Insider recently that Selangor water bondholders will urge Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to intervene directly in the state’s water restructuring deadlock in an effort to safeguard their bonds from being further downgraded.

The Malaysian Insider understands that major bondholders — including CIMB Principal Asset Management, Hong Leong Investment Bank and Great Eastern Life — have drafted a joint letter to Najib asking the federal government to bail out Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor (Syabas) with a soft loan worth some RM1 billion.

In the letter, the bondholders contend that further downgrades of debt ratings will put capital markets at risk and will seriously impede the government’s effort to promote its Capital Markets Masterplan.

Putrajaya bailed out Syabas once already last year when it gave a RM320.8 million soft loan to parent company Puncak Niaga Holdings Bhd (PNHB) in December to help settle its debts to water treatment concessionaires.

It is understood that the bondholders intend to issue a separate letter to the Selangor state government by early December at the latest to push for a speedy resolution of the state’s water woes.

All four term-loan borrowers are already in technical default following their inability to maintain six months’ worth of reserves in a special account used to pay bondholders. The shortfall is understood to be some RM50 million, although this deficit could double in six months.

The technical default triggered a downgrade of the debt issuances by Malaysian Rating Corp Bhd (MARC) and RAM Ratings Services Bhd on September 8, who warned of further multiple-notch downgrades in this quarter. An industry source told The Malaysian Insider that bondholders suffered RM457 million in mark-to-market losses following the downgrade.

A statement by MARC at the time urged the federal and state governments to urgently interfere in the water industry’s restructuring negotiations to prevent a free fall of ratings in following months.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Dangerous Chemicals in Food Wrappers Likely Migrating to Humans

Dangerous Chemicals in Food Wrappers Likely Migrating to Humans

ScienceDaily (Nov. 9, 2010) — University of Toronto scientists have found that chemicals used to line junk food wrappers and microwave popcorn bags are migrating into food and being ingested by people where they are contributing to chemical contamination observed in blood.


Perfluorinated carboxylic acids or PFCAs are the breakdown products of chemicals used to make non-stick and water- and stain-repellent products ranging from kitchen pans to clothing to food packaging. PFCAs, the best known of which is perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), are found in humans all around the world.

"We suspected that a major source of human PFCA exposure may be the consumption and metabolism of polyfluoroalkyl phosphate esters or PAPs," says Jessica D'eon, a graduate student in the University of Toronto's Department of Chemistry. "PAPs are applied as greaseproofing agents to paper food contact packaging such as fast food wrappers and microwave popcorn bags."

In the U of T study, rats were exposed to PAPs either orally or by injection and monitored for a three-week period to track the concentrations of the PAPs and PFCA metabolites, including PFOA, in their blood. Human exposure to PAPs had already been established by the scientists in a previous study. Researchers used the PAP concentrations previously observed in human blood together with the PAP and PFCA concentrations observed in the rats to calculate human PFOA exposure from PAP metabolism.

"We found the concentrations of PFOA from PAP metabolism to be significant and concluded that the metabolism of PAPs could be a major source of human exposure to PFOA, as well as other PFCAs," says Scott Mabury, the lead researcher and a professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Toronto.

"This discovery is important because we would like to control human chemical exposure, but this is only possible if we understand the source of this exposure. In addition, some try to locate the blame for human exposure on environmental contamination that resulted from past chemical use rather than the chemicals that are currently in production.

"In this study we clearly demonstrate that the current use of PAPs in food contact applications does result in human exposure to PFCAs, including PFOA. We cannot tell whether PAPs are the sole source of human PFOA exposure or even the most important, but we can say unequivocally that PAPs are a source and the evidence from this study suggests this could be significant."

Regulatory interest in human exposure to PAPs has been growing. Governments in Canada, the United States and Europe have signaled their intentions to begin extensive and longer-term monitoring programs for these chemicals. The results of this investigation provide valuable additional information to such regulatory bodies to inform policy regarding the use of PAPs in food contact applications.

The study was conducted by Jessica D'eon and Scott Mabury of the University of Toronto's Department of Chemistry and is published November 8 in Environmental Health Perspectives. Research was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

Editor's Note: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Hard Evidence – Sanyan Scandal Exposes Taib!

Hard Evidence – Sanyan Scandal Exposes Taib!

SARAWAK REPORT
Friday, November 5th, 2010 GMT

Raw money - Sarawak's wealth ready for export

Evidence in a bitter court battle, currently being played out in Sibu, has laid out in devastating detail a mass of shocking information about the corruption at the heart of Sarawak’s State Government.

There has been little reporting of the case so far, because the Taib family have been doing their best to suppress it, however Sarawak Report has now obtained extensive documents relating to the hearing, all of which have been laid before the open court.

The case, which has been brought by the respected local businessman Dato’ Ting Check Sii against his former partner, Tufail Mahmud, brother of the Chief Minister, provides one of the closest insights so far into the illegal methods which the Taibs have used to extend their grasp over Sarawak’s wealth. It shows clearly the direct role the Chief Minister plays in orchestrating his family’s raid on businesses and state concessions and how they employ a network of tame businessmen and ‘nominees’ to manage and disguise their plunder of the State.

Concessions for sale and ‘nominees’ to disguise family interests

One of the most disturbing aspects of the case is Ting’s description of how Taib family members employ nominees to disguise favouritism by the Chief Minister in the granting of state licences and concessions. For example, in his written evidence Ting states:

“In 1987, I set up Sanyan Lumber Sdn Bhd which was given a timber concession. The shares of this company are held by me (50%) and Draman @ Morshidi bin Omar (50%) (as nominee of Datuk Tufail). Datuk Tufail told me that he needed to use a nominee because his brother was then and still is the Minister for Resource Planning. Datuk Tufail now denies Draman is his nominee, even though Datuk Tufail and I are the only joint bank signatories for this Company”.

Nominee shareholder Morshidi bin Omar hid Tufail's involvement as a beneficiary of a lucrative timber concession given by the Chief Minister to his own brother

Such admissions from Dato’ Ting about the way his business was operated are deeply damaging, because until recently he was one of the Taib family’s closest business confidants and one of Sarawak’s top Timber Towkays. For 25 years he partnered Taib’s younger brother Tufail Mahmud as the co-owner of the Sanyan Group, which controlled 25 separate companies. The group’s enterprises also benefited a number of the Chief Minister’s other brothers, including Arip Mahmud, Onn Mahmud and Ibrahmin Mahmud. Shares have also been handed to Taib’s own

Secret Shareholder - Taib's brother Tufail Mahmud

daughter Hanifah Taib, including one million shares in Sanyan Wood Industries. Indeed Ting has even confided to third parties that the Chief Minister had personally said to him:

“If you offer my brother more than 50% of the shares, then there will be more concessions for you!” [Abdul Taib Mahmud, Chief Minister]

That statement lays bare the Chief Minister’s corrupt management of his responsibilities with the sole purpose of self-enrichment. Ting has made clear that there was never any contribution from any of the Taib brothers towards the costs of the Sanyan Group and that they did not purchase their shares. Paying off Taib by favouring his brothers in this way was how Ting’s business was allowed to prosper.

However, it is clear that by putting his trust in such a bargain Ting enabled his own eventual downfall. The majority shareholding gave Tufail the opportunity to wrest control over the US$ 400 million conglomerate, even though he had not contributed a single ringgit towards it.

Court deposition - Ting's lengthy evidence exposes Taib family's business methods and the Chief Minister's abuse of his political power

Going public

Dato' Ting Check Sii, co-shareholder and driving force behind the Sanyan Group

It is for this reason that Ting is one of a growing number of businessmen who have made the brave decision to place his grievances against Sarawak’s ruling family before a public court. His evidence, whatever the outcome of the case, is compelling and based on inside knowledge.

Furthermore, his identification of Mr Moshidi bin Omar as a nominee of Tufail Mahmud and other allegations are substantiated by documented information available from the Registrar of Companies. Moshidi bin Omar has been listed as the shareholder of several concerns that are controlled by Tufail, yet he has no separate status as a businessman and he has regularly ‘sold’ his shares on to Tufail Mahmud when convenient to do so.

Goodmatch Sdn Bhd, another Sanyan Company

According to the court documents, the Sanyan subsidiary Goodmatch provides another key example of the abuse of nominees to disguise a conflict of interest on the part of the Chief Minister and his family. Goodmatch Sdn Bhd was used by Ting and Tufail in 1993 to enter a joint venture with the Japanese Noda Corporation in the construction of a plywood factory.

Sibu plywood factory - turning rainforest into throwaway furniture

Goodmatch was not only granted a timber concession by the State Planning and Resources Minister (ie the Chief Minister, Abdul Taib Mahmud), but was also accorded 5 years ’Pioneer Status’ for the joint venture project, later extended for a further 5 years, by the State Finance Minister (ie the Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud), thereby allowing it a 100% tax exemption!

According the Sarawak Government’s official portal, Pioneer Status is meant to apply to ”strategic projects in hi-tech industries with heavy capital investment, high R&D content or intensive linkages”, so how a plywood factory might qualify is an interesting matter. Meanwhile, Tufail Mahmud clearly considered it prudent to disguise his shareholding in this favoured company by again using Mr Morshidi Omar as his nominee Director and Shareholder for the first five years, holding 55% of the shares to Ting’s 45%.

Indeed, the registered company documents show that Tufail did not publicly become a Director of Goodmatch until 2002, when the pioneer status period and timber licence had expired. Likewise, he had not publicly become a shareholder until 1998 when Goodmatch ‘sold’ 54.997% of its shares to him, leaving Ting with his 45% and Mr Morshidi Omar continuing as a Director, but with a mere RM1.00 stake in the company! Given that Goodmatch is a subsidiary of the Sanyan Group which was co-owned and controlled by Ting and Tufail, the conclusion that Morshidi Omar is indeed merely a nominee (as stated by by Ting) is therefore inevitable.

Goodmatch - original Director was Morshidi bin Omar

But, should there be any remaining doubt, Tufail’s own evidence to the court proves Morshidi Bin Omar’s status as a nominee. Even though Mr Omar had originally been registered as the public owner, Tufail now acknowledges simply:

“Goodmatch was incorporated with myself and the Petitioner [Ting] as shareholders and directors”

By 1999, Goodmatch was receiving over RM10 million in profit from its joint venture activities alone, 55% of which was going to the Chief Minister’s brother.

Chief Minister is complicit

Dato’ Ting’s evidence makes abundantly clear that the Chief Minister himself is totally complicit in these arrangements and abuses his political power to control them. In the case of Sanyan Lumber for example, after 16 years of annually renewing its timber concession Taib cancelled it, immediately after Ting and Tufail fell out as business partners. In his testimony Ting explains:

“The timber concession Licence was not renewed in July 2003 and was instead given to Misi Gagah Sdn Bhd, a company controlled by Datuk Tufail through other nominees of his…. Misi Gagah now occupies the former office of Sanyan Lumber and utilises its former staff whose salaries continue to be paid by Sanyan Lumber until Labour Department put a stop to it in the middle of 2006″.

The lucrative timber licence was handed to a 'new' company however it operated with the same staff in the same office, all still paid by Sanyan Lumber. Ting says that Taib had merely transferred the licence from one nominee for his brother to another.

Sarawak Report therefore challenges Datuk Tufail and the Chief Minister to explain why the same office and staff should continue to be maintained by Sanyan Lumbar, unless at least some of the shareholders of the new company to be awarded the licence were not the same as the old one? This incident clearly demonstrates the ruthless action that the Chief Minister is prepared to take to keep his family’s control of key timber licences and to extract maximum profit from bleeding businesses in Sarawak.

Taib’s tentacles reach into every business

Towering shame? The Sanyan Building in Sibu, Sarawak's tallest building

Ting’s evidence to the court about the development of the Sanyan Group provides a clear exposition as to how Taib imposes his family interests on all the business in the State of Sarawak, profiting from every enterprise. The Towkay points out that he provided all the money and management that went into building the conglomerate and then constructing its famous headquarters, the Sanyan Tower in Sibu. The only contribution brought by the Mahmud brothers was their crucial relationship with the Chief Minister.

Despite this, says Ting, Tufail Mahmud always insisted on the lion share of the profit and a controlling majority of company shares, a demand that was impossible to resist given the power of his brother to grant and remove key licences. Records show that Ting’s salary was also half that of Tufail’s. Sources say it was frequently joked at the Sanyan Group that while Ting was the Day Manager at Sanyan, Tufail looked after the Night-shift. This was a reference to Tufail’s lengthy absences during office hours and to the bedroom furniture that he had imported into his office in the Sanyan Tower.

On the other hand it is plain that businessmen like Ting benefit from tempting rewards, courtesy of the Chief Minister, for as long as they cooperate with the Taibs’ greedy demands. Indeed it was famously noted that on the completion of the Sanyan Tower the State Government decided to move its offices into eleven stories of the building, thus ensuring that Sanyan managed to go straight into profit at a time when there was a reported glut in office space. Pelita Towerview Sdn Bhd is the subsidiary of Sanyan Holdings which owns the Sanyan Tower, of which Tufail has a 56% shareholding and Ting a 44% shareholding, meaning there was a clear conflict of interest in Taib’s decision to spend taxpayers’ money on renting the offices.

Likewise, from the moment that Ting went into business with Tufail and also his brother Arip in the early 80s, his evidence makes clear that a string of valuable contracts came the way of their various enterprises. Such rewards would have been unlikely for a less well-connected company, which is why the Taib family members are to be found enjoying such a mass of Directorships across the State, sitting on Boards for which they have no qualification and to which they have contributed nothing.

Sanyan and Archipeligo Shipping

Onn Mahmud - Brother of the Chief Minister and Gatekeeper Boss of Archipeligo Shipping

In this manner the Sanyan Group’s first venture in 1983 was Binta Corporation Sdn Bhd. The court depositions explain that this was one of a series of shipping companies, which benefited from contracts with Archipeligo Shipping to provide transportation services from Tanjong Manis Port. Archipeligo Shipping had in turn been handed a monopoly over handling all shipping in Sarawak by the Chief Minister and was it was entirely owned by another brother, Onn Mahmud.

The clear purpose of Archipeligo, has been to act as a classic Taib ‘gate-keeper’ company, with no infrastructure and few staff, purely to enable Onn to privately ‘tax’ and control the shipping of all the logs leaving Sarawak. Several insiders have confirmed to Sarawak Report that all foreign exporters were required to pay backhanders in US dollars into a series of Taib-owned companies set up in Hong Kong in order to be allowed to conduct their business of shipping logs from Sarawak.

Under the system the weight of the logs exported was totalled each month and Kin Kwok Shea, Onn’s office manager in Hong Kong, would then inform the shipping companies of the cut they had to pay and into which of the various Taib-owned companies in Hong Kong. This practice was publicly exposed by the Japanese Tax Authorities in 2007 , when they demanded tax be paid on these undeclared business kickback expenses by Japanese shipping companies.

The tax authorities revealed that at least US$10 million had to their knowledge been paid into Regent Star Company in Hong Kong, of which Kin Kwok Shea is the registered shareholder. Key inside sources have confirmed to Sarawak Report that in fact Shea, like bin Omar is only a nominee, this time for Onn Mahmud, who in turn represents his brother the Chief Minister of Sarawak as the true beneficiary of the shipping kickbacks.

Regent Star's nominee shareholders

The money raised by Archipeligo for the Chief Minister amounted to billions of ringgit annually, according to the insiders, who describe it as the Taib family ‘cash cow’ or ‘gold mine’. It is this operation that provided the foundation of the family’s wealth until Sarawak’s world class rainforest heritage was finally stripped bare earlier this decade.

Sources say that another advantage of the Archipeligo monopoly during this period was that the company had sole control over the gathering of logging statistics, enabling it to provide false information to the government (run by the M.D’s own brother), which was then passed on to international bodies such as the International Tropical Timber Organisation. In this way Sarawak was able to give an impression of sustainable logging and to disguise the level of greedy plunder that was actually taking place!

In this context Ting’s Sanyan Group managed to get a wealthy living performing contracts for Archipeligo to supply services to the shipping companies. They received these contracts , thanks to the preferential treatmetn allowed by Onn towards his brothers Arip and Tufail (who were Ting’s partners). Sanyan then subsequently took advantage of lucrative logging concessions and developed saw mills thanks again to the active support of the Chief Minster.

Dancing with the devil?

Insiders have confirmed to Sarawak Report that in the same way that the Mahmud brothers used nominees to disguise their shares and directorships, they themselves perform the role of nominee for the Chief Minister. The bulk of the profits of the Taib business empire in Sarawak goes straight to Abdul Taib Mahmud himself. This pattern matches the documentary evidence uncovered by Sarawak Report in the United States, showing that Taib secretly requires his family members to hold their shares in trust for him and it explains his vast wealth and string of properties in Malaysia and abroad.

Abdul Taib Mahmud - the mastermind behind the operation

Our sources have further disclosed the astonishing information that Taib controls his family nominees by forcing them to sign undated resignation letters and share transfer forms, which the Chief Minister keeps! If any of these family nominess fall out of favour the Chief Minister is then able to deploy their own signatures to have them removed! Onn Mahmud himself is believed to have fallen out of favour in this fashion prior to the kickback scandal and he has been sidelined from most of the Taib family businesses in recent years.

The experience of Dato’ Ting shows that, likewise, businessmen who profit by ‘playing the system’ are in equal danger of the same ruthless treatment from the Taibs. In his evidence he reveals that by first allowing Tufail to take the controlling majority of shares and then permitting him to bring in more family members as Directors onto the Board, he ultimately gave his partner the means to wrest control of the company that he had done so little to create. Ting writes:

“In 1998 [Tufail] requested that his brother Dato Haji Ibrahim bin Mahmud be appointed a director of Sanyan Holdings and [I] acceded to his request. In early 2003, he again requested that his daughter Anita Hamidah Tufail be appointed a director and I also acceded to his request. With the addition of his family members to the Board of Directors he was able to sieze control of the company and disregard [my] interests”.

Falling out

Daughter Anita Tufail - College graduate and new Sanyan Director. She thought she knew how to run the company better.

Ting blames the breakdown in relations between the former partners on this decision to allow college graduate Anita, a girl in her 20s with no business experience, to join the Board. He says Anita immediately set about criticising the way Sanyan Holdings was run and relations rapidly soured. By using the votes of his brother Ibrahim and his daughter, Tufail was able to enact a Boardroom coup and remove Ting from his position as Managing Director of the entire company and all its subsidiaries.

Having now taken control of the multi-million dollar company for which they had paid and done nothing, the Tufail family then stopped the payment of all salary and dividends due to Ting and went to extreme lengths to have him removed from his office in the Sanyan building and to sack all the long-term staff who were considered
faithful to Ting. Ting relates that this vindictive treatment was even extended to one of his nephews, a qualified engineer and an employee, who was demoted to the role of toilet attendant!

Sarawak Report believes there can be no clearer proof of the level of corruption that the Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud has inflicted on his country over the past 30 years than the scandalous evidence brought forward in the Sanyan case. The Taibs will be doing their utmost to make sure that the judiciary find against Ting’s suit for compensation and the rightful return of his company, but they cannot hide the facts that have been brought before the courts.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Bomoh Warned Taib To Step Down!

Bomoh Warned Taib To Step Down! – Part Two of our exclusive revelations

SARAWAK REPORT
Friday, October 29th, 2010 GMT

Taib's once-trusted 'Bomoh' - Ustaz Abdul Rahman Bin Hazrat

Taib’s Bomoh confided before he died that he had warned the Chief Minister in 2003 that he should stand down within 7 years! However, this piece of advice apparently signalled the beginning of the end Taib’s relationship with his long-trusted soothsayer.

As we recently revealed [see Part I of our exclusive revelations], Taib had retained the witchdoctor for decades as his secret adviser and practitioner of black magic. However, on this occasion the Chief Minister found his guidance for the first time unpalatable. According to close observers, the relationship between the two men began to break down from this moment.

“In 2003 the Bomoh said “step down or it will be a disaster for you”, explains one confident of Ustaz, “However, Taib had come to think that his power was God-given and he did not need the Bomoh anymore. This incident might have angered Taib and his family members and therefore Ustaz was slowly dropped and side-lined”.

The confidant believes that Ustaz became ever more troubled as the ‘first family’ started to become arrogant and over-reach themselves in later years. He felt they had started to believe they could do whatever they liked and were above the law and was dismayed at their treatment of people who got in their way.

Distancing

Reconciliation - White Haired Rajah and Sea Pirate

Sarawak Report is publishing this material because its source is a deep insider with impeccable credentials and access to information on this subject. Our informant tells us that this breakdown of trust was followed by another major disagreement when the Bomoh advised against Taib’s public reconciliation with his uncle Tun Rahman Ya’ kub in 2007.

Taib had fallen out with the previous Chief Minister during the so-called ‘Ming Court Affair’ in 1987. To many this seemed to be a mysterious political feud, but it actually had its origins in an ugly family matter between the two men. Ustaz had been a close adviser to Taib when he split with his uncle and hugely disapproved of Tun Rahman.

However, after many years of emnity during which Taib and his family referred to the uncle as ‘lanun’ (sea pirate), the Chief Minister eventually saw political advantages in promoting Tun Rahman’s daughter, Norah Tun Abdul Rahman, after the family made an advantageous marriage link with the brother of the Prime Minister of Malaysia. So he decided to mend relations.

'Entrepreneurial MP' - Norah Abdul Rahman was elected unopposed in 2008

This made the Bomoh very angry, but Taib saw to it that by the next year in 2008 Norah was placed unopposed into a Federal Parliamentary seat and settled into a top commercial role as ‘Executive Chairman of Tanjung Manis Halal Hub Development’ (a project that plans to destroy another huge area of Sarawak’s remaining natural environment)! Norah now likes to pose as an ‘Entrepreneurial Malaysian MP’, as she is gushingly described in the Tanjun Manis website, but like all the youthful Taib family female proteges she owes her grand position, salary and titles to family connections rather than business prowess.

By the middle of 2008 the Bomoh was a totally disappointed man, say his confidantes. Sick and broken, he left for Pakistan and died on 3rd October. After his death Taib’s brother Tufail engaged 2 more Pakistani bomohs and brought them to Sarawak where astonished on-lookers witnessed them chanting and praying in the middle of a court room as they attempted to assist Tufail in the outcome of a recent court case. However, it has been pointed out that Taib’s corrupt control over the judiciary will be of more tangible benefit when it comes to influencing the outcome of the case.

Shocking influence

Tufail's latest Bomoh's - chanting disruptively in court

However, the testimony of those who were close to Ustaz during his heyday as Taib’s advisor provides a fascinating insight into the Chief Minister’s bizarre and superstitious habits. For example, the Bomoh would always encourage Taib to grow his beard before an election or a crisis, giving those in the know a clear indication of what plans were afoot:

“Taib himself would consult Ustaz in the dates of nomination and polling for State Elections, which would normally fall on ’9′ or a multiple of ’9′ like ’18′ and ’27′”, explains one insider in an authored document provided to Sarawak Report.

The same document goes on to say the superstitious CM would also would also consult Ustaz for ‘important political strategies, both State and Federal’:

Firstly, “for dealing with Federal Ministers, especially new PM’s, Ustaz’s advice was indispensable”. Secondly, “to appoint and dismiss State Ministers and CEOs of both Sate-owned and Taib-family-owned companies”. Thirdly, ” The other members of the Taib family always consult Ustaz on important matters like investments both locally and overseas, the most suitable dates and time for earth breaking, topping out ceremonies, house warming, engagement and marriage, and also the appointment of key personnel in their own companies etc.”

Ustaz - escorted in Taib's jet and lived the high-life, but it all went sour after he advised Taib to step down!

Many in their inner circle believe that the Taibs think that the help of their bomohs has assisted immensely in Taib’s political career and has assisted him and his family to excel in their obtaining of riches and amassing of properties.

If this is the case, Sarawak Report wonders if Taib’s belated decision to abandon the advice of his once trusted Bomoh and to refuse to listen to his common sense warning that an old man like him should realise when his time is up, could signal the end of that run of luck and the destruction of all that ill-gotten wealth?

Sarawak - Student caned for having non-halal food

Student caned for having non-halal food

FMT

E-mail Print

By Joseph Tawie

KUCHING: A 10-year-old schoolboy here received 10 “whacks on his palm” for bringing fried rice with pork sausages to eat in school during recess.

A senior teacher at the St Thomas Primary School here caned Basil anak Baginda 10 times on his palm for bringing non-halal food to school.

His mother, Angela Jabing (photo:left), disclosed this incident at a press conference yesterday much to the shock of several PKR women leaders who were present.

"My son Basil anak Baginda, aged 10, has been with St Thomas’ Primary School, Kuching, since his kindergarten years.

“On Oct 15, I prepared fried rice with pork sausages for my son to bring to school for his recess. However, I was shocked to learn that he was punished and caned 10 times on the palm by the senior assistant for bringing non-halal food to school," she said.

"I have never received any written circular from the school that children cannot bring non-halal food to the school," added the distraught mother.

Unsatisfactory explanation

Jabing said on Oct 19, she went to the school to seek a clarification of the incident.

"I met the principal who was at the time sitting with the senior assistant in the senior assistant’s room.
"Instead of clarifying the reason for my son’s punishment, the senior assistant said that he could not remember the incident,” Jabing said.

According to her, the senior assistant had summoned her son to his office to explain himself and had later told her not to blow up the incident as it was a sensitive matter.

Jabing said that the headmaster had also told her that in February this year, the senior assistant had announced during the school assembly that the studentswere prohibited from bringing any non-halal foodstuff to school, even for their own consumption as an act of respect for the Muslim students.

“I was not satisfied with the explanation, so I wrote in asking for a written explanation within three working days.

"On the third day, I received a call from the principal who requested to meet me on Oct 28. I still insisted on a written reply on the matter and was told by him to collect the letter the following day.

“The letter did not properly answer my question on why my son was caned 10 times for eating fried rice with non-halal sausages. Is this a justified action taken by the school on schoolchildren?” she asked.

Ministry must investigate

Jabing also wanted to know whether the school was trying to implement this “non-halal” food rules on children’s food brought from home.

She also wanted to know if the instruction came from the Education Ministry.

Meanwhile, PKR women leaders present at the press conference have demanded that the ministry investigate the incident.

They said if left alone, the issue could turn “very ugly” especially in a mission school.

PAS trampling Kelantan Orang Asli rights

Give Kelantan Orang Asli their rights Mariam Mokhtar  | August 15, 2018 The Orang Asli are entitled to their way of life. CO...