Isnin, 28 Mac 2011

Taib declares he never lied and was not involved in dirty politics

Taib declares he never lied and was not involved in dirty politicsFor years Sarawak Chief Minister (CM) Taib Mahmud did not have a credible opposition to challenge him. He did not see the need to fight corruption and improve transparency in all parts of the government. He brushed aside opposition leaders who dared highlight the importance of a vibrant political arena where all voices are heard.
But this is 2011.
Yesterday, March 26 saw 30 years of rule under Taib Mahmud.
Taib knows his days are numbered but he is keen to hang on, just like Prime minister Najib Abdul Razak. If one of them or their Cabinet goes down, the chances are that they will all go down.
Sarawak has been pumping oil and gas out of the ground for over 100 years. In addition to that, it has the spice trade, jungle produce, mineral wealth, logs and now oil palm.
By right, Sarawak should be one of the richest states in Malaysia. But it is not. It is recorded as having one of the most hard-core poor people in the nation.
The people are poor, unlike their CM.
Taib says he is paid a decent RM20,000 salary; however, he is a multi-billionaire, with assets worldwide which are looked after by his daughter, Jamilah, and her husband and his family, the Murrays.
Last week, Taib entered the cyber-world to engage with those whom he believes are out to undermine him.
In particular, he is doing battle with 'Sarawak Report', whose author, Clare Rewcastle Brown, has listed all of Taib’s corrupt practices and ill-gotten wealth.

But the cyber-world is unfamiliar territory for Taib. He is feeling the heat from the pressure of the Opposition in Sarawak on othe ground, and also from the revelations of ‘Sarawak Report’, in cyber-space.
In a flurry of of staged ‘on-line interviews’ arranged by Taib’s advisors, which were then launched across numerous BN-controlled websites, hilarious results have been produced with Taib making serious mistakes and contradictions.
First, Taib contradicted his son-in-law, Hisham (Sean) Murray about Sakto, the first company in the group set up by the Taibs in Canada.  Jamilah is married to Sean.
Last year, Sean’s cousin, Christopher Murray, who manages Ridgeford Properties (another of Taib’s properties) in London, told a journalist that Sakto was in fact begun by his father and Sean’s father, who were twin brothers.
In a sign that it is not just Taib Mahmud who is feeling the heat, the Murrays have apparently hired one of the UK’s top lawyers Mishcon de Reya, to make a statement to newspapers in which they declared: “Sakto, Sakti and Ridgeford are not and have never been funded by Mr Taib Mahmud….Should this allegation be made, our clients will sue you without further notice”.
Contrast this with a recent online video, which recorded Taib admitting that he had started Sakto by giving his own money to Jamilah.
He said: “It started 20 to 30 years ago.  I gave money to my daughter because I was resigning from Federal Government.  I got a gratuity and gave some money to her to start a new business, it thrived… It is a property development company… It got successful and from successful they go to do business in London”. [Taib 22/03/2011]
Second, Taib implied that his cousin Hamid Sepawi has been misleading the authorities in his applications for Planted Forest Licences.
In a front page article in the Borneo Post, titled “State Open To Forest Verification”, Taib declared that “70% of virgin forest .remains intact in Sarawak”. He challenged NGOs to “come and check for themselves”.
Did Taib not know that Hamid Sepawi’s own company, logging and plantation conglomerate, Ta Ann, when applying for a series of Planted Forest Licences had produced statements which provided a devastating contradiction of Taib’s claims?
Ta Ann’s Environmental Impact Statements claimed ‘so little remaining natural forest that artificial plantations are necessary’.
Back in 2006 when the company made its application for an enormous 200,000 hectare Planted Forest Licence in Kapit, it presented a situation that is in stark contrast to the one the Chief Minister is alleging now.
Ta Ann’s Environmental Impact Statement pointed out that: “most of the natural forests of Sarawak have been logged at least once”, that “the sustainability of such logging activities has become questionable” and because of excessive logging, what remained was too expensive because “good stands of commercial timber have become increasingly hard to access because of their remoteness and the associated rough terrain”.
In 2008 Malaysia’s own Auditor General made similar damning remarks, which were reported in Bernama, when he criticised Sarawak as one of the four States with “poor management of forests, leading to river pollution, erosion, landslides and destruction of flora and fauna”.
And yet, Taib asserts that 70% of Sarawak’s virgin forest remains intact.
Unsurprisingly, Taib had announced, in ‘The Star’ newspaper on 22 March 2011, how he was a man of integrity: “You look at my behaviour over the last 30 or 40 years. I’ve never lied to the people, I’ve never been playing dirty politics”.
Sarawakians go to the polls in a few weeks time. Should they trust their Chief Minister who says that “I’ve never lied to the people and I’ve never played dirty politics”?  - Malaysia Chronicle

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