Saturday, April 30, 2011

Probe Taib Mahmud’s disproportionate wealth

Comango, a coalition of Malaysian NGOs has urged the government to set up a royal commission of inquiry to probe the Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud’s immense wealth.

From the widely publicized wealth and world-wide interests of Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud’s family on the internet, the Coalition of Malaysian NGOs calls on the Government to urgently set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry to investigate Taib’s disproportionate wealth that does not befit a civil servant’s while Sarawakians are among the poorest in the country.


Taib’s unseemly wealth while so many indigenous peoples are living in abject conditions or have been unceremoniously displaced from their ancestral homes warrants a thorough investigation into how Taib’s wealth has been accumulated during his 30-year as Chief Minister of Sarawak.

It is clear that even the Prime Minister knows that Taib is the liability to the BN in this state election and that is why he is at pains to stress that Taib will go. Meanwhile, Taib is still standing in the elections and appears to want to be around for the next five years at least.

We call upon Taib Mahmud to resign as Chief Minister in the light of the latest exposes of his family’s world-wide assets and the RCI should try to recoup all this ill-gotten wealth from Taib and his family.

Apart from Malaysian-based companies owned by Taib’s family, companies scattered through the world associated with Taib Mahmud’s family have been uncovered as follows:


Companies associated with Taib’s family

Malaysia: Achi Jaya Holdings Sdn Bhd; Borsarmulu Resort Sdn Bhd (213014-M); Cahya Mata Sarawak Sdn Bhd (21076-T); K&N Kenanga Holdings Bhd; Kumpulan Parabena Sdn Bhd; Mesti Bersatu Sdn Bhd (758849-V); Naim Holdings Berhad (585467-M); Sanyan Group; Sarawak Aluminium Company (783974-K); Sarawak Energy Bhd.; Ta Ann Group; Titanium Management Sdn Bhd; UBG Berhad (240931-X)

Canadian companies: Adelaide Ottawa Corporation (Business number 2028546); City Gate International Corporation (446027-8); Glowell Development Corporation (1545868); Preston Building Holding Corporation (2108122), Sakto Development Corporation Pte. Ltd. (155207-4), Sakto Corporation (340439-1), Sakto Management Services Corporation (655948-4), Tower One Holding Corporation (2028542), Tower Two Holding Corporation (2018543).

British companies: Ridgeford Properties Ltd (3268801) and Ridgeford Consulting Ltd (5572163). Ridgeford Properties Ltd is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Canadian City Gate International Corporation.

Australia: Australian Universities International Alumni Convention Pty Ltd (ACN: 081942903); Donmastry Pty Ltd (ACN: 093 907 843); Geneid Holdings Pty Ltd (ACN: 087759751); Golborne Pty Ltd. (ACN: 061844148); Golden Sovereign Development Ltd (ACN 103 925 613); Kesuma Holdings Pty Ltd. (ACN 105540636); Newtop Holdings Pty Ltd (ACN: 066588225); Ostgro Australia Pty Ltd (ACN: 094721070); Sitehost Pty Ltd (ACN: 062312743); Valentine on George Pty Ltd (ACN: 105541562) British Virgin Islands: Astar Properties Ltd. (201522); CMS Global (BVI) Ltd.; Tess Investments Ltd (203511)

Hong Kong: Grand Shine Trading Ltd (0127665); Grand Will Ltd (0133932); Herolite Investment Ltd (129119); Natalite Investment Ltd (129502); Regent Star Company Ltd (0130318); Richfold Investment Ltd (0130308); Whittaker Company Ltd (0161304)
Jersey: Sogo Holdings Ltd (43148)

USA: Sakti International Corporation Inc.; Wallysons Inc (the owner of the FBI building in Seattle!); W.A. Boylston Inc; W.A.Everett Inc.

The RCI should be able to assess the value of all these assets owned by Taib and his family and they must account for all this wealth.


Malaysian NGO activists banned from Sarawak

Taib Mahmud has been Chief Minister, Finance Minister and State Planning and Resources Minister of Sarawak since 1981. He has allowed logging of hundreds of thousands of hectares of tropical rainforest by logging companies and marginalised the state’s indigenous communities.

His main critics all these years have been concerned Malaysian NGOs which have worked tirelessly to protect Sarawak’s forests and her indigenous peoples from the timber tycoons and dam builders. Consequently, many Malaysian NGO activists have been banned from entering the state – “for anti-logging activities” – even though Sarawak is a part of their own country. This gross violation of the basic human right to freedom of movement and abuse of Sarawak’s immigration rules show that Taib and his state government are afraid of more exposes of their exploitation of the state’s resources and its peoples.


Sarawak’s rich resources stripped bare

From a state rich in oil and timber, Sarawak has been stripped bare. While we read about the fabulous wealth of Taib and his family spread all over the world, the poverty rate in Sarawak is one of the highest in the country.

This is unacceptable when the state is so rich in natural resources. Sarawak gets only 5 per cent of the oil royalties; the rest goes to the federal government, while most of the profits from timber go to the state government. As a result, the Taib Mahmud state government has been flagrantly promoting logging all these years.

Logging companies work on thousands of acres of forest that traditionally belong to the indigenous peoples such as the Kayan, Kenyah, and Penan. It has been estimated that more than 80 per cent of the primary forest in Sarawak has been logged in the past 40 years alone. Sarawak’s 2010 production was 10 million cubic metres; the state exported nearly 4 million cubic metres of logs worth RM2 billion. (The Star, 16 February 2011) Measure that against the recent report in December last year when 1000 Penans at Lusong Laku near Miri were totally cut off because the iron bridge that had been used by the logging company there had been replaced by a makeshift wooden one when they left before the impounding of the Bakun dam and this had collapsed.


Rape of Penan girls

The logging industry has destroyed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in Sarawak, especially the indigenous peoples. To add insult to injury, the recent expose of the rape of Penan girls and women by personnel in the logging camps has created indignation among concerned peoples all over the world. The fact finding mission by Malaysian NGOs which went to investigate this scandal confirmed these reports of rape and harassment of Penan girls and women. They called for respect for the rights of the indigenous peoples and for the police to investigate all these cases, justice and adequate compensation for all the victims. One of the reasons given for the police apathy was the lack of resources to investigate these cases!


Bakun Dam: Disruptive, dubious and disastrous

The displacement of more than 10,000 indigenous peoples comprising 15 different ethnic communities for the Bakun Dam in 1998 was traumatic in itself. Their resettlement to Sg Asap has meant continuing trauma and deterioration of once capable and spirited peoples. The whole Bakun area, the size of Singapore Island has also been thoroughly logged, transforming the once beautiful Rajang into the biggest muddiest river in this part of the world, destroying the hunting and fishing grounds of the indigenous peoples. The recent 240km logjam on the Rajang can be said to be one of the worst environmental disasters in Malaysia in recent years.

The decision to implement “Operation Exodus” by the Mahathir/Taib Administration was unforgivable when the Bakun project had been suspended in 1998 because of the financial crisis. It did not stop Ekran Bhd subcontracting another Ting Pek Khing company, Pacific Chemicals to harvest 1000 hectares of forest and extracting 79,000 cubic metres of timber from the Bakun area. In 1998, nearly RM1 billion of Malaysian tax payers’ money was paid out to these companies which had been involved in the project.


Show us the Bakun Dam emergency response plan

That is why concerned Malaysian NGOs have all along maintained that this Bakun HEP project is socially disruptive, economically dubious and environmentally disastrous. And now that we have learnt the lessons of the recent earthquake in Japan, can the Taib State Government show us a Bakun Dam emergency response plan in the event of a dam collapse?

The economic cost of the Bakun dam remains to be counted. We learned recently that Sime Darby has lost more than RM2 billion as a result of their involvement in the Bakun project. For a state where total demand for electricity is less than 1000MW, we have built a dam that produces 2400MW. And the state government plans to build more dams. Energy experts will tell you that having such enormous amount of excess energy is not a boon but is wasteful.

Clearly, the contractors and vested interests have profited from this project, Malaysian tax payers have to pay, more forests will be raped and more indigenous people will be displaced from their ancestral homes. To take up the excess electricity, energy-intensive industries such as aluminium smelters will be built and the developed countries will be too glad to offload their toxic industries away from their countries to Sarawak.


Sarawak still colonised by the West

When Sarawak first joined the federation, under the First Malaysia Plan, she got 10.5 per cent of total development allocation. As one of the poorest territories in Malaysia, the development allocation for Sarawak instead of growing has fallen to 6.7 per cent of total allocation under the Ninth Malaysia Plan. Under the Fifth and Sixth Malaysia Plans, the allocation for Sarawak was only 5.2 per cent and 5.3 per cent respectively. Only recently, the Education Minister said that 600 schools were in a critical condition, most of these in Sarawak and Sabah and they are thinking of privatising these schools.

This is absolutely scandalous considering the government is about to buy six patrol boats for the navy for RM6 billion and guns worth RM700 million. When the government announced this recently they said we can afford these patrol vessels. Now, you don’t need RM1 million to build a new school, which means that with RM6 billion, we could build at least 6000 brand new schools in the whole country.


A New Deal for Sarawakians

The peoples of Sarawak deserve a government that respects basic human rights and cares about the welfare and holistic development of the people and environment. The indigenous peoples want a just solution to the encroachment into Native Customary Land by developers, plantation and logging companies and titles to their land.

It is time for Sarawakians to take their destiny into their own hands and work toward their own self-determination and the progress of their resource-rich and beautiful land. It is time for Sarawakians to reclaim their rights and interests intended by the 18-point agreement when Sarawak joined the “Malaysian Federation of Malaya, Sarawak and Sabah”. This is what the federation should have been called – Sarawak and Sabah should not merely be two of the 13 states of Malaysia.

We call for the renegotiation of oil royalty rights (more than 30 per cent) and a higher proportion of development allocation (more than 10 per cent) for Sarawak. The lives of rural peoples should be improved by building proper tarred roads and better river transport to help the people market their produce; micro hydroelectric power facilities or solar powered facilities to supply electricity to each longhouse upstream; more and better schools and clinics to lift the living standards of the local people.

Today, as we celebrate the historic victories of the peoples over autocracy and plutocracy in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and more countries to come, we call on Sarawakians to seize the moment and do what has to be done at the next Sarawak State elections.

Self-determination for Sarawakians! Vote out the exploiters! Oust the autocrats!

13 April 2011

Signatories:

  1. Aliran Kesedaran Negara (ALIRAN)
  2. All Women’s Action Society (AWAM)
  3. Amnesty International Malaysia (AI Malaysia)
  4. Bersih 2.0
  5. Bruno Manser Fonds
  6. Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ)
  7. Child Development Initiative
  8. Civil Rights Committee of The Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese
    Assembly Hall (CRC-KLSCAH)
  9. Centre for Orang Asli Concerns (COAC)
  10. Coalition of Good Governance Penang (CGGP)
  11. Community Action Network (CAN)
  12. Friends of Kota Damansara (FoKD)
  13. Group of Concerned Citizens
  14. Health Equity Initiatives (HEI)
  15. Ikatan Hak Rakyat
  16. Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (JERIT)
  17. Johor Tamizhar Sangam
  18. Klang Consumer Association
  19. Lawyers for Liberty (LFL)
  20. The LLG Cultural Development Centre in KL
  21. Malaysia Youth and Students Democratic Movement (DEMA)
  22. Malaysian Dravidian Association
  23. Malaysian Indian Business Association
  24. Malaysian Indian Development & Unity Association
  25. Nationwide Human Development And Research Centre
  26. Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM)
  27. Penang Chinese Independent Schools Education Society
  28. Penang Chung Ling High School Alumni 1973
  29. People Service Organization
  30. Persahabatan Semparuthi
  31. Persatuan Kemajuan Pendidikan Malaysia
  32. Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (EMPOWER)
  33. Persatuan Masyarakat Selangor & Wilayah Persekutuan (PERMAS)
  34. Persatuan Prihatin Belia Malaysia
  35. Pusat Komunikasi Masyarakat (KOMAS)
  36. Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM)
  37. Sembang-Sembang Forum
  38. Sem Kiong Angin
  39. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
  40. Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO)
  41. Women’s Centre for Change, Penang (WCC)
  42. Writers’ Alliance for Media Independence (WAMI)

Anwar makes light of sex allegations

Aidila Razak

Faced with mounting cacophony over the Carcosa sex video on top of his ongoing sodomy trial, PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim seems to believe that laughter is the best medicine.

Speaking to a full-house of about 1,500 in PKR-held Ampang, Selangor last night, Anwar sought to brush off the allegations as a big farce, peppering his speech with jokes on the sex video and sodomy trial.

"Now when people see me, they'd look at my stomach then look at my face. So when we sit down to eat (my wife) would tell me, 'Don't eat too much'," he said, to laughter.

It was not evident that he was ruffled by the oath taken by sex video proponent Shazryl Eskay Abdullah at a mosque hours earlier.

"I was in Umno for a while, I know these people. They say they are Muslims but don't even pray. They say they want to take the oath, but have they stopped consuming alcohol? Tell them to stop raping people first before taking any oath," he told the mostly Malay audience.

"Anwar has nothing else to do but have sex. For a while, he likes it from the front, then the back, then the side, then the centre, but (Prime Minister) Najib is the most moral of all, Sheikh Najib, and Sheikh al-Rahim," he said.

Anwar was, perhaps, referring to former Malacca Chief Minister Rahim Thamby Chik - one of the three Datuk T claimed to be men behind the sex video - who in 1994 was accused of statutory rape. The charges were later dropped.

Rahim had resurfaced on March 21 when he joined Eskay and former Perkasa treasurer Shuib Lazim in screening the sex video to journalists at Carcosa Seri Negara.

Scandals continue to feed comedy

The biggest hits among the jokes were those on the sodomy trial, when even the mere mention of "Saiful's anus" had the audience in stitches.

More than 500 who could not enter the venue for lack of space had to be content sitting on the floor of an open courtyard outside, ignoring the slight drizzle.

While the massive traffic jam from the direction of Kuala Lumpur suggested that many had come from afar to attend the ceramah, a fair number of locals dressed in pyjamas and sarongs were also spotted in the crowd.

"International research has found that the longest a sperm can last is 72 hours, but Anwar's can last 96 hours because I am Superman," joked the opposition leader.

"But I'm not. I don't wear my underwear on the outside," he said triggering a roar of laughter.

Then, perhaps, hitting a raw nerve among those who were seen with children in tow, he said: "Your children ask you, what does it mean 'sperm in anus'? This is sex education Rosmah and Najib-style."

Anwar also explained that he has kept strong despite the attacks through the power of prayers from friends and supporters worldwide, from many different religions.

"A religious teacher once told me that my incarceration (in 1998) was good for me because when I was beaten up, kept hungry and shamed, I felt how the rakyat feels, so that when I govern I will never forget," he said.

"I have a debt of gratitude with the people because the more they attack, the stronger the rakyat supports me," he said, requesting his audience to pray for him.

Self-worth and dignity important


Anwar also took pains to explain how Pakatan Rakyat's approach is different from the BN's, claiming that Pakatan will help anyone who needs assistance regardless of race, unlike the BN which says '1Melayu, 1Bumi' but only helps its family members.

"I just came from Kampung Sungai Putih (Ampang), do you think they ( the BN) care about the residents there? RM52 billion worth of bumiputera shares are now down to RM2 billion. Did the Chinese steal it?" he asked.

"The difference between us and Umno is that when we say bumiputera rights, we look at the masses, the marginalised, the downtrodden.

"They say, 'Oh we have to defend Islam' - then stop raping, having illicit sex, consuming alcohol, being involved in graft and being unjust. They say they'll defend Islam, but then plunder everything," he said.

"You're here without us giving you anything to eat or drink, nor do we compensate your travel expenses, but you came with hope and the belief that this country deserves better," said Anwar, taking a jab at the opulent 1Malaysia dinners and other ploys that BN has been using to draw voters to their many campaign events.

"The people of (rural Sarawakian constituency won by PKR) Ba'Kelalan have no Internet or alternative media, but they have self-worth and dignity. It is with this that we can beat the BN." he said.

'Best solution to NCR issue is gov't change'

Kuek Ser Kuang Keng

Sarawak natives may have won a landmark case in 2009 at the Federal Court to protect their natives customary land rights (NCR), but activist lawyer-turned politician Baru Bian concluded that the fastest way to resolve the long simmering issue is a complete change of government.

Currently handling over 100 cases of NCR land disputes, the Sarawak PKR chief believed that the core problem lay with the Sarawak government that has consistently defied court rulings and continued to grant land concessions to private companies that encroached into NCR lands.

"We can take the case to court but it takes years to reach a final decision. By that time the land would have been harvested and money pocketed," Baru told some 40 people who turned up for the 'The Tarik Session with Baru Bian' organised by news portal Malaysia Digest in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Thus the fastest way to put a stop to it is to change the state or federal government through the ballot box, he said.

"Although we failed at the state election but we still can win the federal government in the next general election," said the newly elected Ba'Kelalan state assemblyperson.

The landmark case of Nor ak Nyawai vs Borneo Pulp Plantation Sdn Bhd in which the High Court recognised NCR land, had started as early as 1999 but it was only in 2009 that the nation's highest court reaffirmed the decision.

Baru reiterated the Pakatan Rakyat election manifesto that an independent land commission would be formed to study and find a solution for NCR land disputes should the opposition coalition take office.

Gov't fanning fire with policy

He warned that more violent clashes over NCR land disputes will occur because the state government had shown no sign of stopping its trouble instigating practice.

"This is dangerous for Sarawak's future if nothing is done."

Discussing the outcome of the recently concluded Sarawak state election, Baru said the party had learnt its lesson that early preparation is crucial to win in polls, especially the early selection of candidate.

PKR managed to grab three out of the 71 seats in the election, including two native-majority seats of Ba'kelalan and Krian, which were formerly BN bastions. Political observers had attributed the victory to early preparation and pre-selection of candidates.

Baru conceded that the groundwork in other constituencies started late, delayed by the party's internal problems and the existence of more than one potential candidate in those areas.

Hence, he said, the party will try to replicate Ba'kelalan and Krian's success formula in the next general election, through early selection of candidates who will immediately be put to work on the ground.

"The fear of announcing the candidates early is that they could be bought over (by the rival) but we can identify the candidates first without announcing them," he told Malaysiakini after the event.

Setback blessing in disguise

Baru added that the state election had eased the parliamentary candidate selection process .

"We can gauge their performance and experience in the last state election, whether we can trust them or not."

On DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang's proposal to merge Sarawak DAP with Snap on the grounds that it could strengthen Sarawak Pakatan, Baru remained doubtful, pointing out that the polls result showed that Sarawakians had turned their backs on Snap.

All 26 Snap candidates, except one, had lost their deposit in the election, failing to obtain one eighth of the total votes cast.

However, Baru said that the proposal is understandable as DAP wants to widen its perspective after being tagged a Chinese chauvinist party when it snared almost all the Chinese-majority seats during the polls.

"DAP only worked in Chinese constituencies and only focused on Supp in the past 40 years. So now it is restricted to Chinese seats. Although it had tried to expand to non-Chinese areas like Bukit Kota, it failed," he added.

Hence he repeated the *party's invitation* for DAP to help PKR to cover more non-Chinese areas in the coming general election.

"We were not greedy (to contest 49 out of 71 seats) but we wanted to make sure no seat would be won uncontested by the BN."

Earlier, PKR strategy director Rafizi Ramli had called on Pakatan partners to share the 'burden' of contesting in Sarawak's 'black' constituencies, but none were willing to fight for in the last state election.

This had overstretched the PKR's resources during the campaign period, he said.

Najib urges PAS to join BN, but PAS leaders slam the door on him

Written by Stan Lee, Malaysia Chronicle

Prime Minister Najib Razak urged PAS to dump the Pakatan Rakyat and join BN to foster Malay and Muslim unity, but he only managed to elicit expressions of exasperation and ridicule.

PAS leaders shook their heads in wonder at Najib's perceived aggression and told the Umno president not to be "thick-skinned". They pointed out that the way he was currently running Umno was a "slap in the face to the Malay community and an insult to Islam".

Indeed, the Umno elite in their bid to cling to power have unleashed a series of sex-based conspiracies that have shocked the conservative Malay community and angered Muslim leaders.

Najib in particular has gunned after Pakatan de-facto head Anwar Ibrahim, accusing him of sodomising a male personal aide and when that plot lost credibility, a sex video this time accusing Anwar of having sex with a prostitute was leaked to the public.

Anwar has denied the accusation and close-up shots show distinct differences in physique and facial features.

"If this is the strategy then I think it would backfire. As far as I am concerned if the intention is to drive a wedge between PAS and Pakatan, it is ineffective at its best. At the worst, for them that is, it will strengthen us even more," PAS MP for Kuala Selangor Dzulkefly Ahmad told Malaysia Chronicle.

"If you try to 'assassinate' someone let alone an Opposition Leader in such a despicable manner, it will not make us withdraw from Pakatan. We will defend the person involved because the tactics used to bring down someone like this is a vice especially if the person is continuously being made a target by BN and the media."

Bad motives

But Najib, who has often been accused of hearing what he wanted to hear, insisted on drilling into the Islamist party that it could not achieve its aims while partnering with DAP, one of the three components in the Pakatan coalition

PKR, DAP and PAS formed the Pakatan in 2008 following the landmark 2008 general election.

“Why play nice with DAP? Does DAP champion Islam?” Bernama reported Najib as saying in Kuala Terengganu today.

“(PAS president) Hadi Awang, enough of the DAP, leave the DAP, join BN.”

Some pundits believed Najib was also trying to stir up infighting in PAS, which is due to hold its annual congress and party polls in early June.

Umno has tried many times to get PAS to merge or join the coalition but has so far been rebuffed. Contrary to what has been reported in the government media, apart from Spiritual Adviser Nik Aziz Nik Mat, PAS president Hadi Awang too have bad memories of Umno.

PAS had joined BN briefly in 1971 at Umno's urging, but withdrew after ties soured.

- Malaysia Chronicle

Who will be the next Prime Minister of Malaysia?

Written by Jason Tan, Malaysia Chronicle
Who will be the next Prime Minister of Malaysia

Anwar Ibrahim, the brightest talent in Umno during the 80s and 90s, is now the ruling party's Number One enemy. The bounty placed on his head by the Umno elite can be compared to that of fugitive terrorist Osama bin Laden in the Western world.

For most part of the last decade and especially now, we have witnessed all scales of conspiracies, fabrication, lies, manipulation, defamation and attacks against Anwar.

The ultimate aim of the Umno elite seems to centre and revolve only around him. And of course, how to end his political career - prematurely and unnaturally.

The reasons are simple, it is because Anwar poses the biggest threat to the Umno elite - both inside and outside the party. This may sound strange since Anwar has long left Umno, in fact, since 1998 when he was sacked and thrown into jail.

But with current crop of leaders so dismal and the Najib Razak-Muhyiddin Yassin combo a shaming flop, Umno grassroots cannot be faulted for wishing for the glory days when their party stood proud and tall.

RAHMAN flipped to NAMHAR

Optimism and hope were then bursting and Anwar's Wawasan 2020 set to sweep the country and community to new heights.

Now, there are only tired and sad plots that depend only on sex and smut to rivet public attention.

If either Muhyiddin or Najib were to speak only about their policies, they can expect to draw only yawns. Because no Malaysian could ever believe they could translate their rhetoric into performance. This is what happens with tremendous loss in credibility.

So no surprises that Najib and gang are doing all they can to keep the Umno door tightly shut against Anwar and also to demonize him to the Malay community at large.

There is this famous 'belief' that all the prime ministers in Malaysia are already pre-named by the alphabets in the first prime minister's name RAHMAN.

Tunku Abdul Rahman himself was the first alphabet, followed Abdul Razak, Hussein Onn, Mahathir Mohamad, Abdullah Badawi and Najib Razak. Who will be the next prime minister then?

The return of the big A

The curious within Umno and the Malay community have already flipped the code backwards NAMHAR. 'N' is for the current Najib. But who will the 'A' be?

Many Malays believe that it is Anwar.

Now, perhaps Malaysians and foreigners will better understand the inexplicable, even mad onslaught of sexual accusations against Anwar. From sodomy and homosexuality to sex with female prostitutes and promiscuity, Najib has thrown all that he has at his political arch enemy.

Such smut must be agony for Anwar and his family, but reassuring it is for Malaysians that trumped-up sex and lust are all that Najib can try to pin onto the Opposition Leader. Not corruption, embezzlement or sheer dishonesty.

Imagine the reverse if Anwar was PM - would a warehouse be sufficient to contain all the investigation files of corruption allegations against Najib and the Umno elite?

So it is that Najib - Malaysia's 6th prime minister - is running out of 'bullets'. Only jail and sudden 'accidents' are left.

Which will it be and what will happen next, only time can tell. But make no mistake, behind the PM are men of ruthlessness deep enough for the darkest deeds. The Umno elite will do what it has to do to cling on.

It is left to the Umno grassroots and all other Malaysians to put their foot down and topple them.

Meanwhile, despite the monumental pressure, the 63-year old Anwar is bearing up well. If anything, the past years have weathered him for unbearable turmoil.

It is astonishing that he is still standing and has not U-turned from any of his stated goals to bring about racial and economic equality and justice, where the priority goes to those with the greatest needs regardless of colour. - Malaysia Chronicle

Sarawakians could die laughing

Patrick Lee | April 29, 2011

Idris Buang's defence of Taib Mahmud is definitely a laughing matter, say commentators.


PETALING JAYA: Many Sarawakians are in stitches over PBB’s suggestion that they are willing to die for their Chief Minister, Taib Mahmud.

Borneo Research Institute (Brimas) director Mark Bujang laughed when he heard of the claim, made by PBB Supreme Council member Idris Buang.

“Most Sarawakians are dying to see Taib step down,” Bujang snickered.

Idris, in response to wide ranging criticism of Taib, said in an interview yesterday that “many Sarawakians are willing to die for him because of the good he has done for Sarawak and the nation as a whole.”

He said Taib was “the best chief minister Sarawak has ever had” and that the criticisms only hurt the state’s Bumiputera communities.

Bujang disagreed, saying many saw Taib as a liability to both the state and federal governments. “I don’t think anyone is willing to die for him.”

Many FMT readers were also tickled by Idris’s statement, and some denounced him as a bootlicker.

Reader Kchingite commented: “Mate, nobody wants to see you wank Pek Moh (a nickname for Taib) in public.”

Another commentator, Layar Guy, said: “Idris Buang needs to show his ‘apple polish’ because he wanted to stand in as Kota Samarahan MP replacement for Sulaiman Taib.”

Bewildered

Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian, however, displayed more bewilderment than mirth.

Speaking to FMT, Bian said: “That’s what he said? I’m very surprised. Very surprised that he can make this kind of statement.”

He said many natives in the Sarawakian interior did not have a high regard for Taib and might resent Idris for his presumption.

According to him, the natives see Taib as someone who has robbed them of their rights.

Bian, a native customary rights (NCR) lawyer, said: “As far as I’m concerned, the clients I represent in NCR will not agree with that statement.”

Bandar Kuching MP Chong Chieng Jen was equally sombre.

“Well, I think he’s entitled to his opinion, but obviously the election results show otherwise,” the DAP man said about Idris’s statement.

He said some Sarawakians had shown through the recent election that they wanted Taib to leave. “Most of the voters in the urban areas want him to go.”

Also read:

‘Sarawakians willing to die for Taib’

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Apex Court hears S'wak natives' historic test case

Hazlan Zakaria


The Federal Court today heard submissions by a indigenous group from Sarawak challenging the Sarawak Land Code, used to acquire their native customary rights (NCR) land.

This is considered a historic test case as the outcome would affect hundreds of suits brought by Sarawak's indigenous people against the Sarawak government and private companies.

A three-member panel led by Justice Ariffin Zakria presided over the case, involving two separate cases being heard concurrently.

NONEThe first is a suit by Bato Bagi and five other appellants against the state government over their loss of land now under water as part of the Bakun hydroelectric dam project.

The second involves a suit by Jalang Paran against the government and a state owned company which acquired NCR land for a pulp mill project.

In both cases, the lower courts had ruled in favour of the government, where only arguments on points of law were raised instead of going for a full trial.

Counsel: Process unfair

Counsel for the appellants Sulaiman Abdullah submitted that NCR land cannot be tried based on precedents set by normal land acquisition cases as NCR land cannot be considered as merely property.

He argued that NCR lands for the appellants were part and parcel of their livelihood and thus they represents life itself for the Orang Asal.

Thus the use of section 5(3) and 5(4) of the Sarawak Land Code in the acquisition of ancestral lands by the state without such special considerations is ultra vires Article 5 of the Federal Constitution, which guarantees the right to life.

NONESulaiman (left in photo) also argued that there were irregularities and lack of procedural fairness in the acquisition process - such as proper land survey and reasonable notice - which led to inequitable compensation to the appellants.

This, he posited, was in breach of Article 13 of the Federal Constitution which requires equitable compensation for any property taken away by the state.

Counsel also claimed that his clients were not properly consulted by the state prior to their relocation, thus the acquisition of the lands was done without the prior informed consent of the Orang Asal.

Natives want proper trial

Sulaiman argued that such lack of prior consultations goes against the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) of which Malaysia is a signatory.

The appellants are requesting that the cases be sent back to the lower court for a full trial so that they can be decided on both merit and law.

This, argued Sulaiman , is because the area of NCR law is unsettled law and still developing , requiring a thorough examination of all the evidence tendered.

Among the remedies that the appellants are seeking is for the acquisition of their land to be declared void and adequate compensation.

bakun dam special report logging site 070910The bench then asked Sulaiman to propose an assessments system on the value and compensation for the acquisitions of NCR land since he claimed it was different from normal land acquisition system.

The lawyer then requested time to prepare a reply.

Counsel for the Sarawak government JC Fong submitted that the Sarawak Land Code is the only requirement for the acquisition of NCR lands as Article 13 of the Federal Constitution only mentions law and not procedure.

He posited that Section 5(3) and 5(4) of the Sarawak Land Code were enough as they met the requirement of an enacted law and that there are existing procedures of arbitration within the state to ensure adequate compensation.

On Sulaiman's argument on UNDRIP , Fong said this cannot be applied in Malaysia because the international treaty, though ratified by Malaysia, was never adopted by the nation's parliament and thus cannot be enforced.

Case resumes on May 16

Fong, instead ,suggested that the appellants were at fault in both cases as they accepted compensation from the state government without protest and did not seek further arbitration.

He said that the appellants had waited too long, at least three years from the time their land was taken away in the 1990s.

To this, the bench agreed that a valid point had been raised against the appellants and asked the appellants for an explanation. Sulaiman said he would need to consult his clients to prepare a reply.

Following this, Fong submitted that he would need time to prepare his answer to the bench on the criteria to asses the value and compensation for state acquisitions of NCR lands raised by Sulaiman earlier.

Ariffin then adjourned proceedings to May 16 to give both sides time to prepare their replies and for further submissions.

The Sarawak Land Code has long been criticised as a convenient tool frequently abused by the state government to acquire NCR land.

Critics argue that the legislation is an official rubber stamp to the callous displacement of native communities purely for profit.

PKR urges S'wakians to assess its manifesto: Change is for real

Written by Sheela Sri Jaya, Malaysia Chronicle

PKR leaders refuted as mischievous the claims that their campaign in the just-concluded Sarawak election did not offer voters a concrete alternative to the BN.

“On the contrary, PKR was the one with a detailed manifesto but as usual the enemies of Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim do not want anything that is related to him including PKR to get any credit at all,” Ampang MP Zuraida Kamaruddin, who campaigned extensively in the Land of Hornbills during the state polls, told Malaysia Chronicle.

The PKR swept to its best victory in Sarawak with 3 seats and 17 per cent of the popular vote.

The party would have clinched more seats if not for the clever fragmentation of the electoral boundaries or gerrymandering put in place by Chief Minister Taib Mahmud years ago. This was what earned the state the nickname "BN's fixed deposit" from no less than Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Solid manifesto

Nonetheless, the swing of support for the PKR has been an eye-opener, spurring its coalition partners like DAP and PAS to show greater interest in the rural areas.

Umno, which has already spread its wings to Sabah, is also eyeing a stake in Sarawak, which is one of the richest in timber and petroleum resources.

PKR leaders had in their 10-point manifesto promised to raise the oil royalty to 20 per cent from the current 5 per cent should they win federal power. They also offered various other economic incentives and financial aid to the young of RM200 each as well as senior citizens of RM600 each.

Other key highlights are a guarantee of freedom of religion, free WiFi to move Sarawak into a knowledge-state, a Competency, Accountability and Transparency system of governance, respecting the 18-points agreement and a promise to investigate allegations of the ill-gotten wealth of BN leaders and their cronies.

However, the out-performance was neglected as the mainstream media and other BN-friendly agents sought a scapegoat in PKR. Their purpose was to deflect attention from the BN losing a total of 15 seats compared to 7 in the 2006 polls.

The DAP had won 12 seats, garnering a popular vote of 20 per cent.

“Clearly it has been stated in the manifesto about our promises and we explained every single detail in that manifesto. What we are offering to the Sarawak people is a huge change compare to what BN had been offering before this and not only that, we put it out in black and white,” PKR vice president Tian Chua told Malaysia Chronicle.

“In the general election, we hope to see full series of reform not just in Sarawak but for the whole country.”

Between reality and theory

On Tuesday, political scientist Andrew Aeria from the government-owned Universiti Malaysia Sarawak lambasted the PKR challenge.

“The campaign itself was too leader-centric,” said Aeria, referring to how campaign materials often featured the faces of the party’s top leaders like Anwar Ibrahim and Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian.

“And they did not offer an alternative to the policies the Barisan Nasional was offering. If it was change, then change to what? That’s what people want to know.”

Aeria did not touch on the manifesto despite its high-profile launching.

His response drew a caustic reply from PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution.

“There is a difference between political theory and political reality,” Saifuddin told Malaysia Chronicle.

“Political reality is for example Taib Mahmud's regime, which has been in Sarawak for 30 years, and yet Sarawak is suffering from lop-sided development with the government is only focusing on developing only selected urban area.”

Related Story: Pakatan unveils 10-point S'wak manifesto, vows to probe BN's ill-gotten wealth

- Malaysia Chronicle

PKR wants immediate probe on election payouts to Ibans

Joseph Tawie | April 28, 2011

Sarawak United People's Party (SUPP) has denied reports that 100 disgruntled Iban had stormed its office in Sibu over payments promised to them for supporting BN candidate Wong Soon Koh.

KUCHING: Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian wants the Election Commission (EC) and Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to immediately investigate an allegation that Barisan Nasional (BN) had resorted to vote-buying to win the Bawan Assan seat.

Bian was commenting on reports that 100 Ibans had stormed the Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP) office in Sibu on Monday demanding that they be paid the RM400 each which SUPP agents had allegedly promised them if they voted for the BN candidate.

The natives from two longhouses of Rumah Chandi and Rumah Pasang claimed that they were given RM100 as an upfront payment before voting day and promised another RM400 for each voter after the election.

It is understood they have been paid the RM400.

But Ibans from another longhouses are also claiming the same amount.

Said Bian: “This is solid evidence that the BN won by ‘rasuah’ whereas we in Pakatan Rakyat lost but retained our ‘maruah’.

“This appears to be the practice everywhere including in Ba’Kelalan.”

Bian, who contested and won the Ba’Kelalan seat in the recently held state election, said the Ibans’ allegations were proof that the polls was the dirtiest ever..

“I demand that the EC and MACC investigate this matter immediately. This is proof of our fear in the first place that this election would be the dirtiest

“We want to see how neutral and effective EC and MACC are,” he said.

Not true

Meanwhile, the chairman of Sibu SUPP Bumiputera committee, Andrew Shilling, has denied allegations of payouts and accused DAP and Sibu Election Watch (SEW) of making “absurd” claim.

“It is very absurd and baseless to say we were distributing RM400 election money to 100 Ibans as reported,” he said.

Shilling said the allegations had damaged the reputation of the Ibans and they are considering taking legal action.

Shilling, who is a political secretary to Chief Minister Taib Mahmud, admitted, however, that he met 18 longhouse chiefs and representatives of village development and security committee (JKKK) at the SUPP headquarters on Monday to discuss payment of wages for election workers.

He said that the group of people who assembled on the ground floor of the headquarters had nothing to do with the party.

“They could be supporters of the opposition parties,” he said.

SUPP-BN candidate Wong Soon Koh was re-elected to the Bawan Assan constituency defeating DAP candidate Alice Lau Kiong Yieng with a majority of 1,808 votes.

Wong secured 7,316 votes as against 5,508 votes by Lau.

The constituency has 16,743 voters, of whom 5,834 are Iban voters.

It is said that Wong’s victory was due to the strong support given by the Ibans.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

'Split led to dysfunctional S'wak PKR campaign'

Aidila Razak


While BN had a head start through government campaigns, Sarawak PKR was dealing with factionalism which may have cost them several seats in the recently-concluded state polls.

Despite for the first time being able to provide good training for its grassroots as well as to present a coherent message, political scientist Andrew Aeria said PKR's “deep and vicious factionalism” turned its campaign dysfunctional.

NONE“The two factions, one led by (Sarawak PKR chief) Baru Bian and the other by Malay-Melanau leaders, led to a lot of local power-broking among those vying for candidacy,” Aeria (right) told an audience of about 300 at a forum organised by pollster Merdeka Centre in Selangor yesterday.

As a result of this, said the Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) lecturer, local PKR leaders were wary of starting groundwork for fear that they would not be selected as candidates.

“For the first time there was ample training given to potential candidates, but this had little impact as preparations for the election started very, very late,” he said.

Besides not having proper grassroots machinery, leading to the importing of peninsular Malaysian party workers unfamiliar with local circumstances, Sarawak PKR also failed to raise enough funds to tide them over, particularly at the local level.

“Baru held a few fundraising dinners in Kuching, Miri and Sibu but locally there was very little of this so there were very few election workers other than candidate hopefuls who would show up to say 'Hello, I'm ready', but ready for what? There was real tension and voters felt that,” he said.

Success due to groundwork

PKR's success in the Ba'Kelalan, Krian and Batu Lintang constituencies, said Aeria, was more due to groundwork than anything else.

In Ba'Kelalan, he said, Baru completed the groundwork at least a year ago while Ali Biju, who won the Krian seat, finished in earnest in October last year.

azlanIn Batu Lintang, See Chee How was assisted by an efficient team who managed to translate his support base from Batu Kawah, he said.

Aeria said that a PKR representative who actually did a lot of groundwork and preparation, or at least until polling day, was Padungan incumbent Dominique Ng, and his non-selection was a tell-tale sign of an opposition coalition that is functioning poorly despite its rhetoric.

“On the surface, (Pakatan) looked well but the reality involved a lot of tension, especially over seat negotiations clearly seen when (Ng) was dropped... an end product of tremendous DAP-PKR lobbying,” he said.

While DAP, which had the most experience in Sarawak, ran a successful campaign in the more urban areas, Aeria said that signs of weak cooperation were evident in Pakatan when the other parties were then left to their own devices.

“There was little grassroots-level cooperation where it was more a case of you want that seat, now you're on your own, even though NONEthe leadership shared platforms,” he said.

The cracks were also obvious for fellow Unimas lecturer Faisal Syam Hazis (right), who felt that the opposition parties were “running their own battles” separate from one another.

“DAP was well-equipped but the rest were still struggling to put together their campaign,” he said, showing also photos of PKR's makeshift banners and DAP's sophisticated billboards.

Beyond Taib

By working more cohesively together, Faisal Syam said that DAP could then “address the fear especially among the Malay/Melanau that the DAP is only representing the urban Chinese”.

“The opposition also needs to go beyond just attacking (Chief Minister) Taib (Mahmud). After Taib goes, what's next…no more modal (issues)?” he asked.

NONEAgreeing with him, Monash University media and political science lecturer Wong Chin Huat (left) said the new opposition assemblypersons need also to work harder to maintain support in urban areas.

“Can Pakatan convince electorates that they can do more than SUPP or BN who are in government. Pakatan needs to dominate the agenda to people will remember that they are ones who made the government move.

“Otherwise, BN can put (a good candidate) like Dr Sim (Kui Hian) and say he will be the next deputy chief minister. Do you think Kuching will support Pakatan then?” he asked, suggesting also that the opposition bench set up a shadow cabinet to prove they mean business.

Umno 'circling' for foray into S'wak

Aidila Razak


The presence of Umno bigwigs and machinery during the BN election campaign in Sarawak has raised questions about the peninsula-based Malay party's role in the state.

NONEUniversiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) political science lecture Andrew Aeria (right) is of the opinion that Umno will eventually move into Sarawak.

“But I dare not say more. I can't really see it happening yet but the day (Chief Minister Abdul) Taib (Mahmud) moves away from the scene, there will be some serious moves (into Sarawak by Umno),” he said.

Speaking at a forum on the 10th Sarawak election organised by pollster Merdeka Centre in Selangor last night, Aeria said the possibility of Umno in Sarawak “should not be feared” and that there should be more engagement on this front.

NONEFellow Unimas political scientist Faisal Syam Hazis said Umno will have a hard time making its case to enter Sarawak after PBB - the local party which represents the Malay-Melanau and Muslim community - won all 35 seats it contested.

This also makes it the party which holds the largest proportion of the Sarawak assembly's 71 seats.

“For Umno to come in, PBB will have to be dissolved. Sarawak BN, including (Dayak-based) PRS and PBDS will try its best to ensure that Umno stays out,” he said.

For Sarawakians, Umno is still very much the bogeyman. This was exemplified in a billboard during the election campaign, showing three sharks marked DAP, PAS and PKR circling Sarawak, while an unmarked shark was depicted taking a bite out of Sabah.

“You would assNONEume that the unmarked shark is Umno and that Sarawak BN was killing two birds with one stone,” he said to laughter from the audience of about 300.

Whether or not Umno makes a play for Sarawak, Faisal said the fact that BN conceded 16 seats (three times more than 2006) and narrowly won 14 other seats foreshadows strains in federal-state relations.

Ngemah, Telang Usan and Senadin were won with less than 50 percent of votes, while 11 others including Beting Maro, Kedup, Bengoh and Kakus were taken with 50-56 percent of the votes. Most of these seats saw multi-cornered fights.

“With 14 (marginal) seats and 16 seats lost (by BN), there is a genuine threat of losing the two-thirds majority…if the opposition is able to put up a straight fight,” Faisal said.

“The expectation was for Sarawak BN to win 80-90 percent of the seats and when they lost 16 with Taib being the lead cause for that, Kuala Lumpur panicked and called for his head (causing) a strain in federal-state relations from now on.”

PBB power struggle?

However, Faisal believes that Taib will use the fact that he had retained the two-thirds majority support as a reason to stay and will use his succession plan to show Kuala Lumpur who is boss.

bn candidates announcement pbb hq 030411 abang johari“There is a clear indicator that KL wants (PBB deputy chief) Abang Johari (Abang Openg, left) because he is seen as the leader with the less baggage in terms of corruption.

“But Taib was sworn in as chief minister soon after the two-thirds majority was announced, and as a symbolic gesture, the person sitting next to (Taib's wife that night was PBB vice-president) Awang Tengah.

“Taib is saying: 'I am not stepping down but even if I do, the choice of a successor is mine. I have been the strongman of Sarawak for 30 years and have delivered the parliamentary seats (to BN) so why should I bow down?'.”

Agreeing with his colleague, Unimas lecturer Neilson Mersat said post-election factional fighting within PBB will be watched for the anticipated “power struggle”, following raised expectations of Taib's departure.

The chief minister in an interview immediately after results were announced on April 16 had said that he is seeking to retire “mid-term”.

Pundit: Sarawak losses ominous if PKR doesn’t buck up

April 27, 2011
The unequal performance of PR parties in the Sarawak polls were due to a lack of co-ordination, said Aeria. — file pic

PETALING JAYA, April 27 — PKR’s dismal performance in the Sarawak election is a disturbing omen of how the party will fare in the next general election unless it institutes painful changes, a political analyst said last night.

Political scientist Dr Andrew Aeria said the party organised a respectable pre-election training programme but it ultimately foundered in making use of those preparations during the campaigning period.

“The campaign itself was too leader-centric,” said Aeria, referring to how campaign materials often featured the faces of the party’s top leaders like Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian.

“And they did not offer an alternative to the policies the Barisan Nasional was offering. If it was change, then change to what? That’s what people want to know,” Aeria told a forum here last night on the election results and its implications.

He added that if the party hopes to do well, the PKR also needed to replace its “re-recycled leaders” with new ones and have stronger grassroots machinery.

This, however, did not mean that BN could automatically defeat PKR and wrest back lost seats and Selangor, a state where the former is the dominant party in the Pakatan Rakyat government.

Aeria, of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, said BN must also put through meaningful reforms if it wants to recapture the trust of a public weary of sloganeering.

The PKR fielded 49 candidates in the Sarawak election — the most out all PR and BN parties — but only managed to win three seats: Ba Kelalan, Krian and Batu Lintang.

Its PR partner, DAP, on the other hand, won 12 of the 15 seats it contested. Islamist party PAS won none of the five seats it contested.

BN was able to retain the two-thirds majority in the Sarawak state assembly when it won 55 seats. However, it only secured 54.5 per cent of the popular vote.

Aeria described PKR’s Sarawak campaign as “paradoxical” as it was organised and, at the same time, dysfunctional.

The PKR held pre-election training programmes for polling and counting agents, and for potential candidates.

It also had the support of local non-governmental organisations to tap into widespread anger among Dayaks over ancestral land disputes.

Yet when it came time to the actual campaign, the party was torn by factionalism and infighting between local influential figures over who gets to be a candidate, he said.

“Some candidates were even residing in Kuala Lumpur and flew back to stand in their area. In some places, there was not even a grassroots machinery to help them campaign.

At an earlier press conference, PKR strategy director Rafizi Ramli admitted the party was stretched thinly across the 49 seats. However, it was forced to do so because it did not want to give BN walkover victories in 24 seats.

Initially, PKR had only wanted to contest in 25 seats where it had established a presence and was confident of gaining support.

But it was forced to contest in these 24 other seats because neither of its partners wanted to step up and “share the burden” of standing against the BN, Rafizi said.

PKR’s final decision to stand in these “unwinnable” areas crimped the party’s ability to pool its resources and focus on the 25 seats which it stood an even chance of winning.

Aeria noted that a weakness in the PR campaign was that each party’s grassroots machinery did not work each other.

“There was a lot of co-operation between the leaders of each party in how they staged ceramah together. But there was no cooperation at the grassroots level”.

“Moving forward, all parties, whether in BN or PR need to reform and renew. The electorate is more interested in substantive issues but the parties seem stuck in the past,” Aeria said.

BN won Sarawak with notes not votes, claim analysts

April 27, 2011
BN had unfairly leveraged government resources for its win in the Sarawak poll, according to analysts. — file pic

PETALING JAYA, April 27 — Analysts here agreed that money politics and widespread election irregularities contributed greatly to Barisan Nasional’s (BN) success in the just-concluded Sarawak polls.

Speaking at a forum here last night, they related how BN had not mobilised its party machinery to campaign in the polls but instead made full use of both federal and state government resources to canvass for votes.

In the interiors, said the analysts who were also in Sarawak as observers, eye-witnesses told of vote-buying from as low as RM20 to some, and for others, up to hundreds or even thousands, depending on their geographic location.

Pakatan Rakyat (PR) has also complained of vote-rigging, claiming the campaign had not been a level playing field for all contesting parties.

BN, claimed the opposition, had not only completely mobilised both state and federal Cabinet minister but also made use of departments like Kemas, Jasa, Information Department and Welfare Department to become campaigners and agents during the polls.

The Malaysian Insider understands that BN’s federal government election machinery alone had cost over RM500 million for the 10-day campaign period.

Many Sarawak voters in the peninsula could not afford to fly home just to vote, said Wong. — file pic
According to PKR strategy director Rafizi Ramli, there were also reports that Kemas and Jasa officers were made to camp out in longhouses several days before the April 16 polling day to distribute funds.

There were numerous other complaints made against the Election Commission (EC) over vote tampering, the sudden blackout at a vote tallying centre, the EC’s refusal to allow a recount and its failure to provide copies of the Form 14 to party polling agents.

Political scientist Wong Chin Huat described the electoral discrepancies as a “scourge”, adding that BN’s had drawn much of its success from exploiting its role in government.

“This election was not won by counting votes alone but by counting notes as well,” he told a Merdeka Center forum on the Sarawak polls, last night.

He noted that BN candidates and politicians had depended on both private and public funds to woo voters and made use of the civil service to help them in their campaign.

Government agencies and departments, he claimed, were made to organise and attend daily programmes with voters across the hornbill state.

“It was a non-level playing field. Did you know that even the EC was used extensively... they were giving out BN leaflets to voters along with ballot papers!” he complained.

Wong also argued that the EC had deliberately blocked legitimate Sarawak-born citizens from voting as postal voters, resulting in an “unfair” reflection of the people’s support for the opposition.

“There are so many Sarawakians living elsewhere, whether in the peninsula or in Singapore or abroad but there were no postal ballots given for the Sarawak diaspora.

“Many of these voters living outside the state do not have the funds to return just to vote. How can you expect them to fly home just for this?” he said.

Wong noted that unlike many from the peninsula who worked in East Malaysia, those from Sarawak forced to find jobs in the peninsula were often employed in low-paying jobs.

“I think that the EC is probably guilty of being anti-East Malaysia. This is a serious issue of how they are denying East Malaysians their voting rights.

“We have complained numerous times but no action taken,” he added.

Wong predicted that this will likely continue in the coming general election.

“East Malaysians will not have much say. The elections are merely run so that the incumbent can be re-elected and not so that the voters can choose their leaders,” he said.

Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) lecturer Dr Faisal Syam Hazis agreed that election irregularities had boosted BN’s win in the polls, adding that it had also fuelled political patronage, particularly among the rural voters.

“Especially for those living in the interiors... the Muslim Bumiputeras for example, they have this respect towards authority, this fear of being marginalised, of losing political power... the low level of political consciousness,” he said.

Najib (centre) dimmed the lights in his Putrajaya office to spend six days in Sarawak. — file pic
Faisal alleged that BN campaigners had given cash handouts to voters in many seats where they felt threatened.

“Some of the voters complained that ‘barang naik’ (prices went up) but the payments were still the same as the previous polls, at RM20.

“They complain but RM20 was enough to buy their votes. If you talk to many of the rural Malays, even those who are being deprived from development, they say — we go to a government hospital so how can we go and vote against the government?

“And that is patronage... the distribution of money only accentuates that,” he said.

Unimas Associate Professor Dr Andrew Aeria echoed the view that money politics and questionable campaign tactics had been employed during the 10-day campaign in Sarawak.

“It was a case of PKR versus the federal and state government. There were 4Ms this time — money, media, machinery and muscle,” he said.

He noted that BN had used threats to convince voters to elect them into power.

“They said — if you do not vote for us, we will pull back our services,” he said.

BN cruised to a thumping victory on April 16 when it garnered 55 of the 71 state seats up for grabs in the hornbill state.

But PR still made inroads with its 15-seat victory, noting that despite being up against BN in an imbalanced competition, it had managed to more than double its seat representation in the state assembly

Pakatan may falter with early Taib exit, analysts say

April 27, 2011
Taib was the crux of PR’s campaign during the Sarawak state poll. — file pic

PETALING JAYA, April 27 — Political analysts have warned that Pakatan Rakyat (PR) could lose its momentum in Sarawak should Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud resign before the next general election.

In their analysis of the just-concluded state polls, the scholars pointed out last night without the “anti-Taib” rallying cry to unite opposition supporters, Barisan Nasional (BN) may regain its lost votes — particularly from the rural communities.

As such, they said all PR parties — including DAP — needed to quickly formulate a new strategy that would bring their campaign beyond the anti-Taib sentiment and penetrate deeper into the interiors of the hornbill state where BN’s vote bank lies.

Political scientist Wong Chin Huat said DAP could not afford to rest on its laurels and expect its victories to repeat in the coming polls without working hard to keep its message alive among its supporters.

“PR will go forward but can it continue to maintain its dominance in urban Sarawak?

“Taib is now seen as a ‘rural CM’. Will he go before the federal elections? If he does, the opposition cannot campaign against him [any] longer because you cannot find a leader more hated than him.

“But can they survive without Taib?” he said during a Merdeka Center forum on the April 16 Sarawak state polls held at the Hilton Hotel here last night.

Wong pointed out that failure to perform well in Sarawak during the general election would mirror PR’s failure to wrest control of Putrajaya.

This, he said, was because by remaining in the opposition, PR parties would find it hard to prove to voters that they could do better than the ruling government.

“Like in Sarawak... can DAP do better than SUPP in government? They need to be remembered... they need to show that although they are in the opposition, they are really driving the state forward,” he said.

Wong said PR needed to offer “something” tangible to Sarawak voters to keep their support from dissipating, stressing on an often-raised point that the political expectations of east Malaysians vastly differed from those of the peninsula voters.

“PR does not have a policy for Sarawak. Its urban centre is stuck now as there is a stagnation in development so PR needs to offer something.

“(Penang Chief Minister) Lim Guan Eng came in to speak about offering free WiFi to Sarawakians but that is a West Malaysian thing; it’s different in Sarawak,” he pointed out.

Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) Associate Professor Dr Andrew Aeria agreed, noting PR’s message to voters was to “change” but that the pact had failed to explain the alternatives.

“You tell them to change but change for what? Do not forget, BN has an economic policy in place and whether we like to admit it or not, people have benefitted.

“PR has not come up with an economic programme for Sarawak... so if you want to dislodge their programme, you need to come up with something better,” he warned.

He agreed that while many voters were unhappy with Taib’s 30-year rule, they still voted him into power as they were comfortable with doing so.

“True, it is always better to be safe than sorry and voters are very rational that way. Until and unless you can provide them with a better alternative, they would not want to risk it.

“This sentiment may not be shared by the urban communities but for those in the rural areas, losing BN is seen as very risky,” he explained.

Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) lecturer Dr Faisal Syam Hazis concurred with his fellow academicians, adding that all three PR parties needed to pool their resources and begin working the ground immediately to prepare for the general election.

He said DAP needed to move beyond its representation of the urban Chinese communities while all PR parties should share in the burden of taking on seats in BN strongholds.

“In the polls, DAP was obviously very well-equipped but the other PR parties were struggling with their campaigns.

“There is a need for PR to formulate strategies together,” he said.

Aeria agreed that the Sarawak state polls had seen a divided campaign among DAP, PKR and PAS, resulting in imbalanced victories between the parties.

On April 16, DAP emerged the biggest winners by securing 12 of the 15 state seats it had contested. PKR trailed behind, winning three of its 49 seats, while PAS failed to win a single seat.

Aeria said PKR’s biggest weakness in the polls was its lack of co-ordination and groundwork among candidates. He added that PR was still arguing over its manifesto even after nomination day.

“There was also no sharing of campaign machineries. It did not happen. Every party went out on their own.

“It is true that the leaders came together — Lim Kit Siang, Guan Eng, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat — but the machinery at the lower ground level... that was another story,” he said.

Faisal agreed that PR needed to stop depending heavily on the anti-Taib vote in the coming polls, particularly to prepare for the possibility that the chief minister stepped down before it is called.

The 13th general election must be called by April 2013. During the Sarawak state polls, Taib had promised to leave in “two or three years’” time, bowing to public pressure and the growing disenchantment among even BN leaders against his lengthy leadership.

The opposition had centred most of its campaign messages on calling for Taib’s early resignation, capitalising on the numerous allegations of corruption and abuse of power made against the country’s longest-serving chief minister.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak also spent six days in Sarawak urging voters to believe Taib’s resignation plan, an unprecedented move that PR had described as a desperate attempt by the ruling pact to cling on to its fixed deposit state.

“So if Taib goes, what’s next? The challenge is for PR to penetrate the rural seats. Overcome the struggle between the opposition factions,” said Faisal

However, the analysts also agreed that with Taib’s thumping victory on April 16, it was unlikely that the chief minister would relinquish his post before the national poll.

BN managed to triumph in 55 seats during the state polls, retaining its two-thirds majority in the state and safely recapturing government.

Of the 55, Taib’s PBB topped the charts by winning in all 35 state seats that it contested while PRS won eight of its nine seats, SPDP in six of its eight seats and SUPP in six of 19 seats contested.

The ruling pact’s popular vote, however, dipped considerably — from 63 per cent in 2006 to 55.5 per cent this year.

Taib urged to end 1966 ‘emergency’ proclamation

FMT Staff | April 27, 2011

In light of BN's recent success in the Sarawak polls, PKR vice president Nurul Izzah says chief minister must deliver on terms detailed in 18-point agreement


KUCHING: The April 16 decision by Sarawakians to deliver three seats to PKR was a indication of acceptance, according to national vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar.

Clearly thrilled at the delivery, especially since PKR contested in the ‘most difficult and most remote constituencies’, she told FMT on the morning after ’416′ that ‘we must talk about the success…must push for change.’

Sarawak PKR chairman-cum lawyer, Baru Bian wrested Ba Kelalan from Barisan Nasional by a 473 vote majority.

His fraternity colleague and state PKR information chief See Chee How won Batu Lintang and Ali Biju wrested Krian.

The wins, albiet small, was a message to Chief Minister Taib Mahmud, that his administration must change its ways.

Nine days after ’416′, Izzah forwarded her requests to Taib asking him to urge Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak to end the Sarawak Proclamation of Emergency 1966.

She also urged Taib to ensure that that the Federal Government fullfil the terms detailed in the 18-point agreement and to compel Putrajaya to increase oil royalties to the state.

PKR under the Pakatan Rakyat coalition has been urging that the Federal Government to increase oil royalties to oil producing states in Malaysia to 20% per cent from the current 5%.

Congratulating Taib and Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) over having secured a two-third majority victory in the recent state election, Izzah said: “Even though polling was marred by incidences of electoral fraud as well as weaknesses in the electoral process by the Election Commission, I admit and honour the victory claimed by Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu Sarawak (PBB).

“Thus, to ensure continuity and consistency of the Pakatan national manifesto and our continued efforts to fulfil our promises, I call on the Chief Minister Taib Mahmud to fulfil three requests I have made in a letter sent to him on Monday,” said Nurul.

Recalcitrant federal government

Izzah who is the Lembah Pantai MP said that on March 24 she had submitted a private member’s bill entitled ‘Emergency Revocation Act’ calling for an end to an era of Emergency not only in Sarawak but throughout Malaysia.

“Unfortunately, even though the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Aziz had agreed and had affirmed the readiness of the Attorney General to revoke the emergency proclamations, the federal government remains recalcitrant and unready to revoke these proclamations.

“Not only is the federal government not ready, any private member’s bill on this matter by any Member of Parliament will be rejected by the Speaker of the House,” she said.

Izzah said that her requests to Taib was in keeping with the fact that the Sarawak BN had received a fresh mandate and a second chance to prove its commitment and sincerity to Sarawakians.

“All these claims are made in line with efforts to ensure that this new state government will act to prove its commitment and sincerity to the rakyat in ensuring that their rights and needs are placed in prime position, beyond those of any political leader,” she said.

Although Sarawak PKR officially won only three seats, they are already preparing to file a petition over what they alleged were fraudulent activities in three other constituencies which saw BN win.

According to Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian, Pakatan had sufficient proof to challenge the election results in Senadin, Bawang Assan and Muara Tuang.

Senadin, especially has come under intense scrutiny as PKR’s Micheal Teo lost the seat to BN by 58 votes. During the counting a sudden one-hour power failure occured.

At a recent press conference Bian said the EC had refused to allow a recount for Senadin.

In Bawang Assan, DAP candidate Alice Lau lost to Sarawak United Peoples’ Party deputy secretary general Wong Soon Koh by 1,808 votes.

On Sunday about 100 Iban natives from three longhouses reportedly turned up at the SUPP headquarters in Sibu, where Bawang Assan is situated, to demand for the balance RM400 promised to them if they voted for the SUPP candidate.

As for Muara Tuang, the controversy involved BN’s Mohd Ali Mahmud whose nomination was initially allegedly disqualified for failing to submit his returns when he stood as candidate in 2006 but was later accepted by the EC.

He went on to win Muara Tuang seat by 7843 votes.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sokongan rakyat Sarawak terhadap PKR semakin positif

Jamilah Kamarudin | April 26, 2011

Dari 46 kerusi yang tewas itu, 26 kerusi menunjukkan peningkatan peralihan undi yang diterima PKR.


PETALING JAYA: Sokongan rakyat Sarawak terhadap PKR semakin positif walaupun tewas 46 kerusi Dewan Undangan Negeri (Dun) dari 49 kerusi yang ditandingi pada pilihan raya negeri (PRN) 16 April lalu.

Dari 46 kerusi yang tewas itu, 26 kerusi menunjukkan peningkatan peralihan undi yang diterima PKR berbanding sokongan rakyat terhadap Barisan Nasional (BN) semasa PRN Sarawak pada tahun 2006.

Pengarah Strategi PKR Mohd Rafizi Ramli berkata kerusi Dun Meluan, sebuah kawasan pedalaman yang majoritinya masyarakat Iban menunjukkan peralihan undi tertinggi sebanyak 31.4 peratus kepada PKR walaupun menyaksikan pertandingan tiga penjuru dengan Snap dan juga parti serpihannya Parti Demokratik Progresif Sarawak (SPDP).

Kerusi Meluan bagaimanapun dipertahankan wakil SPDP (BN) Wong Anak Judat dengan majoriti undi 1,642.

Peningkatan peralihan undi yang diterima PKR itu diikuti dengan Dun Kakus (25.9 peratus), Senadin (24.6 peratus), Krian (24 peratus),
Bukit Sari (11.9 peratus), Ba’Kelalan (11.6 peratus), Lambir dan Marudi (11 peratus), serta Baleh (10.7 peratus).

Manakala statistik juga menunjukkan PR menerima sokongan paling banyak daripada masyarakat Cina Sarawak dengan purata 65 peratus, diikuti
masyarakat Iban (32 peratus), Bidayuh (26 peratus) dan Melayu/Melanau (19 peratus).

“Peralihan undi berlaku di seluruh negeri tak kira dari bandar atau pun pedalaman.

“Kalau ada pihak lawan kata peralihan undi ini adalah undi protes sesuatu kaum tidak benar, malah sebenarnya semua kaum di Sarawak sudah
mula beralih undi kepada Pakatan,” katanya dalam sidang media di ibu pejabat PKR di sini.

Sementara itu, Rafizi menjelaskan PKR terpaksa mengubah rancangan asalnya dan mengambil risiko untuk bertanding 25 kerusi kepada 49 kerusi selepas ‘berpecah’ dengan Snap kerana tidak mahu BN menang secara mudah di 24 kerusi terbabit.

“Bayangkan kalau semasa penamaan calon PKR tak letak calon, BN akan menang di 24 kerusi terbabit tanpa bertanding.

“Jumlah itu mampu memberikan BN 75 peratus kemenangan secara mudah dan hanya perlukan baki 15 kerusi sahaja untuk mendapatkan majoriti dua pertiga sekaligus boleh membentuk kerajaan negeri.

“Bagi PR pula jika keadaan ini berlaku slogan “Ubah” itu tidak akan bermakna…tiada siapa nak ambil risiko 24 kerusi itu melainkan PKR,” katanya.

S'wak polls: Figures show statewide swing to Pakatan

Jimadie Shah Othman

Results of the recently-concluded Sarawak election show that it is not just the Chinese who have swung to Pakatan Rakyat, the PKR says.

PKR director of strategy Rafizi Ramli said today polling data from 26 mixed seats contested by PKR show a significant shift in support among other Sarawakians as well.

orange book forum klscah 250111 rafizi ramli"In Meluan, an Iban-majority seat, the swing from BN to PKR was as big as 31.4 percent," Rafizi (left) told a press conference.

Of the 26 seats PKR contested, the lowest swing from BN to PKR was 0.1 percent (in Machan) while that seen in Meluan is the highest.

Besides Meluan, similar trends were also seen in Kakus (25.9 percent), Senadin (24.6 percent) and Krian (24 percent).

However, while the swing was significant, it was not enough to unseat BN in most of these seats, he added.

Varying voting patterns among the Iban

DAP doubled its taking to 12 seats compared with the six it won in 2006, losing only three of the 15 it contested this time around.

Most of the seats are located in urban or semi-urban areas that have a greater concentration of Chinese voters.

PKR and PAS, which contested in Malay-Melanau and Dayak-majority seats, suffered huge blows, leading to the belief that only the Chinese were backing the opposition parties.

On the matter of ethnic voting patterns, Rafizi said the voting habits of the Iban showed that support had been erratic from one Iban-majority constituency to another, varying from as low as three percent to as high as 60 percent.

PKR won the Iban-majority seat of Krian with a convincing majority of about 2,000 votes.

"This shows that several different issues influence voting (even from the same racial demography)," he said.

PKR to ask Pakatan partners to share Sarawak burden

UPDATED @ 02:40:47 PM 26-04-2011
April 26, 2011
Rafizi: PKR does not mind shouldering the burden or breaking the ground but in my opinion, this effort should be shared out equally.
PETALING JAYA, April 26 — PKR wants Pakatan Rakyat (PR) partners to share the burden of contesting in hard-to-win seats in Sarawak during the coming general election to avoid a repeat of the just-concluded state polls.

PKR strategy director Rafizi Ramli told reporters today that he will raise the matter during the PR secretariat meeting tomorrow.

He pointed out that PKR had been forced to stretch its resources thin during the April 16 state polls when it contested in a whopping 49 state seats, a move that had likely contributed to its failure to win in more than just three constituencies.

The party, he revealed, had originally only been intent on contesting in 25 seats where it felt its presence was strong but had to field candidates in an additional 24 “impossible-to-win” seats when neither one of its PR partners were willing to take on the challenge.

“Even SNAP was not willing to reach a compromise and only wanted to field its candidates in the areas where PKR felt it had a chance of scoring.

“We did not have a choice,” he told a press conference to reveal the party’s first analysis of the Sarawak polls.

When the polls concluded on April 16, DAP emerged the most victorious of the three PR parties when it swept up 12 of the 15 state seats that it contested. Trailing far behind was PKR with just three of 49 seats while PAS failed to win any of the five seats it contested.

BN triumphed in 55 seats, down eight seats from its previous 63 seats during the 2006 polls, and had its popular vote dip eight per cent to 54.5 per cent.

While Rafizi stressed that PKR was not upset at having to shoulder the burden, he noted that it would help the pact greatly if DAP and PAS were willing to venture into some of the black areas known to be Barisan Nasional (BN) fortresses for the coming polls.

“I know I am the most junior and therefore I don’t mind to be slaughtered after this for saying this but definitely, somebody has to say it... and definitely these issues will be brought to the post-mortem when PR meets.

“We understand the fact that there are seats where a party stands a better chance but if we were to move foward, we have to take note that real change can only happen if Sabah and Sarawak changes.

“For the longest time, these states were BN’s fixed deposits simply because there was a zero presence of opposition forces,” he said.

He reminded PR parties that an election is about “familiarity and strength on the ground” and in order to make inroads, all parties had to lay out the groundwork by opening branches and electing leaders even in BN stronghold areas.

“You cannot expect to not do work and suddenly a voter who has never seen the symbol of a rocket or the moon or crescent starts voting for you.

“PKR does not mind shouldering the burden or breaking the ground but in my opinion, this effort should be shared out equally,” he said.

Citing examples from the Sarawak polls, Rafizi pointed out that in PKR’s contest in the Bukit Sari state seat, the party needed a staggering 45 per cent vote swing from BN in order to clinch the seat.

“And in at least more than 20 over seats, we needed a higher than 20 per cent vote swing in our favour to win. It was very difficult,” he said.

However, Rafizi said that the party leadership had not wanted to allow walkover victories for BN by avoiding contest in 24 constituences.

“If we did that, all they would need is to win in just 12 seats in order to form government. Any notion of political change as advocated by PR would have been hollow.

“The people of Sarawak would have ridiculed a PR campaign that boasts of a chance for change when BN is only 12 seats away from winning the state from nomination day,” he said.

Despite this, Rafizi noted that PKR had given a sterling performance in the polls as the results had shown that the opposition had made significant inroads with voters across all communities.

“The vote swing to PKR was unprecedented,” he said.

PKR, he explained, had seen a positive vote swing in 26 of the 49 seats that it contested, with the highest swing in Meluan, an Iban seat.

“Here, the swing was 31 per cent and what is unique about this area is that there was only an increase of four per cent in voter turnout in comparison to the last polls but yet the swing was high.

“What does this mean? It indicates the ability and the willingness of the rural Iban community to voice their brewing dissatisfaction of BN at the ballot box, in spite of all the intimidation and political bribery showered to them,” he said.

On the level of support from the various communities for PR, Rafizi noted there was a steady swing towards PKR and the pact in general from all the communities.

According to figures provided in PKR’s preliminary analysis, the party and PR had averaged 19 per cent of support from the Malay/Melanau community, 32 per cent from the Ibans, 65 per cent from the Chinese, 26 per cent from the Bidayuhs and between 22 per cent and 56 per cent from the Orang Ulus.

“This happened across the state, regardless of race or geography. So if there are any attempts by certain people to claim that PR’s victories were based on the protest vote from the Chinese, it is not true. The analysis proves this,” he said.

Rafizi added that the polls results had also clearly shown that the people of Sarawak were now susceptible to the idea of a two-party system.

DAP-SNAP merger not the best way forward, says PKR

April 26, 2011

PETALING JAYA, April 26 — PKR today welcomed DAP’s efforts to engage with Sarawak’s non-Chinese Bumiputera communities but insisted that a merger with SNAP would not be the way to do so.

PKR strategy director Rafizi Ramli told a press conference today that it would be unwise for Pakatan Rakyat (PR) parties to brush off SNAP’s “betrayal” to the pact in the final hours before campaign kick-off during the April 16 Sarawak polls.

The Sarawak-based SNAP, Rafizi pointed out, was still yet to explain its position and the numerous allegations that it had been employed by Barisan Nasional (BN) to split the opposition vote and ruin PR’s chances.

“SNAP never explained itself. Do not forget that its own president Edwin Dundang himself said that he was supportive of (Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul) Taib Mahmud’s continued rule in Sarawak.

“So we need to take all these into consideration... we cannot just forgive and forget and write off SNAP’s actions leading up to the polls,” he said.

SNAP, a Sarawak-based opposition party known as the Sarawak National Party, was set to contest along side PR parties to topple BN in the 10th state polls.

But in the run-up to campaign kick-off on April 6, the seat negotiation between SNAP and PKR broke down and the former party declared that it would contest in 26 state seats, irregardless of whether it would mean contesting against PKR.

It however pledged not to campaign against DAP and PAS.

Both feuding parties ended up clashing in all 26 seats, a move that PKR claimed was likely a strategic attempt by BN to split the opposition vote.

“That is why, my first when people ask for my views on the DAP-SNAP merger, my immediate response is that I do welcome if DAP wants to venture into the interiors... if they want to hop onto the boat and head to the interiors, or go the longhouses.

“But is merging with SNAP the way forward? We also welcome if PAS wants to open branches in the interior areas... by al means. But we must see the overall benefit for PR,” said Rafizi.

He noted if the purpose of the merger was to help PR spread its influence in the Dayak-majority seats, SNAP had proven during the state polls that it had little or no influence in the seats.

During the polls, SNAP had lost its deposit in 25 of the 26 seats it contested after it failed to garner at least one eighth of the votes cast.

“Logically, if you want to merge with another party to bring in the Dayak votes, that party should have a strenght of its own,” he said.

Rafizi stressed that PKR was not feeling threatened at DAP’s bid to spread its influence in the hornbill state but noted that the party’s concern was on the viability of the merger.

“There is no short cut to these things... we need to slog it out. It takes time to build credibility in the areas,” he said.

DAP’s Lim Kit Siang suggested the possibility of a SNAP merger shortly after the polls, saying that the party should take advantage of the “Dayak awakening”.

There was a significant shift of votes from across the Dayak communities towards PR parties during the polls.

During a state committee meeting on Sunday, Sarawak DAP endorsed the proposal and attempted to engage SNAP in informal talks.