Whither Sarawak As CMSB shares Nosedive?

May 24, 2018

Whither Sarawak As CMSB  shares nosedive?


Image result for Sarawak Report

According to Bernama, the present Chief Minister of Sarawak, Abang Johari, has confirmed that the Editor of this website is still banned from entering the state.

He has not yet made up his mind whether to revoke a ban slammed on the writer, along with a number of prominent agency journalists back in 2008, after they visited Penan blockades protesting against the logging of their indigenous lands.

Perhaps the sense of threat in the minds of the leading party PBB and its BN allies as they contemplate how to respond to the changed political scene, is related to this week’s release of a statement by the state’s largest conglomerate CMSB, largely owned by the family of the Governor Taib Mahmud.

CMSB’s shares went into a nosedive on Friday as the likely implications of proposed anti-corruption reforms on the favoured position of this company sank in with shareholders. Those shareholders fled, showing a plunge of prices after lunch of 30%, before trading was suspended to stem the panic.

Image result for Cahaya Mata Sarawak and Taib Family

Explaining the shameful event, the CEO of the company, Isac Lungan, could not have been more frank in his view that revelations over the years by Sarawak Report could affect the profitability of the company in a new cleaner ‘reformasi’ environment.

In a management note to investors he said the catastrophic collapse had been caused by factors, of which the first was the combined effect of the Bruno Manser Fund offer to release research first published on this website and also the decision of the federal government to unblock Sarawak Report, which has articles spanning a number of years covering corruption in the state, including its largest company.

CMSB statement

“The following in our view, has led to the steep sell-down:

1.  Bruno Manser Fund’s offer to share information and unblocking of Sarawak Report website:

Possible reaction to an article carried by the Star Online portal stating that the Bruno Manser Fund (BMF) is willing to share information with the new Pakatan government on the Tun Taib family as a basis for reopening of investigation.

This followed a report on Thursday 17 May 2018 that news portal Sarawak Report, which has been known to release anti Tun Taib family (as well as anti-CMS) related articles, has been unblocked. The Sarawak Report website was blocked by Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) in 2015. The news they publish is now widely available for the general public to access, including reports portraying CMS negatively.”

The statement, which then goes on to list various other anti-corruption demands issued by opposition MPs in the state as being further threats to the company, is a open acknowledement that CMSB does not see itself as being in a particularly strong position to refute criticisms of cronysm and corruption with regard to the Taib family connection.


Otherwise, the threats of a small NGO and reappearance of a small online portal would not  create such a devastating impact.

Johari Cannot Make Up His Mind?

What the admissions of CMSB and the waverings of Abang Johari prove is first that Taib still holds a continuing grip over business and politics in Sarawak and second that the present Chief Minister and his PBB followers have not been able to make up their minds about whether to throw their lot in with the new guys in charge in KL or to cling to the crumbling BN coalition, which still holds sway in the state government.

It is weak and vacillating behaviour that will not impress local voters, who will be entering state elections in the next couple of years or so. Admitting that he has yet to formulate a position on such a crucial matter as whether or not it supports the new federal government has revealed Johari to be every bit as stunned and indecisive as Najib was on election night.

The longer this Chief Minister fails to make up his mind about the political direction of the state that was once known as BN’s ‘safe deposit’, the less safe that ‘deposit’ is likely to remain.

As for Taib, much in the way that Najib railed against Sarawak Report over 1MDB, claiming dark plots and plans for an ‘overthrow of the state’, the former Sarawak Chief Minister had responded equally disproportionately and irrationally after he lost the urban vote in 2011, largely because of devastating corruption allegations online, followed up by opposition progress in the 2013 general election.

Not long after that disappointing election, Taib had marched into the state parliament and singled out Sarawak Report along with other NGOs as a dangerous force. He accused the website of seeking to overthrow the state and of malicious slander ‘poisoning the minds’ of the ‘simple people’.  The raging CM even went so far as to suggest that SR’s motive involved a plot to re-colonise Sarawak and to steal its remaining oil revenues!

It was following this somewhat unhinged and disproportionate rant that Najib apparently saw his chance to remove Taib from the position of absolute power that he had held as Chief Minister, Finance Minister and Planning Minister of Sarawak for over three decades.

It was no secret that his power and wealth irked the new Prime Minister, who nonetheless used him as a model for his own subsequent pillaging of public coffers.  Taib was booted upstairs into the Governor’s mansion on a vague understanding that it brought immunity.

What Do The People of Sarawak Want?

As they weigh up their best options for the future Sarawak’s ruling parties ought not to be placing a priority on the perceived dangers of incomers, such as SR, BMF or civil rights and reform campaigners from Malaysia.

Image result for abang johari abang openg


Sarawakians have access to information and can form their own opinions with or without such visitors these days.  The Chief Minister needs to listen to what people are now asking in the coffee shops or commenting online.  There has been very vocal concern from the moment of the election that the state could yet again be left out of the progress that is now sweeping federal changes.

People want to know if the programme to root out of corruption and open up of freedoms will reach their state and Abang Jo needs to finally get off the fence and decide if he can afford to ignore that yearning.

Source: http://www.sarawakreport.org/2018/05/whither-sarawak-as-cmsb-nose-dives/

Remembering Zainon Ahmad

July 23, 2015

Note: I was reading Balan Moses on Facebook early this morning and decided that I should post his moving tribute to our departed friend, Pak Non, who was an exemplary journalist of my generation. I interacted with Pak Non as I used to frequent Parliament House when it was in session. He was always gave me interesting insights into Malaysian politics and our politicians at work.

He saw politics a kind of sandiwara by our parliamentarians whenever they appeared before the camera. Pak Non was particularly fond of the theatrics of Bung Mokhtar Radin, the fiery UMNO Member of Parliamentarian for Kinabatangan constituency in Sabah.  At that time, Pak Non was the Chief Editor of the Sun Daily  and media consultant with a column of his own.

I liked his style of writing. He sought the truth, as Balan says, but he was balanced and fair. Although he is no longer with us, I will remember Pak Non as a Malaysian journalist in a class of his own. As a friend and fellow Kedahan, he was indeed kind, sincere and considerate. It was my privilege to know him.

To those who do not know, let me give you his background. Pak Non won the Media Personality Award in 2010. Zainon earned a degree in History and a Masters in International Relations from University of Malaya. He had also studied newspaper management at the Thomson Foundation, London and was a fellow of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tuft University, Boston in the US –Din Merican

True Malaysian Journalist: Zainon Ahmad, affectionately known as Pak Non, was always preoccupied with the truth

by Balan Moses

March 29, 2013–www.nst.com.my

ZAINON Ahmad, who left us on Wednesday (March 27, 2013), had a lifelong affair with truth, his fascination with getting past the red herrings always at the fore of his private and professional life.

In the later part of his career with the New Straits Times, the teacher-turned-scribe pasted a telling note about himself to the pillar where the office printer was located. It went something like this: “I tell the truth as much as I can and the older I get, the more I am able to tell the truth”.

This was Pak Non at his best, a journalist who said it as it was, albeit with a levity reflected in azainonahmad_6 full-faced smile that took the sting out of his comments, leaving one with only the feeling that a lesson in life had just been learnt.

There was never an ounce of malice in the avuncular figure, who roamed the news floor to exchange colourful repartees with colleagues, many of whom knew the soft inner core of the man who always meant well despite his rare but seemingly cutting remarks.

Despite his years of experience, he invariably wrote with the verve, vivacity and wonder of a novice reporter handling his first big story.Pak Non, a name we always teased him about, given the many times that people telephoned the office to ask for “Cik Zainon”, dared to walk the proverbial (journalistic) ground where angels feared to tread.

It did not help in terms of upwards professional mobility or enhancing his circle of acquaintances (he had no lack of friends), but these things never really mattered to him.

P.C. Shivadas says Zainon’s love for the difficult story (his series on the Mindanao conflict was of epic proportions) was legendary as was his ability to outperform those younger than him in a hostile foreign environment. “He put himself in harm’s way to get the story. He was a part of that small and elite group of journalists who would go anywhere, anytime to get the story,” says the former NST group editor.

Pak Non waltzed through journalistic life with an ease inherent in those with nothing to fear but God in whom he placed his utmost trust. I, like many others, like to remember Pak Non as the man with short curly hair with a zany sartorial touch (he came to love batik shirts later in life) and a toothy grin, who often greeted close friends with a Tamil movie tune of the 1950s.

Philip Matthews, a former NST editor, saying that Zainon was the same “on camera or off camera”, remembers his failed attempt at becoming an RTM Tamil news reader. Rose Ismail, former NST deputy group editor, and Fatimah Abu Bakar, former NST entertainment editor, fondly remember Zainon singing the nursery rhyme, Baa Baa Black Sheep, to a Tamil tune complete with shaking of head.

Former NST associate editor Tony Francis says Zainon, who eschewed titles or awards, “was (if there ever was one) a journalist who deserved a datukship”.”He was content to do what he loved without expecting any rewards or honours,” he says.

Zainon and I hit it off from the start with our love for Tamil movies and songs.”I remember watching Nadodi Mannan (a Tamil movie from 1958 based on The Prisoner of Zenda). What acting by MGR,” Pak Non used to tell me with awe.

One of his favourite numbers, Pambera Kannaley (eyes like spinning tops), by late Tamil comedian J. P. Chandrababu, was a song he could sing at the drop of a hat.

One of his favourite pastimes at the NST was going for a banana leaf lunch with, among others, Lim Thow Boon (his partner in crime generally), the late John Pillai, the late Shaik Osman Majid, Rudy Beltran, Unny Krishnan, K.P. Waran and I.

The estate boy who grew up as Jeganathan, the name that childhood friends gave him at the Patani Para Estate in Kedah, had a degree in history and master’s in international relations from University of Malaya.

The Journalist of the Year in 1986 and Media Personality of the Year in 2010 went on from the NST to become the first editor-in-chief of theSun, later assuming the post of consultant and political editor there with a popular column, What They Say. He was a journalist’s journalist, a man after our own collective heart.

To his wife, Hasnah Abdullah, children and grandchildren, his former colleagues at the NST wish to say that it was a singular pleasure working with a man who did not mind wearing his heart on his sleeves. He lived an exemplary life as a journalist with a heart and died as he lived — with honour.