MACC: What more evidence you need ?


Video expose implicates Sarawak CM, kin in alleged land graft

A new video implicates Taib and his family in shady land deals.KUALA LUMPUR, March 19 — An international activist organisation provided today video proof of shady land deals in Sarawak that implicates the state’s Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud and his family, with parts of the clip aired on the Al-Jazeera news channel at 10am.

In a covert investigation, Global Witness (GW) captured on video dealings with Taib’s cousins and several other intermediaries to acquire thousands of hectares of forest land that the London-based activist said revealed the systematic corruption and illegality that lay at the heart of Malaysia’s biggest state.

“This film proves for the first time what has long been suspected — that the small elite around Chief Minister Taib are systematically abusing the region’s people and natural resources to line their own pockets,” said Tom Picken, forest team leader at Global Witness, in a statement released today.

“It shows exactly how they do it and it shows the utter contempt they hold for Malaysia’s laws, people and environment.”

In a 16-minute video clip, GW investigators, who posed as foreign investors, recorded snippets of their conversation with Taib’s cousins and lawyers, to purchase the land for hefty profit and which the environmental campaigner said would displace thousands of the indigenous people living there.

A recorded conversion with sisters Fatimah Abdul Rahman and Norlia Abdul Rahman — who are the daughters of the state’s former Chief Minister Tun Abdul Rahman Ya’akub and first cousins with the incumbent CM — provided a very telling glimpse into the means of how business is conducted in Sarawak to enrich the ruling elite.

Fatimah: Ample Agro belongs to my family, but my sisters, the four elder ones are in the company. The Land and Survey Department, they are the ones who issue this licence… Of course it’s from the CM’s directive but I can speak to the CM very easily.

GW: Can you?

Fatimah: Yes.

GW: And you think he’ll agree?

Fatimah: Yeah, he was the one who gave us the land. He’s my cousin [laughs]. His mother and my father are sisters and brothers, siblings. He’s my cousin so it’s quite easy.

The sisters said they were owners of 5,000 hectares of land given to them for a nominal sum by Taib, and which they were looking to sell under their company, Ample Agro, which they admitted to be a shell company.

GW: You’re proposing basically, Ample Agro, which is your company OK, sell your company, rather than the land. And your company owns the land?

Norlia: Yes… I bought that company as a shell company for this land.

Their lawyer, Alvin Chong, was also recorded in the video telling the GW “investors” how to evade real property gains taxes.

Another lawyer, Huang Lung Ong of Huang & Company Advocates, was also recorded trying to sell land for his uncle, a prominent businessman in Sibu, Datuk Hii Yii Peng, said to have close ties with Taib, saying that at least 10 per cent of the sale price would have to go to the chief minister as commission.

In its statement, GW alleged that senior government officials and a timber company executive said it was standard practice in Sarawak for companies to pay a personal fee to Abdul Taib in return for approval of timber and plantation licences.

London lawyers representing the chief minister have denied the allegations, the NGO reported.

“The Government of Sarawak issues licences for land in very controlled circumstances,” the law firm, Mishcon de Reya, was quoted as saying. “This is an administrative exercise, not political patronage.

“Our client never demands or accepts bribes for the grant of licences and leases.

“He has not issued any ‘directive’… illegally to benefit his cousins.”

Taib, 76, has been Sarawak chief minister for 32 years, having taken office in March 1981.

His personal wealth has stirred much controversy, with detractors alleging he gained much of it through dubious means.

 

Don’t Politicise Sensitive and Racial Issues, says Malaysia’s King


March 7, 2011

DYMM Yang Di-Pertuan Agong: Don’t Politicise Sensitive and Racial Issues

DYMM The King and His Prime Minister

DYMM Yang Di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin today expressed concern over the tendency of certain quarters to raise sensitive and racial issues and politicise matters which they should not.

He said the sovereignty of the Malay rulers, the position of Islam as the religion of the federation, the special position of the Malays and natives of Sabah and Sarawak, and the legitimate rights of the other races encompassing citizenship and fundamental rights, as enshrined in the Federal Constitution, should not be questioned so as to avert disunity.

At Parliament House

“I urge all quarters to uphold the rule of law and the constitution,” he said when opening the first meeting of the fourth session of the 12th Parliament.

Tuanku Mizan said that though Islam was the religion of the federation, there was healthy practice of moderation in the country which enabled other religions to be practised in peace and harmony and these religious festival days were also recognised and regarded as public holidays.

He said it was hoped that to ensure peace in the country, non-governmental organisations would avoid touching on issues which could jeopardise harmony and undermine the nation’s image when implementing their programmes and activities.

The Yang di-Pertuan Agong said that although the economy was now going through rapid recovery, as a nation that practised open economy, Malaysia must be sensitive to external factors such as the uncertain global economy which posed a challenge to efforts towards strengthening the country’s economy and subsequently the efforts to achieve a developed nation status with high income in 2020.

However, the King hoped that the Government Transformation Plan and Economic Transformation would benefit the people fully so that they could enjoy the improvement in the quality of life including education, health, housing transport and public amenities.

Tuanku Mizan also congratulated the government on Malaysia’s success in being placed on the 10th spot in the World Competitiveness Report 2010 but hoped Malaysia would not be quickly satisfied with the achievement.

On education quality, the King said educational transformation at the school level, particularly pertaining to the standard of curriculum introduced would be able to raise further the education quality. Tuanku Mizan also called for an improvement in the quality and skill of teachers and lecturers in teaching and learning besides maintaining dedication and integrity.

The King welcomed the strategic cooperation between the police and armed forces in tackling crime such as using military camps to train police personnel, to absorb former soldiers into the police force and to carry out joint patrols.

“I’m most impressed by this development because previously such strategic cooperation had been rare. It was a positive development that would bring much benefits to the people and country,” he said.

In tackling corruption, Tuanku Mizan called on all quarters to give solid support and confidence to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) in fighting corrupt practices, power abuse and irregularities in the country.

The Yang Di-Pertuan Agong recorded his appreciation to everyone involved in ‘Ops Piramid’ to bring back Malaysian students from Egypt following the unrest in that country recently.

He also congratulated national athletes who had brought glory to the country at the international level, including at the Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and the Suzuki AFF Football Championship, besides hoping that Malaysian athletes would continue to perform excellently at the Olympic Games 2012 in London.