Time to go, sir
To really stop the rape of Sabah and Sarawak’s natural resources, the mandate has to be given to the opposition so that healing can take place once again. This I feel much more important.Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak is struggling with the thorny problem of when to call an election because polls indicate voters, unlike in the past, are refusing to respond to government Najib must by law call an election by the end of April next year, but he appears to have been trying to prepare the ground to call the vote earlier.Alternatively, he can wait until next year when prospects might be better, but when it is just as likely that the burnishing of the domestic economy will have worn off and the ripple effects from the global economy could be worse.We are what we see ourselves as. If we see ourselves as crooks, thugs, tax evaders, we will become a nation of crooks, thugs, tax evaders. That’s why it’s so scary to see a government, a government we have elected to power, blackwash us. A noxious example is a new ad by the Income Tax Department. It not only boasts that every transaction you and I make is being watched; it also threatens us, suggests we are a nation of tax cheats.
A ground-breaking report released by Swiss-based NGO Bruno Manser Fund (BMF) estimated the assets of Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud’s family at US$21 billion (RM64 billion).
The wealth of Taib himself has been put at a whopping US$15 billion (RM46 billion), making him Malaysia’s richest man, outstripping tycoon Robert Kuok who has US$12.5 billion.
The report entitled ‘The Taib Timber Mafia: Facts and Figures on Politically Exposed Persons from Sarawak, Malaysia’ was released today in Brussels to coincide with a visit by the Malaysian Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Bernard Dompok to the European Commission.
It is the first report that describes in detail the business activities and personal wealth of 20 members of the Taib family in Malaysia, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, United Kingdom, United States and other countries.
The report aimed to build international pressure against the Sarawak’s first family and provide investigating bodies, journalists, Sarawakians and interested parties with hard evidence on the Taib financial empire.
BMF estimated the combined net worth of 20 Taib family members at close to US$21 billion, spread over 400 companies around the globe – all built through their near complete political and economic control of Sarawak – one of the poorest states in Malaysia – over three decades.
However, the research is restricted to Taib’s family members and does not include the wealth of Taib’s close associates, all of whom have benefited from the powerful chief minister’s patronage during his almost 31 years in power.
Taib holds three key posts
In particular, the family of the longest-serving Chief Minister in Malaysia has established monopolies over the granting of logging and plantation concessions, the export of timber, the maintenance of public roads as well as the production and sale of cement, and a number of other construction materials.
The Taib family’s business outfits, particularly its flagship company Cahya Mata Sarawak (CMS), have also benefited from untendered public contracts worth hundreds of millions of US dollars,” said BMF.
CMS is the largest private company in the state with net assets totalling RM2.4 billion in 2010. It has been awarded some of the state’s largest contracts including the RM300 million construction of the state legislative assembly building in Kuching, a contract over the maintenance of all 4,000km-long state roads in Sarawak and a 15-year concession to maintain 643km of federal roads.
The report claimed that the Sarawak state government enjoys total autonomy as to the use of the state’s forest resources and state lands, while Taib has abused his triple positions as Chief Minister, state Finance Minister, and Planning and Resources Minister, to award his family members vast timber concessions, palm oil concessions, state contracts and directorships in Sarawak’s largest companies.
“In 2009, his three ministries controlled 49.6 percent of the state’s operating expenditure of RM1.19 billion and 80 percent of the state’s development expenditure of RM3.08 billion, with the other 10 ministers sharing the rest.”
As Sarawak’s Planning and Resources Minister, the report explained, Taib has ultimate control over the granting of logging concessions in Sarawak that are worth several billion US dollars.
“Already in the late 1980s, family members and clients loyal to Taib were estimated to control over 1.6 million hectares of timber concessions in Sarawak which constitute more than 10 percent of the total land mass of Sarawak”.
All in the family
The report also zoomed in on Taib’s modus operandi as to how these assets were transferred overseas to countries such as Canada (Sakto group of companies), US (Sakti Corporation and related companies), Australia (Sitehost Pty Ltd), UK (Ridgeford Properties), Hong Kong (Richfold Investment Ltd) and to a number of offshore finance centres, in particular the British Virgin Islands.
“While the above-mentioned companies officially name Taib family members as their shareholders or directors, it is believed that many other companies are held through nominees.”
Individuals profiled in the extensive 45-page report include Taib’s brother Onn Mahmud, who is second richest family member with an estimated net worth of US$2 billion, while Taib’s eldest son, Mahmud Abu Bekir Taib, a major player in the Sarawak construction, property and energy business, is ranked third at US$1.5 billion.
Next in line are Taib’s Canada-based socialite daughter Jamilah Taib Murray (US$1 billion), Taib’s brother and timber entrepreneur Tufail Mahmud (US$600 million), sister Raziah Mahmud (US$500 million), daughter Hanifah (US$400 million) and son Sulaiman (US$300 million).
Meanwhile, timber conglomerate Ta Ann founder and Sarawak Energy chairperson Hamed Sepawi, a first cousin of the Chief Minister, has an estimated wealth of US$175 million.
Faced with mounting criticism, Taib had last year took to the Internet to defend his family’s wealth.
In particular, Taib explained that his daughter Jamilah’s (right) business was initially funded from his income as a Federal Minister, which his daughter through her business acumen expanded into a global empire.
“Well, my children make money, yes, quite big. I don’t know whether what they said 100 million is correct… in Canada,” he said in a four-minute video posted on YouTube a month before the Sarawak state election last year.
“But it all started (when) I gave money to my daughter. I was resigning from the Federal Government. I got gratuity, I gave some money to her to start a new business, it thrived.
“It is a property development company. When our town was still small, they had foresight to buy pieces of land and sell them quickly,” he said.
BMF compares Taib’s family with the clans of former Indonesian President Suharto and former Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos – the two families had embezzled between US$15 billion and US$35 billion, and between US$20 billion and US$90 billion respectively.
“We believe our research is showing merely the tip of the iceberg as many (Taib) family assets are likely to be hidden overseas or in offshore districts where information is virtually impossible to obtain,” said the report.
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today predicted that Barisan Nasional (BN) was “likely” to continue its rule after the next polls with a weak government but said this would be an undesirable outcome as the pact would be preoccupied with its own survival instead of the country’s development.
The country’s former prime minister pointed out that without a strong two-thirds majority in Parliament, a government could easily be toppled from its perch through mass defections.So the government is more interested in trying to survive and not ensuring that this country grows and prospersWhen a leader is preoccupied with survival, then attention to businesses, the commercial industry, would be much less,a strong government is necessary if we are going to do unpleasant things. We cannot be pleasant all the time.A government has to annoy the people. If the government wants to be popular all the time, then it would be doing the wrong thing,”
I don’t believe the PM is a corrupt man But like most Malaysian I think he is past his expiry date. His critics were saying this. Now his defenders are saying the same thing. There’s nothing more, it seems, he can contribute to our political discourse. It’s best someone more capable steps in who can better handle the affairs of State and control quick-fingered ministers from dipping into public funds for personal gain.Of all the people I know,Najib suffers the most from Wilful Blindness. He sees what’s happening around him and yet he is detached, pretends he knows nothing. Point out a wrongdoing to him and however bad it may be for Malaysia, his first reaction is to look away. He is convinced that what he does not see, does not exist. It can be crime or corruption, injustice or human rights violation, he can will anything away just by shutting his eyes.While this may be wonderful for his conscience, I am not sure it’s good for Malaysia. As everyone knows, Mahathir said heis not a admirer of the Opposition. If it’s possible to find a more effete bunch of bickering idiots, you will find them sitting on that side. But I don’t grudge them that, as long as they sit there and scream their lungs out. What we really need in these difficult times are better people in Government to take Malaysia ahead. Tinkering around with minor policy changes can achieve nothing. What we need is more definitive action and zero tolerance towards crooks.
To begin with, Najib believes (unlike earlier PMs) that his job is to take only economic decisions. He sees himself as a Super Finance Minister; that’s all. He is neither interested in Science nor Technology. Arts and Culture do not exist for him. He has never involved himself in Education or Medicare. Justice and Human Rights don’t matter to him. Nor do issues of Environment or Public Health. He occasionally concerns himself with Foreign Policy but only to the extent that touches upon Trade and Commerce. In short, none of the real issues matter to him. So people with actual problems have stopped approaching him. The joke is that the one area where Najib is focused is where everything’s going wrong. One stupid decision after another has killed the economy. Reforms are stalled. Foreign investors have fled because of a series of incredibly foolish steps taken within a short span that have driven the FDI down
The economic costs are staggering compared to the tax amount the Government is pursuing. Not only have foreign investors fled, even Malaysian businessmen are relocating since no one feels secure in an environment where the Government and its agencies can harass anyone they want on the flimsiest grounds. By raping the Jstice system, they have also destroyed ourPDRM, reduced our wages, and raised inflation to scary heights.
And what is being done to correct this? Fuel prices are raised every few months. There are talks about more taxes. We who were once claiming to be a economy Power are on the verge of becoming Super Poor. But what’s worse is the retaining of Raist Yatim , harbinger of the dreaded . The minister who killed our economy have not been replaced. Instead, efforts are being made to bludgeon public protest. By trying to control social media and ban everything in sight, from cartoons in textbooks to films, music, art, books, public performance, internet sites the Government is damaging Malaysia’s credibility every day.
Is this the legacy Najib wants to leave behind? An economy in coma, a harassed citizenry, the media under siege, our savings gone, and Malaysia’s fabulous growth story now a distant memory.
In a region where corruption is endemic, Singapore has remained clean. From 1959 when the PAP first formed the government, we have stamped out corruption. The challenge is to keep corruption free. We have to rid our society of greed, corruption and decadence. When I became Prime Minister in 1959, my mission was to establish a clean and efficient Government against the backdrop of a corruption-ridden region. We set up systems and processes to ensure that every dollar in revenue was properly accounted for: we sharpened the instruments that could prevent, detect and deter instances where discretionary powers could be abused. The Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB), which was under my care, has succeeded in keeping the country clean.
The CPIB was established by the British in 1952 to tackle the increasing corruption. However, little was done because the CPIB lacked the necessary resources and legal powers. When I took over in 1959, I strengthened the laws and the organisation of CPIB.
We tightened the law on corruption. Wealth disproportionate to a person’s earnings would serve as corroborative evidence when a person is charged for corruption. The CPIB was placed directly under the Prime Minister. And if the Prime Minister were to refuse giving his consent for the CPIB to make any inquiries or to carry out any investigations into any person including the Prime Minister himself, the Director CPIB can seek the concurrence of the President to carry on with the investigations. In other words, nobody is exempt.
Over the years, Singapore has established an effective anti-corruption framework. Leaders must be above suspicion. They must insist on the same high standards of probity of their fellow ministers and of the officials working for them. We do not tolerate corruption. CPIB has since developed a formidable reputation for its thorough and fearless investigations. The bureau has successfully dealt with a number of corrupt senior government officials including Ministers, Members of Parliament, senior civil servants and prominent businessmen. This is testament to CPIB’s independence. The bureau can discharge its duties in a swift and sure, but firm and fair manner.
The most dramatic case was that of Teh Cheang Wan, then minister for National Development. In November 1986, he was investigated by the CPIB for accepting two bribes totalling US$1 million (RM3 million). In one case, it was to allow a development company to retain part of its land, which had been earmarked for compulsory government acquisition, and in the other to assist a developer in the purchase of state land for private development. These bribes had taken place in 1981 and 1982. Teh denied receiving the money and tried to bargain with the senior assistant director of the CPIB for the case not to be pursued. He had offered to pay back SG$800,000 in exchange for immunity. The cabinet secretary reported this and said Teh had asked to see me. I replied that I could not until the investigations were over as I could become a witness. A week later, on the morning of December 15, 1986, my security officer reported that Teh had died and left me a letter:
I have been feeling very sad and depressed for the last two weeks. I feel responsible for the occurrence of this unfortunate incident and I feel I should accept full responsibility. As an honourable oriental gentleman, I feel it is only right that I should pay the highest penalty for my mistake.
Teh Cheang Wan
CPIB has been and is a tenacious and effective instrument against corruption. The bureau and its officers have contributed to Singapore’s standing, giving confidence to investors that has led to our progress and prosperity. We must remain vigilant and ensure that Singapore continues to be regarded as one of the least corrupt nations in the world, with a clean public service and businesses that abhor corruption.
Few things excite us more than lies. We constantly lie to ourselves. We lie to those around us, particularly those close to us. In fact, the closer they are, the more we lie to them. We lie to perfect strangers as well. Entire professions and industries have grown around the art of the lie. The more we lie, the better we lie, the more brilliant we are seen to be.
Creative people lie because that’s what all art is about. More people watch feature films than documentaries. More people switch away from news to entertainment channels because after a while reality begins to spook us. Fiction is easier to live with because we know it’s a lie. Readers prefer it as well. So, most non-fiction books today are almost fiction. We read what we find more exciting, not necessarily what is more truthful. Fifty Shades of Grey excites us more than Putin’s biography. Not only is fiction more attractive, more popular, in fact sexier; it’s more enduring. Even great actors are remembered more by the roles they played. Marlon Brando is remembered more as Stanley Kowalski or Terry Malloy or Vito Corleone, the Godfather, than as Calcutta-born Anna Kashfi’s husband or Christian’s father. The lie has outlived the truth.
No marriage can work on the basis of absolute truth. No employer would ever hire an employee if he or she sent in a CV that listed nothing but the truth. No woman would ever love a man if she knew only the truth about him. No politician would ever win an election if he simply spoke the truth. No business would survive if the entrepreneur valued the truth more than opportunity. In fact, no nation would endure if its leaders told the people the actual state of the economy or why the most crucial political decisions were taken. Lies are an integral part of our survival strategy. They are what make this world go round.
The calculus of all faith is a lie. The history we read is often a lie. It’s almost entirely documented by court historians hired by ruling dynasties to make them look good.. So their crimes are glossed over. The ugliness is airbrushed. So is the wanton bloodshed and brutality. Much of what we call civilisation is a lie created to defend what is actually colonisation of the mind. Most nations are born out of carnage and tears. Yet we create new mythologies that lend a purpose to our sense of nationhood. The America that boasts so much about its role as a global peace keeper is the same America that was built on wiping out its original occupants. Look at us. Do we know or even want to know the truth about what is happening in Kashmir or Manipur or the tribal hinterland? It’s far more comforting to believe the lies the State tells us.
The Wasseypur of fiction is safer to applaud than the actual badlands of Bihar where generations have been exploited by the State and criminal warlords, often working together. Law enforcement itself is a lie. Ask any victim, and there are thousands rotting in our jails without trial or justice, and they will tell you why. Much as I hate to admit it, even our democracy is a lie. We all know people in politics and business who manipulate the system through power and pelf. Even when they are caught, they sidestep justice because they know how to play the rotten, corrupt system. The funny thing is we survive all this because our lies that offer us hope in this darkness.
There are always superheroes who magically spring up to fight back evil. There are always placebos offered by religion, cults, alternative histories, articles of faith that we keep discovering in the hope they will lead us to deliverance. And that’s how every generation endures every injustice and finds a way to make their lives look better, their dreams look more real, their hopes glitter. If there indeed is a God particle, I would like to believe it exists in every lie we speak or live. For these lies fulfil us, make us who we are.
Mahathir came to power as a fiery grassroots politician who took on the aristocratic armchair like a true people’s champion – sweaty, grimy and gritty, standing for the rights of the people to their land and livelihood.Both partners showed a marked dislike of people asking inconvenient truths. While the centre fell over itself in an untidy heap by clumsily There’s more than just a certain arrogance of power mirroring itself between The one advantage that devil do posses is that they are above the law.To really stop the rape of Sabah and Sarawak’s natural resources, the mandate has to be given to the opposition so that healing can take place once again. This I feel much more important. politics is a matter of representation, a representation of interest groups. I believe that UMNO has failed to represent the interests of the majority in this country likewise in the past during their formation. What UMNO represents now is the interests of their cronies and UMNO putra and puteri. will no longer be a weak and corrupted BN government because PR will take over now. Just see how Singaporean paying less tax and yet they have one of the most well paid civil servants in the world by getting rid of corruption.mahathir, the country has been unpleasantly corrupted for over 5 decades under bn, you still want us to have those unpleasant experience?
In fact, this is not only a perception; but unfortunately, a reality. Since BN has failed to represent the interest of the majority, then the majority, as a matter of fact, will abandon BN and request for a change of government.”A government has to annoy the people”….what arrogance,spoken like a dictator! In case he hasn’t noticed,the people are already plenty annoyed with this corrupt,incompetent government full of nincompoops who continuously come out with gems that make them the laughing stock of the world,including himself!
Thus, there will not be a weak BN government, it will be a NEW government if Sabahan and Sarawakian join the force of change.about having a strong government are peppered with farcistic tendencies. Also your take about corruption in the civil service is already in motion for the past 22 years. Surely you are not that myopic to not see. It’s time for power to be reverted back to the populace whom the politicians must serve.Mr. Mahathir Mohamad, please answer the call from the Rakyat. Would Umno hand over power peacefully if a strong government under Pakatan Rakyat is voted into power at the upcoming general election ?
Mitt Romney was caught on video complaining that 47 percent of us don’t make enough to pay taxes, believe they are victims, are dependent on government, etc. The right question is why do so many of us make so little?
Moving Jobs To Places Where People Don’t Have A Say
You often here that competition due to “globalization” means that we have to accept lower wages and fewer benefits, because people “over there” make so much less. What has caused the pressure, however, is “free trade” agreements that allow companies here to close factories here and open them over there, and then bring the same things they used to make here to sell in the same stores. The only “trade” involved in this transaction is trading who does the work.
In places where people are able to have a say, they say they want better wages, benefits, good schools, good roads, parks, a clean environment, safety standards, and things like that. In places where people do not have a say, they are told they can’t have better wages, benefits, good schools, good roads, parks, a clean environment, safety standards, and things like that.
When we allow our companies to close factories here, where people have a say and move them there, where people do not have a say, and then bring the same goods back here to sell, we are allowing them to escape the borders of democracy. When they are no longer subject to the We, the People that has a say, they can do what they want, exploit workers, exploit the environment, and reap the profits of not having responsibilities to others. And because it costs less to pay people less and exploit the environment, allowing them to escape these responsibilities makes democracy a competitive disadvantage.
The Walmartization Of Our Economy
Another reason so many people don’t make enough wages to pay taxes is because we let companies like Walmart and Staples pay close to minimum wage. That is part of how they compete with our smaller, local businesses. Low wages, selling cheap stuff made in China by people with lower wages. (And by the way, we don’t raise the minimum wage to a livable level! This means that government ends up helping employees of these companies through “safety-net” programs like Medicaid, Food Stamps, and the other “dependency” programs Romney complains about.)
Also, bigger companies are able to use their size. They can also apply the advantages of access to capital that smaller, local companies and regional chains cannot. They can also take advantage of scale in their purchasing, negotiations, management functions and elsewhere. This is smart business, but then we let them drive down wages, and send the difference to a few at the top, without even taxing those at the top so we can use the money to make up for the circumstances this imposes on those at the bottom.
In “So DID Mitt Romney Really “Create Jobs” At Staples?,” I looked at whether Staples really invented new jobs or really just shifted jobs from other companies to their company. Unfortunately Staples didn’t “create jobs,” it grew by putting other companies out of business, thereby shifting people into lower-paying jobs. That is the Walmart model, Bain Capital model, that has taken over our economy.
Staples grew by putting local stationery stores out of business, local office supply, and other chains like Businessland out of business. All those small business owners who had local stores, making a modest small-business income, now instead are working maybe as managers at a Staples. From the post:
As Staples grew it overtook competing chains like Businessland and others. In other words, Staples took business from other, existing stores — often local retailers. Staples did not “create” jobs, it shifted office-supply jobs from local stores, etc., probably to lower-paying jobs. (The former owners of local businesses certainly were worse off from this.) They likely even lowered overall office-supply, stationery, etc. employment in the larger economy.
How do these”Romney job creator” jobs stack up against other jobs? Average Staples salaries for job postings nationwide are 51% lower than average salaries for all job postings. The pay at Staples appears to be around $8-10 an hour. That’s $16-20,000 a year, certainly not enough to support a family, or even pay rent in many areas, never mind buying food. (The 2012 poverty guideline for family of four is $23,050.)
So Mitt Romney complains that the changes in our economy over the last few decades that have made most of us so much poorer are our own fault. But he concludes that government — We, the People — shouldn’t try to do something about it! He complains that government — We, the People — are really just in the way of letting it go on and make a few at the top get even richer at the expense of the rest of us.
In democracies, We, the People, are supposed to have a say. And WE say we want better wages, benefits, and a piece of the pie. When democracies function, that is what happens. When the Romneys and the Bain Capitals and the Walmarts are able to tell us what the government’s policies should be, then things fall apart. Six Wal-Mart heirs have more wealth now than around 1/3 of all Americans combined. Mitt Romney has an income of approximately $440,000 per week.
And yes, 47 percent of us don’t make enough to pay income taxes.
The solution is to restore our, We the People’s, yes government’s control over these circumstances. Government is U.S. making the decisions and big government is us making more of the decisions. And when We, the People have a say we say we want to restore the virtuous circle of prosperity: we create the fertile ground for businesses to prosper by building roads and bridges and good schools, we help them prosper by providing good courts, regulation to keep the giants from domination and to keep the components of the economy functioning smoothly, and investing in research and universities. And then when the business are doing well we ask for good jobs with good wages and benefits and working conditions, and we collect taxes to pay for the investment that keeps that virtuous circle going.