There’s something going on in Sarawak..

I came across an open email/letter on Sarawak Headhunter. I reproduce here some parts of the email. My comments in purple italics.

How did our CM (Chief Minister, Abdul Taib Mahmud) justify the fact that his immediate families and relatives managed to purchase so much shares in CMS (Cahya Mata Sarawak) ? Did our CM inherit a lot of riches from his parents or someone else ? We all know that he was brought up by a poor family in Sarawak and did not have much money at all.

Name of Shareholder No. of Ordinary Shares Held % of Issued Capital

Majaharta Sdn Bhd 44,925,102 13.64
Lejla Taib 37,000,000 11.23
Sulaiman Taib 29,465,085 8.94
Mahmud Taib 23,400,085 7.10
Hanifah Hajar Taib 705,000 0.21

Records also show that Hanifah Hajar Taib, Ahmad Alwee Alsree and Jamilah Hamidah Taib own shares in Majaharta Sdn Bhd.


Contracts were awarded by the state government to CMS (substantially owned and controlled by Taib’s family) for the construction of the new DUN building. CMS then subcontracted to Bina Puri (a subsidiary of a Malaysian listed company) for a sum which is RM75 million less than the awarded price.

(So what happened to the RM75 million? Where did it go, and who can verify?)


Many hundreds of thousands of state (and maybe NCR) lands have been given away by the state to the CM’s family members, relatives, friends and companies known to be controlled by the CM’s family or relatives and friends/cronies at very low prices and they sold some to the real plantation companies at 20 to 30 times the prices which they pay the state government.


In the case of Bakun, the mega-dam in central Sarawak which is still under construction, compensation to indigenous people and resettlement cost the Sarawak and federal governments over RM876 million.

But there are still Bakun residents who have not received compensation even though they left the Bakun area 10 years ago,” noted the auditor-general in his 2007 annual report.

(This, I suspect, is not the first of its kind. Promises made to the people of Sabah and Sarawak have a way of being ‘forgotten’. Earlier this year, when a Punan Bah settlement was literally burnt down to the ground, it was made known that the state government had promised the settlement to provide them with necessary fire-protection equipment 20 years ago, but they did not make good of their promises.)


Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB), which is 65 percent owned by the Sarawak state government, will fund the Murum dam. It was reported in June that SEB would issue bonds to finance the project.

Taib’s brother-in-law, Aziz Husain happens to be managing director of SEB.


SEB has been in negotiations with infrastructure firm Cahaya Mata Sarawak (CMS) and the multinational Rio Tinto Alcan to supply 900-1,200MW of electricity to power a huge smelter. A power purchase agreement was supposed to have been signed by Aug 31, and there has been no news since.

(Here we see Cahya Mata Sarawak again. Refer to the first excerpt, most of the CMS shares are held by Taib’s family.)


In the case of Bakun, ”cost over-runs of RM708 million were approved by the Finance Ministry even though the contract was for a fixed lump sum with all risks to be borne by the main contractor (a consortium of private Malaysian companies and China interests),” chided the auditor-general in his report.


From a report dated May 7, 2008

Global miner Rio Tinto Ltd. and Malaysian conglomerate Cahya Mata Sarawak signed a pact Tuesday to jointly build an aluminum smelter in Malaysia’s eastern state of Sarawak.

The smelter will be powered by the 2,400-megawatt Bakun hydroelectric dam due to be completed by 2010.

The company says the plant will create thousands of jobs and boost the Malaysian economy.

Sure, although I got a feeling that many of those jobs will be taken up by migrant workers.

[…] aluminium smelting is not exactly an activity that is benign to human health and the environment. In fact, aluminium smelting consumes humongous amounts of energy.

Loads of power, large tracts of land, and cheap labour — Sarawak is just the sort of place that Rio Tinto likes.

Malaysia is a signatory, but “as a developing country, Malaysia has no quantitative commitments under the Kyoto Protocol at present”, according to the Centre for Environment, Technology and Development Malaysia.

That’s not all. Sarawak chief minister Taib Mahmud says there’s room for two smelters.

(Now, this is disturbing. There’s room for two? As it is, one can only imagine what effects the soon-to-be smelter will bring to the delicate ecosystem in Sarawak.)


Please head over to Sarawak Headhunter to read more. It’s a very long post, and I’ve only reproduced here small parts of the open email.

Somewhere in the same post (I can’t seem to locate it anymore), it says that Taib has been Sarawak Chief Minister for the past 25 years.

25 years!

That’s longer than Dr Mahathir has been Prime Minister.

And I don’t think there is a need for me to spell out what disastrous outcomes can generate from someone having the same powerful post for far too long.


And there is one bit of news that I feel compelled to share here. Regarding the felling of the forests in Sarawak and Sabah, building dams is not the only reason. The other major contributor to the felling of forests is also to develop palm oil plantations.

Now, I’m not against growing palm oil. But perhaps it should be known of how Malaysia, in particular East Malaysia, is being perceived globally.

In New Zealand, there are activists calling for children and people to be aware that “palm oil is the one biggest threat of orang utans”. They are educating people here and elsewhere that countries that house the orang utans, namely Malaysia and Indonesia, are being irresponsible in their cultivation of palm oil, and taking no consideration of how the habitats of these primates are being destroyed, and the animals slowly becoming extinct. They are actually boycotting all food products that use palm oil!

Be aware. Plant the palms. But do it responsibly. Don’t just chuck nature aside and expect it to take care of itself.

Same goes to the indigenous people. Don’t just chuck them aside as if they don’t matter. Just because they don’t have a strong enough voice doesn’t mean that they can be trampled over.

And as the email puts forward this question:

When you came into office, you all swore on the Bible or the Koran that you would serve the people of Sarawak…

Dear Sarawak BN ADUNs and MPs, do you all serve the people of Sarawak or yourself, your families, relatives and your friends ?

5 Comments on “There’s something going on in Sarawak..”

  1. bangmalaysia says:

    Its shocking but this has been happening for ages now in Sarawak. Taib and his cronies are plundering the land at the expense of the natives. Thats why we need a change in government and not just a change in leadership.

  2. Antares says:

    Regime change is absolutely necessary and inevitable.
    Changing the leadership is akin to putting on fresh underwear without bothering to have a bath first.
    Leave it to you, Antares, to come up with an analogy like this. Such wit!

  3. jj says:

    Hi Michelle,

    I enjoy reading your blog, thanks for the insights. Do check out the short film on – I think the Sarawak situation deserves as much publicity as possible.
    Yes, I’ve actually just finished watching it minutes ago. But thanks anyway.

  4. bow says:

    Corruption is not an unusual practice in Malaysia , it has been a part of this country political culture since our independence. There’re so many cases of elected officials got rewarded like corporate equity, big item gifts, money etc in return of contract fixing. That is why the officials are so afraid of having a transparent, accountability policy and open tender system in the country.

  5. bangmalaysia says:


    SUHAKAM may carry out probes on the sexual abuse of Penan Girls.
    Thanks for the update. Let’s hope that “may” becomes “will”.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s