Hornbill Unleashed

February 7, 2010

Sarawak BN Battered in Publicity Wars

By Pak Bui

The Sarawak Barisan Nasional (BN) government is struggling to cope with the new media revolution. In the not-too-distant past, it could always count on KTS and Rimbunan Hijau and their stable of newspaper mules: the See Hua Daily News, the Borneo PostSinchew Jit Poh and Nanyang Siang Pau, to carry its propaganda.

But the tides of battle are changing. Sarawak BN has been battered by blow after blow in the publicity wars.

First, Chief Minister Taib Mahmud was infuriated by Malaysiakini’s reports of alleged RM32 million kickbacks to his family from the Regent Star timber shipping agent in Hong Kong. Last year, Taib’s lawsuit against Malaysiakini was set back when the Kuala Lumpur High Court threw out his application to ban parts of the news portal’s legal defence.

The Sarawak newspapers then made up a story about “foreign instigators” being responsible for Penan blockades in Long Bangan, Long Belok and Long Nen, only to end up with egg on their face when the “foreign instigators” turned out to be AFP journalists.

Perhaps the biggest defeat for the BN propaganda machine was the scandal over the crimes of rape visited on rural communities by logging workers.

The authorities pulled out all their big guns to combat the worldwide condemnation that followed the electronic media reports of rapes of children hitching rides to school. Taib himself, Alfred Jabu, James Masing and Daud Abdul Rahman  all lent their voices to the onslaught on the Federal Ministry of Women’s damning report, but their dismissive remarks ended up as stinging slaps on their own faces, when their lies were exposed.

The Police provided muscle in the publicity wars. They dragged their feet, and finally shrugged and said they had no resources to investigate the rapes. They failed to make any effort to bring even a single rapist to justice.

One alleged rapist, Ah Heng, (Photo Right) even managed to make a Penan woman “Bibi” lodge a police report in Long Lama last September, to “retract” her earlier report against him in Bukit Aman a year earlier. This was the government and timber industry’s secret weapon to counter the reports of rape, but ended up as a damp squib.

The Borneo Post and See Hua fired their little pop guns, portraying the alleged rapist Ah Heng as a “caring husband”. He lamented that his wife and children had been “taken away” from him, to make the report of rape. There was no mention of the fact that , the “caring husband” was reported by local villagers to have already been married, even before his alleged assault on “Bibi”.

The mainstream media has tried its best to shut down the story of brutal rape, but it continues to run, much to the discomfiture of the state government.

Although rapes of Penan girls were reported as long ago as the early 1990s, the iron grip of Taib’s government on the state media did not allow the news to reach the Malaysian public – until the emergence of the new internet media in the last few years.

A bitter defeat to Agi and Rambli

The state government’s latest setback has been even harder to bear. Fifteen Iban longhouses led by Tuai Rumah Agi ak Bungkong defeated Ladang Sawit Bintulu and the state government in a hugely influential Native Customary Rights (NCR) land case. On the same day, the High Court also found for Mohd Rambli Kawi, for Malay land rights.

The government’s propaganda machine only managed to fire off a feeble volley on the inside pages of the Borneo Post, two full days after the news of Agi and Mohd Rambli broke in the electronic media all over Malaysia.

The newspaper quoted an unidentified “government source” as saying he was “surprised” at the High Court’s decision. The spokesman spewed out a rambling, unconvincing series of legal arguments, quoting legal precedents that he said the High Court had ignored. It was clear why the government’s legal spokesman preferred to speak anonymously, fearing he would be hauled up for contempt of court.

There was no such trepidation on the part of Dr Stephen Rundi, a state assistant minister, who ran onto the battlefield with nostrils flaring. Rundi raged against those natives trying to protect their NCR land. He asserted that only inherited land was NCR land. This gladiator was mocked mercilessly on the web.

Now the latest propaganda assault has been launched openly by the state government. The state government issued a statement claiming the High Court was mistaken in its use of NCR legal precedents and Article 153 of the federal constitution, in its decisions for Agi ak Bungkong and Mohd Rambli Kawi.

This confrontational public announcement, saying the High Court decision “ought to be critically reviewed” by the Court of Appeal, was clearly in contempt of court, and appeared to be aimed at intimidating the Court of Appeal judges next in the line of fire.

The instincts behind the bared fangs are very similar to those behind the threats made against the High Court and Court of Appeal, following last year’s High Court decision to overturn the federal government’s ban of the use of “Allah” in a Catholic newspaper.

Contrast this newly belligerent tone with the mild-mannered announcement made by Awang Tengah Ali Hassan in 2001 that the government would appeal the landmark ruling of Rumah Nor Nyawai against the state government, recognising NCR claims over pemakai menoa (territorial domain) and pulau (communal forest).

The government even went so far as to flex its enforcement muscle and tear down some houses built by villagers from Rumah Nor Nyawai in Bintulu, heedless of the negative publicity.

As the state government has suffered defeat after defeat in the courts, its tone has grown shrill and angry.

But instead, the government should calm down, think hard, and realise that no regime, not even the Roman Empire, could possibly stay in power forever.

Rather than humiliating itself by kicking and screaming, the Executive, represented by Taib and his cabinet, should respect the separation of powers, and recognise the equal partnership and standing shared by Executive, Legislature and Judiciary.

But there’s the rub: if the Executive were to respect the rule of law, an impending avalanche of defeats in court would only hasten the death of its land acquisition policies. Its land grabs would be put to sleep, perchance to dream of untold wealth lost.

The government has therefore been forced run the risk of contempt of court, in a desperate effort to wage the propaganda war over Agi ak Bungkong and Mohd Rambli. The government obviously still believes it can control the news arriving at rural settlements from Lundu to Lawas, and can convince rural Sarawakians that land grabs are really for their own good.

But with the tremendous growth of the internet, and with unfiltered news beginning to arrive in rural communities from relatives working in the towns, can the government truly hope to win this war of words?


  1. Sarawakians and Sabahans will be doomed unlee and until they overthrow the BN evil government.

    Comment by sang kancil — February 11, 2010 @ 4:07 AM | Reply

    • Sarawakian n Sabahan already doomed when they formed Malaysia!!!!!!!

      Comment by flyer — May 12, 2010 @ 9:52 PM | Reply

  2. While the alternative media is making waves in East Malaysia, the question is how many percent of the populace have access to the above? If it caters only to those living in the urban areas, it is of not much help as the battles are won or lost in the rural areas. Can East Malaysians who have access to the net, please walk the extra mile for a noble cause. Can you all please enlighten the natives in the interiors how important their votes are? If they do not wake up fast, whatever little they have will be taken away from them.

    Another interesting thing I noticed was the total lack of coverage of the Anwar Ibrahim Sodomy II, in the alternative media? Interestingly, is Anwar Ibrahim irrelevant to the East Malaysian politics? Since day one of 2010, issues after issues, shame after shame had been heaped on the country, without much care of governing the country. What will become of us, if this is the kind of leaders we have?

    Sincerely, we appeal to our East Malaysian brothers and sisters to please assist us in this noble cause to save the country from further destruction, can you all please? Looking at the past parliamentary results of the last elections, so huge was the majority of the BN, will the advent of the internet in East Malaysia help? And to what extent? Will it be able to assist us to neutralize the monopoly of the MSM by the Government in Sabah and Sarawak?

    Once again our East Malaysian brothers and sisters, please rise for the sake of our country. If we do not care it will go down much faster to the dogs and the ladder of irrelevance. Thank You.

    Comment by Osama — February 8, 2010 @ 2:40 AM | Reply

  3. It’s funny that, because there have been so much greed and unjust acts, “government” has not succeeded that well. The “Internet” is really humanity’s expression of rivalry to balance things out. Had they behaved, no one would have needed the Internet. Is that good or bad? Who knows?

    Anyway, now that we have it, we might as well use it before they can plonk down another on us!

    Comment by don duck — February 7, 2010 @ 2:08 PM | Reply

  4. […] just this speech Taib would be able to continue to stay in power and lead the BN in the next State elections. The successor issue would be put in the cupboard for now and Taib would be able to carry on with […]

    Pingback by Taib”Give Me The Mandate..” « Audie61’s Weblog — February 7, 2010 @ 1:26 PM | Reply

    • Don’t be too sure, Audie. Taib leading the BN into the next state election may be a wrong move as he is more a liability to BN now.

      In the last election, he could not campaign in the Chinese-majority area bcos the Sarawakian Chinese rejected him (they will again reject him in the coming election) and SUPP campaign managers identified him as the main factor of their worst defeat in SUPP history.

      Ask the SUPP grassroot, your so-called “stay in power” speech will strike them like thunder and resigned themselves to SUPP doom. George Chan may be one of those shouting “Hidup Taib” today but he could be cursing under his breathe.

      Will the ordinary Sarawakian Malay and Dayak (who are non-PBB or just ordinary PBB members who also have their NCR land robbed) as enthusiastic that Taib stays? Or do they now say that it is “pay back” (as oppose to “pay him”) time?

      Any way, this speech is indicative that “show time” is soon.

      Comment by Ahmad Osman — February 7, 2010 @ 5:31 PM | Reply

  5. “Sarawak BN battered and all the ho..ha….. about Penan girls been rape…. but still no action and guess their still emerge as the overall winner! They successfull get the audit report on SFC change and as said…nobody been punished of raping penan! Guess they are raping not only the Penan now but all orang ulu now!!!!!

    Shin Yang enroached into Long Lellang NCR; to the extend bulldozing rubber trees and also into the water catchment area. 2 Polis report been launch in Long Lama and SFC rep even visited the place but to date nothing happen or heard from them since….. BTW they stayed overnight with the camp manager in Camp-C Patah.

    Comment by fe — February 7, 2010 @ 9:05 AM | Reply

    • overall winner? at least not absolute victory when it comes to deceiving the rakyat. the BN government even pay compensation for the stolen natives land, well, at least on certain cases

      if you dont believe me that BN are not paying compensation, then check this link out: http://thebrokenshield.blogspot.com/2010/02/who-are-lying.html

      and you know what? the tides of battle has always on BN’s side for past decades. but just as the author said, the tides of battle are slowly changing

      Comment by nymph — February 7, 2010 @ 11:32 AM | Reply

      • Slowly changing…..but still there are in power? Bring down Taib, Awang Tengah, Jabu, Masin, Willie…..then will see changes…….the rest will follow! otherwise the Dayak stills be doing business on the road side….. become squatters…..long houses been bulldoze making ways for Oil Palm plantation.

        Wake up people!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        Comment by fe — February 8, 2010 @ 7:48 PM | Reply

    • sorry, i posted a wrong link in my previous post. actually i was referring to the case of agi ak. bungkong and Mohd rambli kawi.

      correct link:https://hornbillunleashed.wordpress.com/2010/01/28/high-court-judgments-reaffirming-native-customary-rights-lands/

      Comment by nymph — February 7, 2010 @ 11:40 AM | Reply

  6. I can only say “thank God for the internet”. It’s a wonder that the state government will try to suppress the spread of the internet especially to the rural area. Slowly but surely the spread will continue unabated. The Foochow controlled propaganda-ball-licking newspapers are being boxed into a corner and they know it. For every lie they tell, the internet will expose them right to their soiled underwear. Taib is not only at the end of his miserable life but his family fortune will eventually will be taken back by the rakyat when BN loses power. That time is nearer than he thinks.

    Comment by Ah Beng — February 7, 2010 @ 9:04 AM | Reply

  7. Just listen to the RTM broadcast! Mostly lies and deceit. The news-reader must be staring up a shotgun barrel, drenched in cold sweat and maybe peeing in their pants while reading the spin and denial by the BN YB’s. The radio is spared only because we bought it with our own money. Otherwise “bang!”

    A Dayak farmer who earn RM5K from a forth-nightly harvest of oil palm can buy truckloads of that cheap radio from China. He can afford to smash a radio a day than buy the crap harped by the RTM that is aiding the BN make the Dayaks POOR, Poorer and the POOREST in Malaysia. Shame on the Dayaks YB’s

    Comment by batulawi — February 7, 2010 @ 2:25 AM | Reply

    • Since day one we know they have shit in their pocket….but still we put em back on the sit….. we slaughter buffalo’s…pig…chicken when the visit the kampung…. big party for them; the kampung people has to call it day off from their field work to attend all this bullshit function…. waiting for rm5000.00 derma!

      Guess who put em there? The Dayak/Org Ulu right right? Dont blame the YB la……blame the voters.

      Guess what….Nelson be winning with thousands of majority come next GE even thou we know he just puppet for the guy up there…. before this he was renting house in kuching ans a shaklee salesman…. and he having property all over now….only his second term! with a YB salary……???

      Comment by fe — February 8, 2010 @ 8:02 PM | Reply

  8. I am from Long Lama, and now resided in KL.
    Hmmm Ah Heng look familiar…


    Comment by ShiokGuy — February 7, 2010 @ 2:13 AM | Reply

  9. Let me say this:

    ‘If the Dayaks in Sarawak & the Kadazandusuns in Sabah fail to jointly participate on a common platform (as an Independent Third Force), at the national level, they are doomed & their respective states will be raped & sodomised in such a manner it cannot be repaired forever’.


    Comment by svmbanu — February 7, 2010 @ 2:04 AM | Reply

    • Agrees 101%….. especially the Dayaks and the kadazandusuns…. kalau gaduh sama sendiri semua tunjuk taring…. tapi bila berdepan dengan orang lain i.e Umno or Taib…ekor semua kebawah macam…. kecut….. coward!

      For the Dayaks…..berlagak hero…megah…jadi apek bayat/kuli samseng…. sampai bila?

      Comment by fe — February 8, 2010 @ 8:36 PM | Reply

    • Sabahan is considered doomed…now controlled(dah jadi jajahan org UMNO)……

      Comment by flyer — May 12, 2010 @ 10:04 PM | Reply

  10. BN sarawak is really disappointing. such a shameless group of bastards.

    Comment by nymph — February 7, 2010 @ 12:59 AM | Reply

  11. Yet despite all the internet and blogs countering Sarawak BN’s propaganda, the rural voters would vote BN come what may. Even to the extent when all their lands are taken right in front of their eyes. Is this not ironical? What happens to their mentality? Just for some roofing sheets, generator sets, outboard engines and what-have-you. Maybe they should not be blamed. In their situation, what option do they have?

    Comment by malsai1206 — February 7, 2010 @ 12:58 AM | Reply

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