Kuek Ser Kuang Keng
While the furore against Sarawak agriculture assistant minister Mong Dagang’s instruction to cease welfare assistance to a disabled person is still boiling, whistleblower website Sarawak Report has raised another shocking allegation.
The website claims that Mong (left) and his party president James Masing are involved in RM70 million kickback from a land development scheme in Mong’s constituency.
The allegation is based on a letter purportedly written by Mong on June 18, 1997, as the state assemblyperson of Bukit Begunan to Kho Chee Pheng of Megaruma Sdn Bhd, a company based in Kuching, asking for the kickback.
In the letter, first exposed in 2010 by a blogger, Mong allegedly authorised Kho to “propose, organise and invite any potential investor(s) intending to establish and to develop on a joint venture basis with the landowners of oil palm plantation in the Kelingkang Range, (Bukit Begunan), Sri Aman, Sarawak”.
“I the undersigned hereby agree that the investor(s) will have to pay at least RM1,000 per acre and after deduction of the upfront to LCDA the balance will be divided 50 percent to the undersigned and 50 percent to Kho Chee Pheng,” stated the letter.
The Land Custody and Development Authority (LCDA) is a state-owned statutory body to facilitate land development in Sarawak, especially native land.
Wives, brother, own nominee firm
The letter named three companies one of which was to be used for the joint venture, as well as three nominees to be registered with the company chosen for the enterprise.
The companies named are Noble Reserves Sdn Bhd, Noble Resources Sdn Bhd and Noble Rewards Sdn Bhd while the nominees are Bawang Ak Dem, Leyta Kupa and Henry Yan Masing.
James (centre in photo) is also Sarawak Senior Minister for Land Development and president of PRS.
The Sarawak Report claimed that Bawang is Mong’s wife, Leyta is the wife of James’ private secretary Wilson Ugak, and Henry is James’ brother.
The website also published a document from the Companies Commission of Malaysia, showing the three nominees as major shareholders of Noble Reserves Sdn Bhd, one of the firms listed in the letter.
Should the payment of RM1,000 per acre come about, the total commission may go up to RM70 million as the letter stated that the plantation area was “approximately 70,000 acres” with investors having to pay “at least RM1,000 per acre”.
Although the letter cannot be verified, Mong’s purported signature on the letter is similar to the one shown on the letter to the Agriculture Department terminatingsubsidies to the disabled person, which Mong had admitted.
PKR Batu Lintang assemblyperson and native rights lawyer See Chee How told Malaysiakini that native landowners at the area, who had rejected the plantation scheme, are in the midst of bringing the case against the joint venture partners and LCDA to court.
The project was earlier pushed through by James and Mong on the basis that the local people would benefit, said See.
The Sarawak Report also quoted See as saying that both James and Mong had committed fraud because the duo had been trying to convince the people that they would be able to take a 30 percent share of the joint venture and share the profits in return for their land, but they were not told about the huge kickback.
“Under the joint venture that money should have been shared among the people, not paid to nominees of the very politicians who were talking them into the scheme,” See added.
Both James and Mong were unavailable for comment at press time