Hornbill Unleashed

May 31, 2014

Governor Taib’s shadow still looms large in Sarawak?

Francis Paul Siah

As a writer and a Sarawakian, I’m mindful to accord the utmost respect and reverence to the highest office of my home state and its holder — the office of the Yang di-Pertua Negeri Sarawak and the current occupant in the Astana, Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud.

Responsible journalism dictates that we give due respect to the dignified office of the Head of State and its holder who is and should be “above politics”. Editors and journalists are duty-bound to exercise utmost care and decorum when writing about the Head of State who, in most cases, perform largely ceremonial duties.

But here’s the tricky part – what if the Head of State or governor (as in the case in Sarawak) is allegedly still engaged in politics or is believed to be actively involved in political manouverings in the state?

Taib is indeed one controversial figure. After 33 years as Sarawak’s all-powerful and untouchable chief minister, he finally stepped down on Feb 28 this year and conveniently moved into the Astana in Kuching as governor the following day.

Barely two months in his new job which should by and large be a ceremonial one, Taib showed that he is not one to merely stand on ceremony, that is if information on the ground in Kuching is to be believed.

Taib has been known as a master tactician and it seems he still has not lost his deadly touch. In Muhammad Ali’s terms, he floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee. His moves were and are perhaps even more lethal than Ali’s fists. After all, who could rule with an iron fist for 33 long years in a state where the opposition to his reign had been vociferous and yet, he managed to hold on to power and supposedly gave it up all only in his own good time.

But did Taib willingly give up his grip on Sarawak? Your guess is as good as mine.

It is no secret that he and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had a tacit agreement just before the 2011 Sarawak state election that he (Taib) would step down in mid-term.

This was primarily so because the chief minister had been a national embarrassment to the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition as a result of the widespread allegations of graft and power abuse against him.

Internationally, Taib also had a soiled reputation for alleged money laundering and building his business empire notably across the UK, Australia and US on alleged blatant tapping of Sarawak’s rich resources.

On March 3, three days after Taib stepped down as chief minister, The Edge weekly published an eight-page special cover story, reporting how he and his family members have amassed billions in wealth.

“Ruling with a tight fist, Taib had allowed his immediate and extended families to control 400 companies in every sector in Malaysia and hold overseas assets worth more than RM800 million in four countries,” the paper reported.

Although as Yang di-Pertua Negeri, Taib is supposed to hold a ceremonial role, the political analysis of The Edge sees him as more than a figurehead.

“He will wield more power and influence than any governor in history,” said its writer, Ho Wah Foon.

I couldn’t agree more with the writer.

Now, don’t expect Taib to kowtow to a prime minister who is 20 years his junior. There may be an understanding between the two men but Taib always gets his way and he always wins. Over Najib included.

To begin with, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) cannot even “touch” Taib despite the stacks of reports lodged against him. All that we heard from the MACC chief commissioner was that “we have opened a file on Taib”. The Taib file, if there is one, must be gathering dust by now.

Governor Taib’s shadow is said to be still looming large in Sarawak. It has been said that for the past three decades, nothing major happened in Sarawak without Taib having a hand in it. Such was the power he wielded and such was the subservience of Sarawakians to him, or so it seems. When Taib moves, Sarawak moves. When Taib sleeps, Sarawak sleeps. That’s the way it used to be, much to the chagrin of Taib’s bitter enemies.

Is that still the case in Sarawak today? It seems so with the latest political development involving Parti Tenaga Rakyat Sarawak (Teras).

It is reliably learnt that on May 15, Tan Sri William Mawan and his group had lunch with Taib first before meeting Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem. Only after these meetings with the two Sarawak bigwigs did Mawan, Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh and their supporting cast members announced their intention to regroup under the new party, Teras.

Why meet Taib if not to obtain the green light from him for their next move? Why did Taib meet the rebels if not to let them know what are the things to do that will please him?

Some things are as clear as daylight in Sarawak. And this is one of them. Mawan, Wong, the four assistant ministers and the other key leaders owe their positions to Taib. They are where they are today because of Taib. So, isn’t it natural that what Taib says, they are duty bound to obey?

The same goes for Adenan although he is seen to be trying his utmost to be his own man in Sarawak politics. But there is as much leeway as Taib would give him. After all, who made him chief minister?

History has shown how Taib divided and ruled the Dayak community. The Dayaks are the majority in the state and they must be split and their power filtered. Remember SNAP, PBDS, SPDP and PRS? The first two are long gone while SPDP will probably be shown the exit door soon. Only PRS led by the outspoken Tan Sri James Masing seems intact, for now.

And Taib has done it again. Why did Mawan do the unthinkable – quit as SPDP president to lead a non-entity like Teras? Your guess is as good as mine.

And Wong Soon Koh was able to entice Datuk Tiong Thai King and his Sibu group to join him in Teras. Now Tiong, known as a cautious politician, is also no ordinary businessman. He is the younger brother of Tan Sri Tiong Hiew King, recently listed among the top 10 richest Malaysians. No prize for guessing where the bulk of Teras funding is going to come from.

There we have it. Is Taib’s shadow still looming large in Sarawak politics although he is the governor now? What do you think?

As for me, I have to share this George Orwell’s sentiment, “We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it.”



  1. ” Taib once said in Sarawak I’m the king don’t make fun of me because at the end of the day you still need me.” As far as I’m concerned to do good things for Sarawak maybe it’s a pipe dream but to do the worst thing is truly possible for Taib. His greatest achievement which you and I may not find in any history book is his ability to weaken Dayaks politically, economically, socially,spiritually and morally. Under Emperor Taib Dayaks live in the lowest dignity. Morally and socially their degradation is almost towards the end of their total extinction. His 33 year reign had resulted in producing a lot of “maku” Dayak politicians but no Dayak leaders. Under his rule the “jegaless” Dayak politicians have forgotten their dreams that they are the right people to rule the land and not vice-versa. The Sambas Sultanate,Brunei Sultanate and Bandjarmasin Sultanate are conquerors. Throughout history the have done nothing good to the Dayaks except robbing them of their lands,wives,food and properties. For the evidences read the earliest books written by the Western writers who later became recent conquerors of the Dayaks.

    Comment by Hopeless Nation — June 4, 2014 @ 11:29 PM | Reply

  2. As the agreement bet Swak and Federal govt expires, it is no good to just agree to increase royalty. There should ba a state entity similar to Petronas, maybe petrosar!!! We collect all royalty and revenues!!

    Government willing to negotiate oil royalties increase with Sarawak, says Najib




    MIRI: The Federal Government is willing to negotiate Sarawak’s request to increase oil royalties from 5% to 20%, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

    “The State Assembly has approved a motion to seek an increase of oil royalties from 5% to 20%. Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan (Satem) has whispered in my ears about this,” said Najib at the National Level Gawai Dayak celebrations in Miri, Monday night.

    “We are willing to listen and talk. Whether it will be such an increase in oil royalties or whether we can look at other forms of increasing the allocation direct into the state accounts, let us consider.”

    Najib referred to Putrajaya and Sarawak’s excellent working relationship and stated that the Federal Government would have no problem negotiating the matter.

    The Sarawak state assembly sitting in May approved a special motion to seek royalties from the state’s oil and gas revenue to be increased from 5% cent to 20%.

    The Prime Minister is on a two-day visit to the state. On Monday morning, he visited the Orang Ulus in Long Silat, Ulu Baram before gracing the national level Gawai Dayak Open House grand celebrations at the Miri City Fan Recreational Park in the evening.

    Comment by sa — June 2, 2014 @ 11:39 PM | Reply

    • Sarawak should not only go for increase in royalty but to also participate in the oil and gas industry. The state should form an OBA – off budget agency just like Petronas to the federal government.The State OBA can get involve in both upstream and downstream business and service provider- eg supply of fuel oil and bunkering to LNG ship, JV with those foreign partners to set up the shipyards to undertake drydocking and refurbishment of LNG tankers now being undertaken at MMHE and Singapore yards. Example of downstream business is the manufacture of high quality glass for electronic industry. There are so many things that the state can do.The problem with the state is that there is no initiator to undertake this. Those in the Government has no knowledge on these oil and gas activities. If at federal level we have talent sourcing to lure those qualified to return back. For Sarawak there are many experience and successful Sarawakian working in oil and gas that can be lured to work and serve this organisation. The question is whether we want it or not. We must realise that timber is depleting very fast and plantation will be faced with stiff competition from our neighabour as they have the advantage of abundance labor. So this is the area that we should seriously looking into. Don’t only let Dayang, Naim or Petra or Brooke dock yard. Outfit like Assar Senari is too small to have of any impact to give the source of revenue to the state. The State OBA can also work hand in hand with all these companies. We see companies like Petronisa, blackgold etc come and go because of lack of experience and management. If there s a will there is a way to do it.

      Comment by John Dear — June 3, 2014 @ 8:02 PM | Reply

      • Agree with what you mentioned John 101%. I hope our CM will look into this seriously. We need a big push from the Government. Look at the large contracts. All taken by companies in W Malaysia. See how big they have grown – Sapura Kencana is a good example. See the development in Lumut and their activities in oil and gas. Samalaju current development is nothing compared with this. Eventhough Semalaju is not in oil and gas.Look at Asean supply base in Labuan – this company started in the 80s owned by Sabah Government is making money and is expanding due to oil and gas development. Look at Pengerang, Johore. Petronas will be pouring few hundred billion ringgit here to make it the biggest petro chemical complex. Singapore is their competitor as they are planning to be the LNG hub for Asia region. Former President of Petronas and staff of Petronas were also pinched to work in this Tumasik subsidiary. This former president is also the adviser to Sarawak. But problem is his influence is limited as PN is not on the same wave length with him. My advice for Sarawak to gain from the spill over on oil and gas, the state should pursue at least 3 areas – one, the upstream activities eg fabrication , hook up, piping etc. : second,
        downstream eg supplies of fuel oil, lub oil, napta, gas oil. Have our own Sarawak Stabilisation Terminal or Oil Tanking. Third, Maritime- marine activities required in oil and gas. eg development of out ship yards to undertake repair and dry docking of LNG ships. These are big and high value business. Now being undertaken by MMHE owned subsidiary of Petronas and also at Jurong and Keppel formerly Hitachi Zochen in Singapore. Each dry docking cost ten of million of US dollar. If we are not capable reap in the experience of Samsung, hyundai or Dawoo or if go for slightly premium partners – Mitsubishi H I. or other japanese gaint. This development could then sygernise with our Maritime College in Sibu. Currently our Maritime college in Sibu really in dire need of support in order to play a major role in this sector. We dont want to see our college produce graduates that will be employed as a costal mariner and not foreign going. The state cannot depent on ALAM for their youths to persue maritime study as this college only take very few students from Sarawak. Now they are busy getting foreigners to study in ALAM. We also need institution like INSTEP in Sarawak to provide skill to our oil and gas sector. We have poly in Mukah and Kuching but is not enough and up to the standard. We also need to have a master plan for a petro chemical complex in Sarawak. Dont let Petronas to initiate for us – it will take years. Even now Sabah is already thinking of Master Plan for a Petro Chemical complex in Lahad Datu. If we don’t undertake all this we will be outpaced by Sabah in no time. Sarawak should change their stance in this sector ” THE STATE AFTER MORE THAN 40 YEARS WITH PETRONAS WANT MORE THAN JUST BECOMING SLEEPING PARTNER AND UNORGANISED SUPPORT IN THIS SECTOR. THE STATE WANT MORE ORGANISED AND ACTIVE PARTNERS. AFTER ALL IT IS OUR RESOURCES. Please for the sake of all Sarawkian pursue these seriously as it is fir the future of our generation. We dont want to see our kids begging overseas and in West Malaysia to earn a living. Sarawak is still a better place to earn a living if we do and plan it properly. Don’t be late as we know the new development in SHALE GAS in Canada, United States, China, India and Russia will affect the development of this first generation Gas ( natural gas). Dont be too engrossed with Samalaju or HEP for that matter. There are more to develop than this. What it needs is a good think tank where our Sarawakian are not short of it. Few of the top guns in Petronas VP and SVPs are from Sarawak. So happy planning and strategising to the State and the CN. This is a new era for us. Cheers.

        Comment by Ali bin Abu — June 4, 2014 @ 7:54 AM | Reply

  3. Can Pakatan Rakyat make sure Sarawak State government led by BN is no longer paying rentals and renovating the former thief minister’s private residence?

    Comment by Awaken Dayak — June 2, 2014 @ 8:53 PM | Reply

    • The bastard has been sucking Sarawakians dry. He even wanted his private residence and lfestyle to be funded by all Sarawakians after plundering all natural resources and hjackng profitable state owned corporations.

      Comment by Peter Sawal — June 3, 2014 @ 8:55 AM | Reply

  4. I agree with your George Orwell’s quotation, the substance of its subtle meaning is in the works. Good comment, Bro.

    Comment by Anek — June 2, 2014 @ 11:40 AM | Reply

  5. Penang to set up scholarship fund

    In a bid to stem the outflow of talent, Penang is setting the Penang Future Foundation Fund providing full scholarships to Malaysian students.

    Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng noted that over two million Malaysians have left the country since Merdeka in 1957, driven not just by higher pay but also by policies in other countries that are centred on justice, human rights, democracy, integrity and rewarding hard work.

    “The fund will provide full scholarships to assist all bright Malaysian students and it will retain human talent by requiring fully sponsored students to work for at least eight years in Penang,” he said in a statement today.

    The scholarship will be open to all Malaysians regardless of race, religion, gender and geographical location, although he added that priority will “naturally be given to Penangites”.

    One of the conditions of the scholarship is that all sponsored students will be required to work for eight years in Penang either in the public or private sector.

    Lim pointed out that the state government does not have the financial resources to set up scholarship funds, and is currently looking to get more contribution from private businesses in and outside Penang.

    He said the state government has adopted a three-prong approach to build human talent by giving annual allocation to schools, attracting world-class universities and introducing vocational education with industry, as well as building Learning Centres and Science Cafes to stress on teaching of Science, Technology, English and Maths.

    The Penang Future Foundation Fund is another of the state’s effort towards retaining human talent within the state and Malaysia.

    The setting up of the fund was recently approved by the state executive councillor.

    Comment by Sa — June 1, 2014 @ 12:45 PM | Reply

    • A far-sighted government’s policy which is meant for the good and future of the country. It’s unlike some ‘governments” which are set up for themselves and selected few whereby the majority suffers. We know who are they and we must say enough is enough to them loud while there is still time..

      Comment by jw — June 2, 2014 @ 11:11 AM | Reply

  6. Taib with Tun title has immunity from any law prosecution?

    Comment by Sazali — June 1, 2014 @ 11:39 AM | Reply

    • No. Tun Dr Lim Liong Sik was recently prosecuted in court for fraud.

      Tun is just a title like “Datuk”. It gives no immunity from prosecution in law.

      Taib should be prosecuted for corruption and thieving activities.

      Comment by Bujang — June 1, 2014 @ 2:56 PM | Reply

  7. The way Taib Mahmud attacked the NGOs during the STA dinner showed he is still calling the shot.

    Comment by Eddy Stephen — May 31, 2014 @ 7:16 PM | Reply

  8. Once a thief, always a thief…

    Taib will be down in history as the most infamous thief Sarawak has unfortunately had!

    Comment by Anak Sarawak — May 31, 2014 @ 6:04 PM | Reply

    • There’s Taib, PBB, Swak, UMNO, Malaysia …is there any difference?

      Neighbouring Brunei is a totalitarian state & bugger can do no wrong. Is there a difference?

      Comment by Same-same — June 1, 2014 @ 1:15 PM | Reply

    • i read some where some one wrote mahaThief, now in Bomohland/ Bodohland, we are having taibThief…lol. it looks like we are having the MOST Thieves in our Nation, champion Thiefland.

      Comment by tiuniamah — June 1, 2014 @ 10:00 PM | Reply


    Comment by happy harvest — May 31, 2014 @ 4:28 PM | Reply

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