Hornbill Unleashed

September 4, 2014

Sarawak minister unaware of mistake in awarding land

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 8:00 AM
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Sarawak’s Land Development Minister James Masing told a sessions court in Kuala Lumpur today that there was a mistake in a letter dated April 2009 by his ministry in awarding Native Customary Rights land to two local companies instead of to conglomerate Sime Darby Bhd.

The two local companies were Nature Ambience Sdn Bhd and Vertical Drive Sdn Bhd, which are allegedly owned by Sarawak businessman Chew Chiaw Ann. The land in question measured approximately 50,000 hectares.

Masing, the third witness in the trial of former Sime Darby chief executive officer Ahmad Zubair @ Ahmad Zubir Murshid (centre in photo), who is charged with criminal breach of trust, admitted that he only discovered the mistake this year, following the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission investigations.

Quizzed by defence counsel Mohd Yusof Zainal Abiden during cross-examination, Masing admitted there was a mistake in the letter by then permanent secretary Chaiti Bolhassan to award the land to the two companies.

Yusof: Sime Darby was approved by the state as investor, but this is substituted with the two companies as per this letter.

Masing: None that I can see.

Yusof: Would you agree from these letters there could be an identification to appoint the two companies?

Masing: No.

Yusof: Do you agree there was a serious mistake in the drafting of the letter?

Masing : Yes, but I was not aware.

Yusof: How could you not be aware of this, when you are in charge of the ministry?

Masing: I was only aware of this earlier this year, after the MACC made the investigation.

Yusof: Is this a serious mistake by your number one officer (Chiati) in drafting this letter on behalf of your ministry?

Masing: I admit it is a serious mistake but no action was taken. I do not want to ask why there was a mistake at that time.

Yusof: Isn’t he answerable to you as he was the number one officer in your ministry?

Masing: Yes, he was then.

The witness said he was unaware that Ahmad Zubair and then Sime Darby chairperson, Musa Hitam, had met then Sarawak Chief Minister, Abdul Taib Mahmud, who supported the company’s application.

CBT involving over RM100 million

Ahmad Zubair, 56, had claimed trial on amended principal charge of CBT involving more than RM100 million, and two alternative charges of cheating.

The charges were in connection with the acquisition of NCR land in Sarikei under the Sarawak Upstream Expansion Plan.

On the first charge, Ahmad Zubair is accused of failing to take or instruct legal action between Nov 17 and 28, 2008, to rectify the award of the NCR lands in KJD/Lower Julau, Sg Julau/Sg Pitoh/Sg Jiet and part of Merurun/Meluan/Entabai in Sarikei to Vertical Drive Sdn Bhd, causing Sime Darby to incur losses amounting to RM85,023,047.20 for having to acquire Vertical Drive.

On the second charge, he is accused of failing to take or instruct legal action between Nov 17, 2008 and Dec 4, 2009 to rectify the award of the NCR lands in the confluence of Btg Rejang/Btg Baleh, Kapit and the remaining eastern half of the Merurun/Meluan/Entabai and Julau to Nature Ambience and thus, causing Sime Darby to incur losses amounting to RM16,816,217 in having to acquire Nature Ambience.

On the cheating charges, he is accused of failing to inform Sime Darby’s board of directors on Nov 28, 2008 and Dec 4, 2009, respectively, that the NCR lands in Sarikei had instead, been awarded to Vertical Drive and Nature Ambience.

Besides Yusof the other defence counsel were Stanley Augustine and S Devanandan while MACC DPP, Kevin Morais, prosecuted.

Meanwhile, during re-examination by Morais, Masing denied that then cheif minister Taib (left) had ever given directives to him or the Special Task Force chaired by Deputy Chief Minister Alfred Jabu, to appoint Nature Ambience and Vertical Drive as the investors involved in the joint venture to develop the NCR land with Sime Darby.

Masing also denied that he was told by Jabu or other Sarawak cabinet ministers about purported orders by Taib that the two companies were to be appointed as investors on behalf of Sime Darby, to develop the NCR land.

The hearing before sessions judge Abdul Rashid Daud continues on Oct 14 and 15, when Deputy Chief Ministers Jabu and George Chan are expected to testify.




  1. This useless minister better go fly kite. Only then, he will realize how lonely he is for all his follies and misdeeds upon the Iban people.

    Comment by Sharpshooter — March 27, 2015 @ 10:22 PM | Reply

  2. All the state and NCR land alienated for plantations to cronies of Sarawak ministers and or their family members were given in the same manner. So Mr James Masing, there was no mistakes at all in the drafting of the letters of awards. Do not treat the people of Sarawak and our Courts as fools. We all know you had been advised by Sarawak government’s legal adviser, Mr JC Fong, a recipient of state land himself to tell the Court that it was a mistake.

    Mr James Masing you can fool some people sometimes but you cannot fool all the people all the times. Mr Chew Chiaw Ann who owns both Ambience Sdn Bhd and Vertical Drive Sdn Bhd is a proxy of Abdul Bekir Taib Mahmud.

    Comment by Mata Kuching — September 5, 2014 @ 7:14 PM | Reply

  3. This is only the beginning. Once the Land Code is amended making it possible to buy and sell NCR by natives from anywhere in the Country, then the fun will really start to begin. In no time Dayaks will be truly landless. Just see what has happened to Bidayuh land around Semeba, Sudad, Tematu, Bumbok, along Bau/lundu road, along Jalan Biawak, at Siburan, Tapah and Beratok and around Serian town. Most if not all those near the main roads are already owned by others, and non-natives. Big names companies have been given lands along the bank of Batang Kayan to plant forest and instead they plant sawit. Various designs are employed to get land from the poor for giving to the rich. Despite all the good slogan – government for the people or “people first, performance now”. Sad thing about these all is the fact that the people who are denied and ignored will always vote for BN only for BN government to continue to neglect the people. Change in government should come. But how?

    Comment by Anek. — September 5, 2014 @ 2:49 PM | Reply

  4. Wow, 50,000 hectres of native lands given to 3 parties who have no rights whatsoever to own those lands. No wonder we dayaks are mirred in poverty and moving towards being landless. Orang malaya and cina given lands but we dayaks are being denied ownership of our own lands…we are truly and absolutely fucked!

    Comment by brian — September 4, 2014 @ 1:14 PM | Reply

    • Good!!!

      Vote BN. Vote BN yesterday. Vote BN today. Vote BN tomorrow.

      Brian, not brain, shit head!

      Comment by Hahaha, now you know — September 4, 2014 @ 3:38 PM | Reply

  5. What is new? The cronies set up a shell company, apply for NCR/state lands and, with political push, secure the land and go on to negotiate with the investors, become overnight millionaires or millionaires a few times over, with the connivance and knowledge of those “innocent” investors! Sounds familiar? The civil servants’ tagline is “Saya Yang Menurut Perintah”.

    Comment by Broad Daylight — September 4, 2014 @ 8:40 AM | Reply

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