Freedom To Ask Questions Is Key To Democracy

Astana files police report over comments against Raghad
A spokesman said the report was lodged by several Astana officers at Gita police station last Saturday. — Photo via the Official Website of the TYT Yang di-Pertua Negeri Sarawak
KUCHING (July 10): The Astana Negeri Sarawak has lodged a police report against individuals, who had allegedly made scathing comments against the wife of the Yang Di-Pertua Negeri, Toh Puan Datuk Patinggi Raghad Kurdi Taib.

A spokesman said the report was lodged by several Astana officers at Gita police station last Saturday.

Asked whom the Astana Negeri had complained about, the spokesman said it was against certain individuals cited in an online news portal’s report but he did not name them.

It is believed, however, that the complaints were in connection with comments made by
Global Human Rights Federation vice president Peter John Jaban and his associate, Robert Saweng recently.

They had questioned Raghad’s status as a Sarawakian and the privileges she, as well as her son from her earlier marriage, Nizar Mahmoud Madi, enjoy.

Peter and Robert had lodged police reports on the matter at Sungai Maong police station here on June 28, 2023.

In a press statement today, Peter said he viewed the police report against him and his associates as an attempt to stifle debate on the status and position of a public figure, although that information was already in the public domain and subject of several news reports.

Our comment

Why do the staff of the Astana insist on making this sort of undignified spectacle of themselves, trooping down to the police station because people have asked questions about the status of a public figure?

If the public figure’s status is legitimate under the law, which in this case it probably is, then simply issue a statement with evidence to make that point. If it is not, don’t seek to intimidate.

Certainly, by responding in this manner the Astana are giving the impression they are rattled by the questions being asked, which is likely to produce the exact opposite of what they seem to hope to achieve in terms of public opinion.

There is frustration in a state where so many indigenous folk have been denied their rights of citizenship, meaning the poorest are deprived schooling and charged a fortune if they need to go to hospital.

This is why there is so much anger when a naive and pampered foreign born son of a foreign born mother flashes his Blue IC card on Instagram between wiping his ketchup stained mouth with bank notes.

He got his IC card because his elderly stepfather is the Governor of the state. If the process was legitimate then simply make that clear and shut up the critics. Why threaten police harassment as if to stop others from raising the same questions?

Meanwhile, the case brought by the Governor’s actual children against the mother in this case (Taib’s second wife Ragad who seems to be behind much of the present decision-making at the Astana) is rather more relevant and yet barely covered by the likes of the Borneo Post.

Taib’s children are suing over how she has procured family assets during an evident period of decline in their father’s health. Most Sarawakians would agree with their stance, but would also demand for a thorough examination as to how the family acquired such unexplained wealth in the first place.

Likewise, the lucrative large plots of former native lands suddenly transferred from the Governor’s possession to his wife.

All this points to the yawning absence of any public appearances by the said elderly Governor. This has now stretched to some weeks, despite yet more trips to the police station by the staff of the Astana to claim their boss is hale and hearty and threaten those who would like to be shown more proof.

Why has Madame Ragad’s Instagram page, which was in the past prolific in posting loving poses of her and her grandpop husband, gone silent? Why, given the rumours, has there been no attempt to stage a public appearance or even a holiday snap?

A picture of Taib holding the Borneo Post with today’s date on it would do the job. No need to keep tripping off to the police station. Failing that Sarawakians are much looking forward the Governor’s traditional appearance at the Independence Day celebrations later this month.

That would certainly end the sense felt by so many in Sarawak right now that decisions are being made not by the Governor but by a second wife who is in conflict with his own family.

Sir Galahad Runs Out Of Steam?

Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Tiong King Sing appears set to be a no-show at the MACC headquarters in Putrajaya today.

The media have been waiting for the minister and the tourist he “rescued” from the KLIA last week since 8am, but have not spotted either of them.

They were supposed to be questioned by the MACC today over an incident at the airport, when the tourist – a China national – was denied entry.

Tiong claimed there was corruption involved in the incident, prompting a probe by the MACC.


Our comment

Having made a fine spectacle of his gallantry over the weekend, the bouncing Sarawak GPS Tourism Minister appears to have failed to carry out his ‘clean up operation’ against KLIA Immigration Services, in that he did not turn up as promised at the MACC.

What provoked this minister to rush personally overnight to the airport to secure the release of a young female Chinese official who had been detained by immigration (for reasons unknown) therefore remains unclear.

Why did he not just pick up the phone to the person in charge of such matters and allow due process to ensue?

If he suspected ‘corruption’ was involved in her detainment why has he not gone to the MACC to present his evidence?

Clearly there is a certain level of dignity accorded to his office and on several grounds it would, whatever the circumstances, have been better to have allowed a lesser person to go down to the airport, apparently late at night, to pick this lady up having demanded her release.

Advisors ought to suggest to this minister that protocol and decorum will protect him from general astonishment and the media furore that all this has provoked in future. If there are concerns about the behaviour of immigration officers he ought certainly bring this up with the appropriate ministry (not his) at the soonest convenience and urge a proper investigation by the right people.

He should meanwhile stable his white horse and resist the impulse to personally rescue young ladies in such a dramatic and newsworthy fashion should future concerns arise.

Sarawak Timber Giant Fined $40 m For Transfer Pricing Scam In PNG

A major logging operator in Papua New Guinea has been charged a whopping K140 million [$40m] for tax evasion, Internal Revenue Commission (IRC) boss Sam Koim announced yesterday…. for engaging in illicit tax evasion, specifically through transfer pricing.

This amended assessment (tax bill) is a direct outcome of an extensive transfer pricing audit .. the Commissioner General, Sam Koim, revealed when announcing the outcome of the first of more than twenty audits initiated since he took office.

He said “the logging sector in PNG has long been suspected of involvement in tax evasion. Instead of turning a blind eye, we have initiated over twenty audits since I took office.”

Our comment

PNG’s anti-corruption champion and now chief prosecutor, Sam Koim, did not name the logging company which has thus had its tax bill revised upwards.

However, Sarawak Report has been reliably informed that it is a subsidiary of one of the major Sarawak timber companies which have been operating in Papua New Guinea in exactly the way they operate back home, destroying millions of hectares of virgin forest.

According to Koim the so-called practice of ‘transfer pricing’ has explained in this particular case how it was that the company mysteriously made meagre profits from its logging operations and yet appeared to flourish and kept coming back for more.

The same scam has often been suspected in Sarawak over past decades where, likewise, the logging giants have appeared to have sold their laden cargoes of timber for a miserable profit and yet persisted with their destructive business.

In short, the company is said to sell to itself or an accomplice based somewhere like Singapore. At which point the ‘buyer’ then re-sells their dirt cheap bargain on the global market for a much higher price.

The taxman is only informed of the original sale meaning that the state and local folk receive little or no benefit from brutal extraction of their valuable resources.

Having dug into several transactions Koim clearly believes he has proven in this case that this was practice that was going on with this major Sarawak concern. He has another twenty cases under investigation involving largely the same handful of companies that first chewed up Sarawak and then invested in logging elsewhere.

It is high time that the federal authorities in Malaysia did the same thing with a rigorous deep dive into all the books of the so-called Sarawak Big Six timber companies who have so very unconvincingly been telling all and sundry that they have been charitably operating for very little profit for the past half century.

Any politicians who, unlike Sam Koim, have decided to take major donations for their campaigns and turn a blind eye instead ought to have plenty to worry about the moment such an investigation is launched in Sarawak.

It would appear that billions have gone missing and therefore billions are owed. What’s more tax evasion is a serious crime for which it is never too late to prosecute. Sarawak and Malaysia deserve recompense.

Why Has The Astana Negeri Sarawak Issued Threats But No Photo-Ops?

Astana officials file police report over fake news on Sarawak TYT’s health, well-being:

Astana Negeri Sarawak officials lodged a police report today over fake news regarding the health and well-being of the Head of State, Taib Mahmud, on various social media platforms.

The Governor’s press secretary Peter Sibon said no specific names were given as it is up to the police to conduct their investigation and take the necessary action….

According to Peter, the police will investigate the case under Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 for offences of using network facilities to transmit communication deemed to be offensive or could cause annoyance to another person.

The Section provides for up to one year in jail, a fine up to RM50,000, or both upon conviction.

The Astana Negeri Sarawak officials also lodged a similar report with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission for further investigation.

A statement issued by the Astana Negeri Sarawak yesterday said Taib is well and in good stead.

The statement said all news unverified by the Astana regarding the Governor’s well-being which had gone viral were completely fake and untrue.




Our comment

It was as long ago as Thursday that the Astana Negeri Sarawak took the highly unusual step of issuing a press release to state that the Governor is “well and in good stead” contrary to what it admits has been “viralled and unverified news regarding the wellbeing of Tun in social media platforms” that “are completely fake and untrue.”

The following day, the officials took a further public step in the form of a naked threat to the media or any individual who dares to speculate on the Governor’s health by posturing outside a police station where they say they have made a police report, under Malaysia’s notorious ‘Fake News’ laws, against unspecified people who they say have used social media platforms to pass ‘untrue information’.

The officials waived their report against these anonymous folk and their unspecified ‘fake news’, encouraging the media to remind the world that in Malaysia someone can be landed with ‘up to one year in jail, a fine up to RM50,000, or both upon conviction’ thanks to this law re-vamped under former prime minster Najib Razak. This for “a communication deemed to be offensive or could cause annoyance to another person.

Najib himself charged Sarawak Report under this very law for alleged ‘fake news’ regarding 1MDB – presumably we annoyed him.

It is to be noted that it is in fact Najib who is now in jail (for 12 years and rising) because what Sarawak Report published was in fact entirely true.

Meanwhile, since those extremely heavy handed and unusual actions there has been no further report whatsoever emanating from the Astana relating to the hale and heartiness of the Governor.

Nor has there been any sighting of the head of state who was reported (apparently untruthfully) to have been taken ill whilst flying with his wife Ragad by private jet to Turkey. If the head of state is indeed in excellent health, as claimed, then five days is quite long enough for him to have arranged to be seen functioning at some official or social event in order to lay concerns to rest.

This would be far more effective in silencing untrue speculation than sending underlings to issue threats outside a police station.

Alternatively, if the Governor is unwell then why not say so? It happens.  If he is very unwell the people have a right to know and to be assured that provisions are being made.

In the absence of further information people are naturally left wondering and whispering instead. Some have said he is being treated in Kuching others say he has been taken into hospital in Turkey – it is a law of fake news that speculation fills a media vacuum and apparently fake news is what the Astana has been seeking to avoid.

Confidence in the transparency of this state government has been therefore further undermined (if possible).

Anyone can see that this over-reaction by the Astana Negeri Sarawak has only fuelled the speculation and fanned concerns, particularly given the secretiveness and deceptiveness of the past. Why were Taib’s officials the only one being photographed making dire threats outside a police station when it would be so much easier for the Governor to speak for himself and put an end to all the gossip?

As for throwing folk in jail, the people have a right to know if their head of state is fit to govern, temporarily indisposed or at death’s door. They also have a right to speculate when such speculation can so easily be put to rest.

The legal complaint by Taib’s children against his second wife, which has simultaneously flared up in recent days as Ragad suddenly started to acquire large chunks of Taib’s assets, apparently at his behest, meanwhile continues ….. and continues to raise questions about what exactly is going on behind the firmly shut doors of the Governor’s mansion.

US Adopting Bad Old Ways?

The nominee to be the next US ambassador to Malaysia said yesterday he saw the potential for the United States to expand cooperation with the South-east Asian country in diversifying supply chains for rare earths and other critical minerals.

Edgard Kagan, a career diplomat who is currently the senior official for East Asia at the White House National Security Council, told his Senate confirmation hearing that developing new sources for critical minerals to ensure reliable supply chains was a very high priority for the Biden administration.

“The importance of working on these arrangements with countries where we have good relationships… is absolutely critical,” he said, adding: “I think that we have real potential to do that in countries like Malaysia.”

“I would want to work closely with the American private sector, with different parts of the US government, and with the Malaysian government to ensure that we’re able to continue expanding the areas of cooperation in this, support development of resources,” he said.

Our comment

By these remarks is the prospective US Ambassador indicating that he plans to put pressure on the Malaysian government to reverse its policy on the Lynas ‘rare earth plant’ in Pahang in order to continue with the production of hazardous materials imported from Australia?

Permission to process these rare earths in Pahang was accompanied, under the kleptocrat Najib government, by a highly dubious $100 million contract to a royal owned company to dispose of the toxic waste – a job it was plainly unqualified to do.

Heaps of low level radio-active material have therefore lain around the site, forming a long-term health hazard for the people of the region and endangering the precious eco-systems of the water table.

The post-Najib reforming governments have ordered that this must stop and have politely given time for Lynas to alter its arrangements, despite the concerns for Malaysian people.

Naturally, the Australian company has pushed back because it built the plant in Malaysia owing to reluctance by local people in Australia to host the toxic materials in their own country.

However, the US ought not to add its pressure on the grounds of its hard won good relations with Malaysia. This rare earth is mined in AUSTRALIA, which is also an ally of the United States and a country equally concerned about the strategic value of these metals.

That is where the material ought to be kept and responsibly processed rather that having it transported thousands of miles to Malaysia where the company chosen to handle the material was selected on political rather than safety grounds.

If the US wish to maintain their good relations with countries like Malaysia (and not go back to neo-colonialist ways) then they need to respect Malaysian lives as much as they respect Australian lives and not expect a weaker country to act as a dustbin for wealthier economies like theirs.

Let Them Eat Cake?

Johor ruler Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar is now the proud owner of the country’s most expensive number plate to date.

Transport Minister Anthony Loke revealed that Sultan Ibrahim had paid RM1.2 million to the government to acquire “FF 1” from the Road Transport Department’s (RTD) special “FF” series.

In a Facebook post today, Loke said he was granted an audience with the southern state ruler to hand over the unique number plate.

“For the record, the payment of RM1.2 million is the highest value ever collected by the government for the registration of a vehicle number plate!

…. Sultan Ibrahim, who owns a lavish car collection, is no stranger to winning bids and paying a hefty amount for highly sought-after number plates.

In 2016, His Majesty bought the “F 1” registration number after making a winning bid of RM836,660 for it. A month later, he splurged another RM989,780 for the “V 1” plate.

Sultan Ibrahim had previously also won the bids for the “W1N” and “WWW1” number plates for RM748,000 and RM520,000 respectively.

Our comment

It is to be hoped the money gained by the government will be put to good use in return for yet another absurd luxury for a member of Malaysia’s super-consumer elite.

However, those with humbler appetites for ostentation and luxury are likely to be thinking of all the good uses that a million plus ringgit could have been put to to ameliorate the lives of the poverty stricken classes in that state.

Early nurseries and baby milk for poor mothers?  Any kind of sustenance for those suffering the worst of the high global food prices would do.

Roads are useful and the oil-rich country has plenty of them to benefit the owners of fleets of cars. However, in Malaysia too many are left behind and it would appear that the minds of those with plenty of cash are not focused on their duties towards those people.

Cheapest Tariffs In Malaysia!

Sarawak’s electricity tariffs are currently the lowest in the country, says Utilities Minister Dr Stephen Rundi.

In this respect, he points out that the state government had reduced the rates a couple of times before, including when Sarawak was under the leadership of the fifth chief minister, Pehin Sri Adenan Satem.

Known fondly by many as ‘Tok Nan’, Adenan passed away on Jan 11, 2017.

“We reduced our electricity tariffs twice before – during Tok Nan’s time, and another which was announced in March by (present) Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg to mitigate the Covid-19 impact.

“Ours is the lowest in the region,” he told The Borneo Post when contacted yesterday.

Our comment

Many residents of various ‘resettlement’ zones displaced by Hydroelectric Dams are only too ready to agree with Dr Rundi.

They were promised FREE electricity when they were forced from their homes by rising waters, many over a decade ago. And, indeed, for many of them their tariffs remain ZERO.

However, the reason owes to the fact that no electricity has been provided.

Given such a poor record on its developments goals, despite being by far Malaysia’s most richly resourced state, Sarawak ministers would do well not to start bragging about their record on delivering to the people.


Don't Be "Pre-Occupied" With Good Old Corruption, Says Bersatu Deputy

Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim should not be preoccupied with eradicating corruption but must also focus on improving the standard of living for Malaysians, said Ahmad Faizal Azumu.

The Bersatu deputy president pointed out this is part of the premier’s duties.

“As a Muslim, I believe that when you ask Allah, Allah will give.

“So he asked Allah for 20 years (to become the prime minister). Now you are the PM, you have the mandate. This is your responsibility,” he added.

Our comment

The question is whether this Deputy (whose boss is in court for stealing millions) is stupid or just thinks his voters are stupid?

By making these remarks he acknowledges the corruption that exists in his own party, but claims it doesn’t matter. Greedy politicians should just be allowed to steal the people’s hard earned taxes and somehow this has nothing to do with them being poor and services being unavailable.

After all, he explains, it is not for the government to help them as they should rely instead on “Allah to provide”.
(Is this a word that Sarawak Report would even be allowed to use in barmy PN controlled Malaysia? Who knows, but everywhere else in the world it’s considered to be fine).

So, if this ‘Peja’ and his boss were to steal money that could have gone to help mitigate the effects of food prices on those people already impoverished by corrupt governance in a richly resourced land, it would not be them to blame but the people’s for not asking Allah to provide?

Or …. is he saying it is Allah’s fault for landing them with such a dreadful bunch of brigands as their leaders?

In fact, even the poorest people realise that Allah is there to guide our morals and these determine conduct and who to vote for and who to punish when they sin (including and especially those kleptocrats who abuse the people’s trust).

It is clear this Desperate Deputy wishes people would believe that punishing sinners should be left to Allah also and that the government and judiciary should not trouble themselves on the matter.  They don’t, but it would certainly let his party off the hook!

'NGO' Or Just Another Front Man For Samling?

Licensed timber operators and environmental groups must be committed towards resolving differences amicably and work together to safeguard the environment as well as the interests of local and indigenous communities, urged an advocacy group for sustainable forest management today.

The statement from Advokasi Pribumi Sarawak Sdn Bhd (APS) came following news reports of the court case between a Sarawak timber company [Samling] and Save Rivers wherein the former is suing the environmental NGP for defamation…

Expressing concern over the involvement of the courts, APS executive director Nigel Raymond said they were made to understand that the timber company had made several attempts to amicably resolve the issue by reaching out to Save Rivers to clarify matters.

“This was rejected by the NGO. We had read in a recent statement that the timber company was left with no choice but to file the defamation suit just an hour before the end of the statutory limitation period applicable in Sarawak” said Nigel, who has been following the case closely.

Nigel also expressed confusion regarding recent comments made by Save Rivers, claiming that the court’s postponement of the case on May 15th, 2023 was an attempt to ‘silence’ the NGO.

“From what we understand, this is the first time the court has postponed the hearing, not the fourth as claimed by Save Rivers”, he added…..

… to date, there are no practical solutions put forth by any environmental NGOs that balances the need for socio-economic growth with the preservation and restoration of our natural resources.

“Calling for and end to all timber operations and attacking companies, policymakers and public agencies that support the timber business may bring about a negative multiplier effect to Sarawak”, he said.

Highlighting the positive contributions of timber companies to local communities, Nigel mentioned their role in job creation, infrastructure developments like roads, culverts and bridges, and the construction of essential amenities like schools and clinics…….


Our comment

This Nigel Raymond seems to have achieved enviable publicity over the past couple of days for this attack on the NGO Save Rivers, presently being sued for libel by the global timber giant, Samling, for championing indigenous communities whose lands are being logged without due process or consultation (let alone compensation).

Likewise, Nigel got a good shout for an earlier attack in March against Save Rivers on behalf of the local YB, Denis Ngau, whom Sarawak Report has likewise questioned over his dubious representation of the interests of his indigenous constituents (many of whom remain without their proper ID cards, the most basic function this YB could have performed, if not so busy supporting logging interests).

However, apart from this recent publicity, Nigel and his NGO seem to have arrived from nowhere. He claims to be a registered company, Advokasi Pribumi Sarawak Sdn Bhd. Yet, when we searched the ROC (Register of Companies) that name does not appear we discovered only an Advokasi Pribumi (Sarawak) Sdn Bhd, based in KL.

Stunningly, this outfit was only incorporated on March 16th of this year, just the day before Nigel made his public utterance as an “advocacy group for sustainable forest management” by condemning Save Rivers on behalf of Denis Ngau.

The outfit has a Facebook page, also launched on March 16th. It has just two friends so far. There are no posts. However, our research has produced an email from this site and we will send our questions there.

There is a website listed online, but if you try to enter it you get a ‘Server Error’ message.

Forbidden - you do not have permission to access

Forbidden – you do not have permission to access

So far there is no evidence to determine what, if any, actual advocacy this ‘NGO’ may have conducted for sustainable forest management in Sarawak.

Meanwhile, we are left to note that the remarks in Nigel Raymond’s statement look more than anything like a ham-fisted concoction of the Samling press department itself, containing a mix of laughable sustainability claims on the part of perhaps the most shamed and notorious timber companies on the planet and downright lies.

So, let’s be clear, according to the lawyers, this is the fourth postponement of the case.

Samling had no need to sue a vulnerable community and their representatives for huge sums of ‘libel’ compensation to stop them protesting at the logging on their land. The community have every right to protest and Samling has now transgressed not only their  their native lands but also their freedom of speech.

If, as Nigel claims, the NGO rejected whatever ‘settlement’ Samling has in mind (and its a big if), then Samling had better propose something a lot less self-serving to shut down this case that is now backfiring disastrously with bad publicity across the world. How about serious financial compensation for a start?

Perhaps this big bunch of bullies are finally starting to realise that defamation suits designed to shut people up – known as SLAPP suits – can be massively counter-productive for a Goliath seeking to squash a David by starting expensive legal proceedings?

Thanks to this action, the world if rapidly finding out more and more about Samling and its bullying behaviour, dragging native folk to court instead of engaging in the proper consultations due under the laws of Sarawak.

This legal bullying was badly misjudged, therefore, and Nigel, given he plainly speaks on behalf of Samling, has every reason to be concerned about the involvement of the courts. But, it was the company’s own fault and he would do better to recognise it rather than attacking an NGO that genuinely represents the community it serves.

Meanwhile, unless this ‘NGO director’ contacts us to say otherwise, we are free to assume his media statement was drawn up by the press department of Samling itself and that the timber giant is contributing to his revenues.


The Future Will Judge Musa's Legacy

Mara Junior Science College (MRSM) Kota Kinabalu is now known as MRSM Tan Sri Musa Aman, in recognition of the services of the former Sabah chief minister, said Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

He said that Musa, as the Sabah chief minister, had contributed a lot to the state. In fact, Musa was one of the important individuals in the efforts to establish MRSM Kota Kinabalu 21 years ago.

In this regard, Zahid, who is also the rural and regional development minister, reminded the current generation to always remember and respect the efforts of previous generations in providing the comfort they presently enjoy.

“Although he (Musa) is no longer the chief minister, as his friend I must recognise him as the former chief minister.

Our comment

The crooks from UMNO’s shameful past can pat themselves on the back as much as they like. They know how they will go down in history and indeed how they are thought of now.

Musa, having robbed Sabah through waves of destructive logging, fled in a blind panic after the landslide election in 2018 which saw the kleptocrats like him driven out of office.

He hid in London and then when finally extracted back to face the music, namely 46 charges relating to corruption and money laundering linked to timber concessions in the state, he took to his bed pleading sickness for several weeks.

The world scorned the craven bully who had once swaggered over the impoverished state. It still does.

His fortunes rose again, after Malaysia’s political crooks managed to buy over enough PH deserters to stage a backdoor coup against the elected government. After all, his brother, Najib’s former foreign minister and a key supporter over 1MDB, was there at the heart of the coup regime to champion his release.

So, did this ‘hero’ of Sabah emerge victorious from the court having been found innocent of all charges? Of course not! The newly appointed AG merely followed political orders and dropped all the charges in one fell swoop without a single word of explanation – not that anyone needed an explanation.

How shameful, therefore, for the junior scientists of Sabah to have the name of such a man stuck over the door as they pursue their, hopefully, honest studies. However, they will surely ignore the insult and moving into the future the name will also be removed.

Musa will be remembered by future generations in Sabah and Malaysia as one of the generation of kleptocrats who used his wealth and influence to avoid just punishment. That is all.