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Last updated: 29 September  2016

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Radio Free Malaysia, Radio Free Sarawak and Sarawak Report all Hacked

The websites for Radio Free Malaysia, Radio Free Sarawak and the news portal Sarawak Report, which represent free media in Malaysia, have all been subject to relentless DDOS attacks since the beginning of this week.

Today, Thursday 11th April, the sites were hacked and all three were brought down.  The attacks have coincided with various forms of jamming which have been attempted against the broadcasts of both the independent Radio Stations, which operate from outside of Malaysia.

Radio Free Sarawak is at 1100-1300 UTC on 15230 kHz Short Wave and Radio Free Malaysia is at 1300-1500 UTC on 1359 kHz Medium Wave.  Both stations are still available on Sound Cloud:

Malaysia, which poses as a democracy, has nevertheless one of the most restrictive medias in the world, dominated by the ruling Barisan National coalition.  Widespread access to the internet has broken into that monopoloy over information in recent years, however, evidently causing considerable concern to a government beset by recent scandals and corruption investigations involving senior figures.

Disruption of independent online news portals is regular in Malaysia and entirely expected after the disollution of Parliament finally took place last week, in anticipation of elections due on May 5th.  The human rights organisation Suaram has also been knocked offline as have the news outlets Free Malaysia Today and Malaysian Insider.

The Distributed Denial Of Service (DDOS) attacks have been mounting against the anti-corruption site Sarawak Report for the past few weeks.  The site has focused on exposing timber corruption over the past three years, demonstrating how the destruction of the Borneo Jungle has been driven by a small number of politically connected individuals in the East Malaysian states of Sarawak and Sabah.

Yesterday, Wednesday 10th April, the site was targeted by 64 million hits designed to take down its server. The sister sites for the two radio stations received similar attacks.  Most of the attacks have radiated out of Russia and Eastern Europe and site administrators were able to fend off the onslaught until the site itself was hacked earlier today.

The NGO Access Now, which campaigns to support freedom of expression on the internet, has moved to assist the websites in their purpose of providing independent news and information to Malaysian voters in the run up to May 5th.

“This is a pretty typical pattern for an automated attack”, explains Gustav Bjorksten from Access Now, “anyone opposing a dictatorial power tends to get attacked by DDOS.  With the calling of an election you can pretty much set your clock by it”.

Behind the attacks are criminals who build large ‘botnets’, which they then hire out to people who pay, for example governments trying to suppress inconvenient information.  The cost is phenomenal, with the sort of major attacks sustained by Sarawak Report running into hundreds of thousands of dollars over a period of weeks.

The botnets operate through a web of a very large number of compromised computers, which send out millions of emails to disable the target sites.  The common perpetrators are based in Russia and countries in Eastern Europe, including Lithuania and the Ukraine.  Turkey is also a centre for this kind of activity.

“This is a pretty big attack” Bjorksten said of the assault on Sarawak Report and its sister sites, “they are serious, they want you off line”.

Clare Rewcastle Brown, the Editor of Sarawak Report and the Founder of Radio Free Sarawak and Radio Free Malaysia, which operate out of London in order to avoid Malaysian censorship, said today that the Malaysian Government was only showing itself up by resorting to such tactics.

“This is not a proper expenditure of taxpayers’ money and it only goes to prove how vulnerable this 50 year old regime feels to the truth” she said.  “BN controls every single news paper and broadcast outlet in Malaysia, which are all forced to pour out propaganda favouring their party and to attack opposition leaders without allowing them their right of reply.  And yet BN are nevertheless clearly terrified by even the most modest platforms providing independent news or alternative information.  They are also plainly threatened by the evidence about outrageous corruption by the party’s top politicians, who have been robbing the country in recent years and amassing astonishing fortunes.  Such evidence is suppressed in the mainstream media, yet Malaysia has been stripped of its resources and wealth by the political classes, who are exporting huge sums into tax havens abroad.  Particularly in the rainforest states of Sabah and Sarawak the mass of ordinary people have been left poorer than ever.

“The BN establishment clearly feel unable to defend themselves against the mass of available evidence of this corruption, so they are resorting to attempting to silence the messengers.  It won’t work and it just reveals them for what they are, which is politicians who dare not subject themselves to free and open debate”.

“It is really quite shameful that a government such as Malaysia should consider it appropriate to resort to hiring criminals with taxpayers’ money. They talk about the benefits of winning the “cyber-war” as if there was some honour in what they are doing.  This is a dishonerable tactic and it shows just what a sham this supposedly democratic election is, where the critics of bribes, jerryamandering and vote-rigging are being silenced by such means”.


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Kuching Anak Moyan (left), the headman who admits he took a RM10,000 bribe to make his community vote BN from Member of State Parliament Joseph Mauh

BN’s Joseph Mauh has been caught red-handed on a double election cheat.  He not only promised a poor Headman RM 10,000 to gain his vote, but then the cheque bounced!

In this way Mauh cheated his constituents twice.  Firstly he cheated them of their right to a free vote by bribing the Headman, which is an exceedingly serious crime.  Secondly, he didn’t even carry out his promised payment to a poor community.

You could say that a person who takes a bribe in exchange for their most precious freedom, the freedom to choose their rulers and law-makers, deserves what they get.  But, of course such communities agree to these bribes because the treacherous BN government has kept them so poor and desperate.

The police must act to arrest election criminals

Sarawak Report assumes that, now this incontrovertible evidence has been placed before them, the police will move immediately to detain and question Joseph Muah.  Likewise, the Election Commission should suspend the result of the election.

If the evidence is proved (and it should be done quickly) then there should be a re-election.  In the light of this abuse, other similar claims across the length and breadth of Sarawak should also be investigated.  We are not talking about ‘opposition troublemakers’ we are talking about a respected and appointed Headman, who voted for BN!

Joseph Muah, if found guilty,faces the most serious criminal charge of election fraud.  This is the testimony of the Headman against him:

“My name is Kuching ak Moyan and i am one of the headmen in Tamin constituency. In the just concluded State election, i was given three cheques, one for RM2,000, another for RM3,000 and the third for RM5,000 by the Barisan Nasional candidate, Joseph Mauh.  I have cashed out the first two cheques, both for a total RM5,000 but the last one, for RM5,000, was bounced. So i sent it back to him and he promised that he will bank in the amount instead into my account. Up till today, i have not received the RM5,000. The three cheques were given to me on the 13th of April so that we will give our support to the Barisan Nasional. In the year 2006 State election, each voter here was given only RM20 but in this election, the amount was increased to RM50 per voter. There are 15 voters in this longhouse and all of them were given RM50 each. I think all of us have voted for Barisan Nasional. Ofcourse I know that the money the Barisan Nasional give to us would amount to nothing if the government grabbed our land. But what to do, we still have to vote for the government as the government has given us the money. Yes, i know we can just accept the Barisan Nasional money and vote for the opposition but since everybody else voted for Barisan Nasional this time, i decided to follow suit.”

Time to stop Sham Elections in Sarawak

This is just the beginning of the evidence about this election.  No wonder BN in KL was so worried about the election and so relieved at the outcome.  But likewise, no wonder Taib rushed in the middle of the night in the middle of the weekend to the Governor to get sworn back in before anyone could shout “Stop Thief!”

But if he hopes this is the end of the matter then the Chief Minister is older and stupider than even we realised.  The cheated voters of Sarawak are not going to take this sitting down.  Because the victory of this last election was that, despite the bullying, bribes and cheating, the opposition still managed to gather 45% of the vote!

Imagine what percentage would have gone to the opposition without the rigging and cheating and bribes?  The swings across the country were HUGE and they were away from BN in town and rural areas alike.

Imagine what the percentages would have been if all those half million native voters who Taib refuses to give voter registration to had been able to vote too?  This is why BN is worried.  They are an illegitimate government who stole the election and they deserve to be investigated and prosecuted and then punished with the full force of the law.

Sarawak Report is currently in Geneva, where this NGO is joining others who have been invited to speak at the UN about the problems over human rights and democracy in Sarawak.  We will present the case of this Headman and also the many others who have been cheated in this election.

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Thief Minister Stole Election !

A tiny cabal, like thieves in the night, hijacked the machinery of the state and denied the will of the people in Sarawak at the weekend.

Like the perpetrators of a palace coup, a handful of family members, bomoh’s and loyalists mounted an outrageous and blatant rigging of the count.  Then, immediately, in an unprecedented act at 10.30pm at night, before even the last votes were counted, they bundled the old Chief Minister into the governor’s office to be sworn back in before the matter could be contested.

But contested it will be.  If these plotters and cheats think they can claim legitimacy for Taib, they cannot.   All Sarawak knows he is a fraud and that his desperate supporters are seeking to protect the billions they have stolen from the State by keeping him in office.

Sarawak has changed whether they like it or not

The unprecedented and enthusiastic crowds who turned out and rallied for change in all the major towns across Sarawak last week tell us all we need to know about the real election result.

The biggest crowd in all Malaysia’s election history gathered in the small capital of Kuching and made the feelings of the people perfectly plain, as Taib’s armed and aggressive riot police attempted and failed to provoke and harass them.

Police try to disrupt Kuching rally for PR - a record 40,000 peacefully campaigned for the opposition

By contrast the BN rallies failed hopelessly.  Sarawak has changed and all Sarawakians know it.  Taib also knows it as he sits in his headquarters at Demak Jaya aware that all around him the people of the capital, his home town of Bintulu, Sibu, Miri and across the country have mobilised against him and want him out.

So strong and so obvious was the unity and determination of those population centres that Taib did not dare cheat too heavily and obviously in the urban areas (apart from some outrageous exceptions, like Senadin, see below) and the opposition swept to victory, more than doubling their seats and wiping out BN as a force in the cities.

But, Taib cheated blatantly and obviously everywhere else, determined to snatch the election by abusing his power over the tiny, rotten rural boroughs.  The Prime Minister of Malaysia, Najib Razak, colluded in this and he too deserves international disdain and condemnation for allowing one of the most corrupt examples of a sham election to ever take place.

He will get that condemnation.  Sarawak Report is invited, together with other observers of Malaysia’s shameful actions in Sarawak, to report to the UN’s Human Rights commission imminently in Geneva and we will tell exactly what happened.

The facts will be made known

Because Taib is a known and serial election-cheater his tactics were anticipated and they have been widely noted and recorded.  Reports are being carefully compiled and Sarawak Report will be covering the information as it is gathered over the coming days.  Much of this election is going to be contested and a re-election will be demanded.

Today PKR leader YB Baru Bian, who was one of just three PKR members who managed to get a seat, despite massive attempts to destabilize him, confirmed that there had been systematic and widespread cheating.  Even so, the opposition won 41% of the acknowledged vote – getting just 21% of the seats thanks to the deliberately skewed and corrupt system developed by BN in Sarawak!

So what forms of rigging were used?

Taib used sister-in-law Gertie to bring the money!

Gertie Chong - Taibs brother Arips 2nd wife

Just consider how Taib went about saving his own skin in Balingian, a constituency where for the past five years he has pillaged the timber and grabbed land from the poor.

We have received inside information that his own sister-in-law, Gertie Chong (widow of Arip) was the one who was charged with bringing the bags of money over from Sibu to bribe and bully the impoverished voters.  This is how small and desperate the circle of Taib’s supporters has become.

She handed it out to the PBB workers who then went round the houses distributing a full RM1,000 per door to people, so impoverished by their Chief Minister and State Representative, that they lack even enough barrels to capture sufficient rainwater to drink.

Taib’s ‘development’ has caused the pollution of their rivers and streams – they would dearly love him gone.

But, Gertie brought them RM1,000 per door!  Last election it was only RM50 !  More than anything, the wild inflation of Taib’s bribes tells you the level of his deep unpopularity.

The Shin Yang connection

And where did this money come from?  It came from Shin Yang.  The crony timber and plantation company which has relied on Taib for the fat concessions that have turned its owner Ling Chiong Ho from being a barge handler in Sibu, working for Taib’s brother Onn Mahmud’s Achipelago shipping monopoly just a few years ago, into a multi-millionaire.

So, of course Shin Yang had to cough up.  As far as Taib was concerned he was calling in favours – the sort of favours that gangsters call in.  Just look at the evidence on Shin Yang’s palm concessions alone, all handed to them via private deals with Taib Mahmud’s Resources and Planning Ministry.

In just one case alone, Shin Yang is the major shareholder of Sarawak Oil Palms Bhd, which used to be a government venture.  Taib, in a typical move, privatised it into a public company in 1990 and Shin Yang was allowed to buy over 37% of the company.

Since then Sarawak Oil Palms says it has expanded its land-bank to 65,000 hectares, with 35,000 planted with oil palm in Sarawak.  All of course thanks to concessions given by Taib.

Gerald Rentap Jabu, son of Deputy CM Alfred Jabu (who also bought his way into scraping back his seat) is also on the Board of Sarawak Oil Palms.  Until recently, Taib’s brother and proxy, Onn Mahmud, held shares in the company through his own nominee, Shea Kin Kwok, identified as a key player in the Japanese timber kick-back scandal.

Onns proxy shareholding in the former state asset.

However, the concessions that have come Ling Chiong Ho’s way are far more extensive even than this. The current land registry document published by Sarawak Report in March shows no fewer than 75 lots handed to numerous of companies controlled by Ling Chiong Ho.

Danum Jaya Sdn Bhd,  Linau Mewah Sdn Bhd, Mazama Plantations Sdn Bhd, Shin Yang Oil Palm Sdn Bhd, Sarawak Oil Palm Bhd, Dataran Danum Sdn Bhd, Danum Sinar Sdn Bhd, Dataran Seping Sdn Bhd, Linau Sinar Sdn Bhd, Selangau Plantation Sdn Bhd, have been handed huge areas at rock bottom prices.

Just one enormous chunk of this land, some 90,000 hectares, has been acquired in Belaga, the area that Taib had cleared for the Bakun dam project.  Shin Yang has already been slammed by NGOs for its handling of the timber concessions given to them by Taib in the Belaga area and disregard for the native communities.

We can also see from the land registry that further huge tracts of plantation land have been handed to Shin Yang in the other planned Dam areas of Baram (13,000 hectares) and Murum (16,500 hectares). [see list of companies and concessions at the bottom of the article].

And Taib’s own constituents of Balingian have not been let off the hook either.

Shin Yan has taken land in Taibs own constituency.

Ling Chiong Ho has also walked off with fat plantation concessions in Mukah and numerous other concessions in the Bintulu area.

Land taken in Bintulu by Shin Yan - well over a hundred thousand hectares in total

So, the money with which Taib was buying his voters was money taken from the removal and exploitation of their lands in the first place!  RM1,000 was of course a lot to Taib’s impoverished voters. But it would have been nothing to them if Taib had fairly developed their land and ensured they got some of the profit!

Go getter Gertie

Bag Carrier - Gertie Chong was the one who brought the money from Shin Yang in Sibu to buy votes in Balingian.

It is of little surprise that Gertie Chong was the family member chosen by Taib to carry out his dirty work in Balingian.  She is the 2nd and favourite wife of his favourite brother Arip and her name pops up as a major shareholder in a good number of Taib crony companies.  She is a major shareholder of Jaya Tiasa, the company based on plantations handed to her husband by Taib and then sold on for a fat profit to the tycoon Tiong Hiew King of Rimbunan Hijau Group.

Gertie is also a fellow director and shareholder with Taib Mahmud himself in the company Mesti Bersatu, a shareholder in the Royal Mulu resort and Miri Properties, which owns the Marriott in Miri among other ventures.  She also is a shareholder in Lanco Plantations, along with Taib himself.

Indeed, Gertie has been associated with so many of the Mahmud family business ventures that have taken advantage of their political stranglehold on the state, that it is no surprise that she was brought in to help with the emergency operation of keeping them in power at whatever cost – in fact RM1,000 per constituent is a very small cost indeed by comparison to what they have made and doubtless intend to make in the future.

Despite this Taib’s majority in Balingian was slashed from some 6,000 to around 2,000 on the day, so sickened have his people been by his greed and landgrabbing.

Gangster CM used gangster tactics to grab the election 

Sarawak Report will be accumulating the details of this election theft as reliable reports and evidence is collated from the different districts over the next few days.  However, our report to the UN will include the following points:

–         The Mass Disenfranchisement of much of the population of the interior, which enables Taib to operate a ‘rotten borough system’, where seats are decided by just a tiny number of people whom he can pressure and influence.  470,000 natives of the interior do not have voting rights out of Sarawak’s 2.5 million total population.  Taib has deliberately pretended that he finds it ‘difficult’ to register remote communities who resent his destruction of the jungle.  However, while he says he cannot reach them, he has sure managed to reach their trees!

–      BN has used this ‘rotten borough’ system to achieve 77% of the seats with just 55% of the votes,  creating what they call their ‘fixed deposit’ of seats in Sarawak.  PR gained 41% of the votes at this election (despite all the cheating) only to receive 21% of the seats.  Equally, seats in the towns consist of up to 30,000 voters, whereas those doted around the interior amounted to 6,000 voters and these are easier for BN to bully, bribe and control.

–        The illegal touting of projects and votes by BN politicians, including the Prime Minister, in the run up to the election. These are used as a direct bribe and form of blackmail as it is made clear to voters that they will not get the projects and worse may be discriminated against in the provision of basic amenities if they do not vote BN.

–         The abuse of postal votes.  Only allowing government workers to use them and pressurising these employees to vote BN.  Also the outrageous targeting of postal votes at single constituencies they want to influence, rather than the constituencies the voter actually comes from.  The practice of doubling up by sending in postal votes eg by the army and then bringing in plane loads of the same soldiers to vote in person as well!  The introduction of suspicious last minute ‘postal votes’ in order to try and boost BN’s tallies far later than legally allowed.

–         Use of gangsters to intimidate and turn away voters from the polling stations.

–         Abuses by the electoral commission, which include switching voters’ polling stations away from their home areas to distant places they cannot get to, suddenly on the day of the vote.  The hiding of ballot boxes for periods of time, so that agents cannot tell if they have been tampered with and illegally withholding (on the direct orders of the Election Commission) the Form 14 information that confirms the tally of each box, so that a proper monitoring can take place of the count.  Switching off the lights and ‘counting’ in the dark.

–         The cutting off of mobile phone networks on the day to inhibit the opposition from keeping up with what is happening.

–         The naked bribery by BN of poor voters the day before the vote.  Offering money in return for their ID numbers and then paying the remainder only when they have proved that they have voted for BN!  The scale of these bribes went sky high at this election, indicating just how unpopular BN is and how much they had to pay to get people to give in and vote for them.

Senadin – one case history 

There will be more examples with back-up information of BN’s gangster tactics, but Sarawak Report will be presenting the case of Senadin at the UN this week.

 – PKR was leading the vote by 1000+ during the last ballot counting.

– Suddenly a blackout conveniently occurred happened during the last ballot counting in the Miri City Stadium.

– Blackout lasted 1 hour+ and the Election Commission continued counting with a sudden appearance of bought votes and ‘postal’ votes at an illegally late hour.

– SUPP were declared ‘winners’ with slim majority 58 votes after postal votes

– There were announced to be 158 ‘spoiled’ votes favouring PKR

– The SPR refused a recount, despite the fact that there was a clear case for a recount.

In this way the 20,000 crowd which had gathered in Miri to support PKR on the night that less than 100 were prepared to attend the rival rally by BN’s George Chan, just a few days before, were denied the obvious representative of their choice.  Instead one of Taib’s key supporters was forced upon them to help the Chief Minister in his attempt to continue his gangster government.

No legitimacy

 PR are contesting this election on a number of fronts.  The BN Federal Government will use all means at their disposal however to continue to prop up Taib who keeps them in power.

This is despite the fact that he daily embarrasses and shames Malaysia through his corruption and his greedy exploitation of his impoverished people.  Najib would dearly love to be rid of the old parasite, but he is yet to find a way.  Certainly, the Prime Minister’s election promise that if Taib ‘won’ for BN he would shortly step down will be one of many, many, many promises made by BN at this election that will not be fulfilled.

Taib has no legitimacy.  He knows it, Najib knows it and the people of Sarawak know it.  The rest of the world will know it too.

[Below are the concessions given to Shin Yang’s Ling Chiong Ho in recent years.  No wonder Taib was expecting pay back time.  Shin Yang paid for his election bribes].

Ling Chiong Hos plantation concessions - but it was payback time at the election!

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A Heck Of A Year…

As the small team at Sarawak Report and Radio Free Sarawak look back at our work over the past year, we feel that one way we can assess our impact is through the reaction we have provoked.

Massive and unprecedented Cyber-attacks!  Dozens of rival websites! Legal threats! US PR companies hired to write articles against us and then today a last desperate jamming attempt to knock our radio show off the air.  What better confirmation could we have asked for that our work has had an effect?

Meanwhile, like all of you, we have been watching the swelling crowds of voters gathering on the streets of towns throughout Sarawak calling for change and renewal and we can see why the perpetrators of these attacks are so worried. If we have played even the smallest part in helping the people of Sarawak to understand their situation and look for a solution, then we are deeply proud.

When we started investigating the situation in Sarawak, with the new blog Sarawak Report early last year, matters seemed very desperate indeed.  The world’s most beautiful rainforest country was on the brink of total and utter destruction.  It still is.

But there was a hope, that the coming election might just help rid the poor people of Sarawak of the appalling parasite that is Taib Mahmud and end his pernicious policies of self-enrichment.  And there was a team of decent, law-abiding, right-minded and clever people ready to take his place – the capable and united PR opposition coalition.

We were convinced that what people needed was information and courage.  Taib had covered up his greedy corruption by controlling all the media and forcing them to pour out his dusty old claptrap about ‘progress and development’.  No journalist could mention that only Taib and his small body of cronies were really benefiting. No one was allowed to point out that in fact Sarawakians, despite the wealth of their country, were being pitifully left behind in the modern world.

Neither was anyone investigating the sheer thuggery and brutality that was keeping the village folk from protesting against the rape of their lands and their forests.  The gangs from Sibu who would beat up anyone who stood in the loggers’ way.  After decades of such captivity people’s minds had closed, they could see no hope and no way forward.

So, we decided that we would do our best to use the internet to bring information to the people.  All the scandals and corruption that Taib had been covering up. Already brave bloggers like Hornbill Unleashed, Broken Shield, Dayak Baru, Dayak Nation were speaking out and getting an enthusiastic response. We wanted to show that it was possible and right to expose Taib and criticise Taib and show what the rest of the world thinks about people like Taib.

Will it be able to help stop BN buying the election yet again?  Prime Minister Najib Razak has flown in to take charge of the campaign and throw promises and money about like confetti.  This is illegal behaviour from the most senior politician in Malaysia.  He betrays himself, his country and all the values of honesty and religion in such immoral acts and he will have to live with that shame whether he wins or loses.  We will know tomorrow.

People in Sarawak know better than to believe the promises of a proven gang of thieves, who have robbed them year after year.  They know how little worth there is in an offer to return land from a gang who stole it in the first place.  But BN don’t just bribe and bully, they rig elections.  We will know tomorrow whether the thieves from Malaysia have once again stolen this election.

Unravelling the corruption of Taib Mahmud

So, while we wait, here is a reminder of what we have been unravelling for the people of Sarawak over the past year.  The reason why they wanted to shut us up.

We began by examining the information about Taib’s foreign property wealth, which was information that impoverished local researchers had found expensive and hard to find out about.  Even a foreign company search for a few dollars was hard for most Sarawakians to find, so this is where we began.

Foreign property wealth

SAKTO – We do not believe we have exposed a fraction of Taib’s real foreign property investments.  We could have reported on numerous leads and suspicions, but we have disciplined ourselves to only reporting on what we can truly verify, through documented evidence.  First we broke the story about the massive, multi-million dollar properties belonging to SAKTO, started under the names of Taib’s daughter Jamilah, brother Onn and son Mahmud Taib and now run by Jamilah and her husband Sean Murray.  The pictures of these buildings astonished Sarawakians.

Ridgeford – We had been told about Ridgeford Properties through a completely separate source.  Someone who was worried because they believed they were having dealings with a company owned by a family that was causing terrible deforestation in Borneo!  When we finally got the name of this company, we searched on the web and saw that it called itself the ‘sister company’ of SAKTO  and was run by the family of Jamilah’s husband Sean Murray!

SAKTI – Separately again, we had heard through another source that there was a branch of SAKTO in the US.  Someone had been approaching newspapers and NGOs complaining about the company.  Every time we searched for Sakto we found nothing in the United States, but then finally an American pointed out that we had got the spelling wrong!  SAKTI is also owned by the Taib family and also now run by Jamilah’s husband Sean (known as Hisham in Sarawak).  Through Ross Boyert, a former company employee who was found dead a few weeks after we interviewed him last year, we gained documents which proved that Taib was the real owner of Sakti.

Sitehost – Next we moved to Australia, where the Taibs have wide-ranging businesses and connections with a number of property ventures.  Many have testified that Taib does most of his business through nominees, but we only featured Mahmud possessions for which we have concrete evidence.  These included the Adelaide Hilton complex, the most expensive flat sold in Sydney and one of the fanciest houses in the capital.  Also hotels and restaurants.

By this time people were contacting us from Sarawak, asking us to cover internal corruption as well.  We started to develop contacts right within the Mahmud and BN hierarchy and we started to learn just how disgusted and disaffected most of even the most important people in Sarawak were by the greed and dishonesty of Taib’s regime.

We started to cover the Landgrabs, like Raziah’s attempt to take NCR forest land at Sebangan for just RM250 per family, while she stood to make millions.

We then covered the skimming of government contracts by the Mahmuds – the Kuching sewerage system that Raziah’s Kumpulan Construction made 78 ringgit profit from sub-contracting!

We investigated how in companies like Sanyan, one of Sarawak’s biggest logging companies, it could be seen how the Mahmuds only gave permits to cronies if they agreed to give at least half the profits to them.

After that the information just kept pouring in.  The landgrabs and the timber contracts.  We started to build up a shocking dossier on Taib Mahmud’s money politics in Sarawak.  The corruption surrounding Kuching’s new Heart Hospital was just one example of this!

The Landgrabs

Then we got our hands on some vital information.  The Land and Survey documents that showed just who had been getting land from Taib’s government over the past few years for plantations.  Much of it Native Customary Rights Land.  Our painstaking research was helped by some wonderful insiders who helped us work out what was happening.

Matching the records with company searches and with announcements by public companies and reports, we started to unravel how the vast majority of the lands taken by the government have been given to Taib’s family, cronies and political associates.

We also showed the huge profits that were being made by these people as they sold the territories on to commercial companies.  The full scale of the corruption started to unravel.  Taib’s own involvement and ownership of many of the landgrab companies, also.  We featured the suffering of the people of Sarawak, deprived of their lands and receiving nothing in return.

The Public Contracts

Likewise, we started to point to some of the examples of favouritism in State and Federal contracts – all of which seem to go to companies owned by the Mahmuds.  Taib’s involvement in a company should be enough to PRECLUDE it from receiving public contracts, but to the contrary in the corrupted Sarawak it had become a virtual necessity!

We showed the meanness and greediness of the Taibs as they set about swallowing everything they could in Sarawak and we pointed out that this is not how it should be and not how it need be!

Meanwhile, something was starting to happen.  Our hits on Sarawak Report grew and grew and by this time we had also started Radio Free Sarawak to make sure that our news got to the people of the interior as well – the people with no internet or even newspapers could hear our message now and they started to buy SW radios to make sure they could!

The more they attacked us the better we did!

As the going got tough our supporters got more loyal.  After the cyber-attacks at the weekends the hits on our refugee sites went up through the 100,000 a day mark and the story became the fact there were no more short-wave radios left to buy in Sarawak!

So, we have done our best to bring out the information in order that the people going to vote tomorrow understand the issues and the choices they have.  We hope they chose an honest leadership under PR’s Baru Bian and Wong Ho Leng, two lawyers who care about the justice for the people.

It remains to thank the tiny team of brave volunteers who came over to London and risked everything to help run Radio Free Sarawak.  They did it for you and the future of Sarawak.

We will get back to you after the election!

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Taib’s Ten Income Streams

How did he get the money?

Recently we spoke to one of Taib’s key business partners in strict confidence. He explained to us what he described as the 10 main income streams that have turned the Chief Minister into a multi-billionaire over the past 30 years. In the process he gave us a fascinating insight into the business practices of Abdul Taib Mahmud.

They all involve the abuse of power, corruption and the exploitation of the people and environment of Sarawak. Our interviewee, who has done years of business with the Mahmud family, told us he believes that Taib is probably the richest man in South East Asia, having cashed in the Sarawak Rainforest.

Income Stream 1

He got nothing of course!

Timber Licences– The Ministry of Forests issues timber licences for 5, 10, 15 years. It is the Chief Minister who decides the price and he demands money to issue them.

Cronies who deal with the Chief Minister are instructed to pay their bribes and kickbacks into foreign bank accounts outside of Sarawak, often in Hong Kong or Singapore in the early days.

The informant told us that, because the timber companies declare so little profit, very little tax is paid and hardly any of the money made from felling the trees came back into Sarawak.

Income Stream 2

Taib has admitted he started daughter Jamilah up in business. CAN$4.5 million was invested in the first year into Sakto alone.

Tonnage- On top of this, our informant told us, he charges the timber company a kickback of RM100 per ton of wood they log. This alone is worth RM2 billion a year, since for the last 30 years around 20 million tons have been felled each year.

Income Stream 3

Extending Timber Licences – Companies wanting to be listed on the Stock Exchange have a requirement that the expiry date for their assigned areas has to be at least 15 years, meaning they have to extend their licences.

They go to the CM who says “Ok can you see my brother Onn” [in the earlier period Onn managed Taib’s businesses in Sarawak and abroad].

Sakto in Canada is worth hundreds of millions of dollars

Because the requirement by the KL Stock Exchange was 30% Bumi Shareholders the timber tycoon would invite a Taib family member of Taib’s choice to take these 30% of the shares for free!

But these family members are usually nominees – they sign a blank share transfer form and a blank director resignation form, which Taib takes and keeps in his safe or in the foreign bank’s safe deposit box. In this way Taib can make them resign whenever he likes and keeps ultimate ownership of the shares!

Income Stream 4

Lucrative monopoly over shipping licences meant Taibs could squeeze the Japanese shipping firms.

Achipelago Shipping- Using their control over the monopoly over timber export licences, handled by Onn Mahmud’s company Achipeligo, the Mahmuds charged US$ 4.00 per cubic metre in kickbacks from the Japanese shipping companies.

Since 16 million cubic meters were exported most years, this was worth US$64 million a year (RM200,000,000).

Another insider has explained to us the system. The logs would be weighed going onto the ships and every ship’s tally would be recorded and sent to Onn Mahmud’s office manager in Hong Kong, who was Mr Shea Kin Kwok.

The Japanese shipping companies would pay the money into one of around six companies in Hong Kong. In 2007 the Japanese tax authorities fined a number of companies for undeclared tax on some of these payments to the Taibs.

Income Stream 5

Grandiose - one of Saktos sister companies, Ridgeford, has a string of properties in London

Achipelago Shipping (2)- Agency fees from the shipping company. Achipelago had the monopoly of all documentation for shipping. One shipment would have to pay US$2,000 in agency fees plus other charges.

It would amount to US$10,000 (RM30,000) per ship per visit. All this of course just added to the cost to the buyers in Japan.

Onn Mahmud was only a nominee in this enterprise, we are told. Taib would give him 10%. The insiders say that Achipeligo Shipping was the major ‘cash-cow’ for the Taibs. Onn had not wanted to take on the job of managing it at first, as he did not understand the potential, but in the end and it made the family billions in black money.

Income Stream 6

Development? What development?

Privatisation of Government Companies- Taib corporatizes and then privatises state assets, selling them off to public listed companies, which are in fact majority-owned by the Taib family and nominees. Sarawak’s largest company CMS was formed in this way, it is mainly owned by Taib’s family and the Chief Managers are his son Abu Bekir and son-in-law Alwee Alsree.

According to our insider, the method is to pretend the state asset is losing money and decide to sell it. Before privatisation money is poured into up-grading the facilities and then it is corporatized. Then finally, it is ‘privatised’. He will make an offer from eg CMS to buy it and the negotiations all go on behind closed doors, where he represents the State of Sarawak as Finance Minister.

Taib makes a big play at the closing stages of the negotiations, when there is a meeting to make the final decision. He excuses himself on the grounds that he has an interest and leaves the meeting to be chaired by Jabu or George Chan, who waves it through.

Income Stream 7

logging or plain theft?

Illegal Logging in Indonesia- Hardwood Timber Sdn Bhd licences wood which has been illegally logged and brought over the border, according to the business associate.

“They levy handling fees in the border area. They charge RM17 per ton. There are many, many little companies doing this. A lot of jobless gangsters”.

It legitimises the theft from the Indonesians. Indonesia has complained in the past, but it is still going on.

Income Stream 8

Federal payments for infrastructure or just graft?

Federal Government Contracts- Nearly all the Federal Government projects in Sarawak are done by the Taib family companies. Roads, schools, hospitals – nearly all the projects that the Prime Minister is going around promising now as he tries to buy the election, will end up profiting the Taib family more than anyone else!

This is because the CM has the sole authority to endorse an application to pre-qualify to tender. In order to get a permit to tender for a project you need a supporting letter from the CM and generally only his family companies get them!

Adelaide Hilton is another Taib foreign property

Hardly anyone else gets a chance, says our business insider. Some Iban companies do get projects, because the Federal Government does not want to be seen to be giving them all to Taib, but he gets 70-80% of them!

Once the Taib company has received the Federal Contract it then sub-contracts the work for a nice profit and lets someone else do the work with a much smaller budget. This means there is a likelihood that it will be sub-standard and everyone else is squeezed.

Income Stream 9
The Alienation of State Land to Oil Palm Plantations – Our business leader informant tells us that Taib charges at least RM 1,000-1,500 per acre in kickbacks.

This amounts to at least RM20,000,000 for a 10,000 hectare plantation His chosen negotiator will explain this to the purchaser. The licensee has to pay the money outside of Sarawak into an off-shore account.

YB Ali Mahmud is just one of the family members to have done well out of land grabs.

Leaked records from the Land and Survey Department to Sarawak Report shows that around 1.4 million hectares has been handed out by land and survey for plantations. So if our informant is right this amounts to a very nice sum of money for Taib 1,500 X 1,400,000 is RM 2,100,000,000 or RM2.1 billion.

How it works is the person who wants land writes to the Land and Survey Department run by Taib. You pay the official premium to the Government, which is for example RM300-350 per acre, but on top of that it is the secret RM1,500 that you have to pay to Taib.

Now the prices are rocketing, Taib likes to complain to his business cronies that he regrets having sold so much off so quickly in the early years!

Income Stream 10

Borneo Convention Centre and just about any other State Contract you care to mention goes to Taib companies.

State Contracts- Taib has full control over these and at least 70% goes to his own family companies, bringing in hundreds of millions annually.

Recent eye-catching state projects that went to the Taibs have been the new DUN Parliament Building and the Borneo Convention Centre

Our contact says this is by no means a complete list of the money-making opportunities the Chief Minister has enjoyed in Sarawak, but it goes some way to explain the enormous wealth visibly enjoyed by himself and by his family.  One other obvious way in which the Mahmuds have made even more money is their urban landgrabs.  The areas taken by Raziah in Miri, Batu Lintang and Bintulu Airport, taken by Naim Cenderas are just some which have been covered by Sarawak Report.

Plenty of questions to answer - staged interviews are not enough.

Once this wealth has been taken abroad and invested in property and other ventures there has been a whole new opportunity to multiply the wealth several times over.

Taib is known to have done very well investing in rocketing property markets in the US, Canada, UK and Australia. However, he is also believed to have lost money in poor investments such as the Icelandic banks!

River view. Taibs Sarawak home.

Not far down the road from Taibs house in Kuching.

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ABC Australia

Sarawak Report has been suffering an ‘unprecedented’ level of coordinated and sophisticated cyber-attacks, according the the US-based Media Temple, one of the largest hosting companies in the world.
Media Temple was until last night the host for our site, but have kindly requested that we withdraw our custom in order that they can continue their operations. We are now hosting Sarawak Report through a variety of severs, including WordPress and we hope you can access the site by keeping in touch with Sarawak Report On The Run, for the remaining hours of the election campaign.

We miss all your comments, but some of the interactive aspects of the site have been curtailed at times. Keep trying! Meawhile our election monitoring Cheat Beat site is up and functioning, so keep your reports coming in.

The latest attack on Sarawak Report was yet another so called ‘distributed denial of service attack’, last night. It happened around 8pm UK time, after a build up over a number of hours. This was far larger than the previous attacks over the weekend and separate to a hacking attack the day before.

The hosting provider, Media Temple, one of the world’s largest, said this was ‘something that went above what we know’. Eventually one of their senior engineers came in contact with us to confirm that a distributed denial of service attack was taking place against our website and that it was on such an ‘unprecedented scale’ that it was affecting their whole server infrastructure. Therefore we were kindly asked not to host our website with them again, because they ‘cannot handle such levels of attack’ and it was affecting their other sites.

We are now up in a number of capacities, including WordPress. Although, we note that WordPress, which is considered the world’s rock solid hosting site, reported that for the first time yesterday they were nearly brought down by a hacking attack!

Despite these attacks and the media blackouts on non-BN parties in the Sarawak election, news is still getting out about the phenomenal rallies of support for PR that have been growing over the past week all over Sarawak and not just in the cities. News is also getting out about the systematic bribery and bullying of the electorate by the Prime Minister Najib himself, who has flown in to take charge of the election from unpopular Taib Mahmud.

Today ABC Australia also featured the team behind Sarawak Report and Radio Free Sarawak on their prime-time, national flagship show “7.30 report”. The whole world is starting to learn about the struggles in Sarawak and we join the whole world in wishing the people of Sarawak the freedom to chose the leaders they want, without being pressured by illegal bribes, bullying or ballot-box fixing.

Good luck with the election and vote for what you believe in, not what someone paid or threatened you to do. Remember, your freedom is beyond price.

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