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