The close involvement of the Governor of Sarawak in this business venture of his son’s will come as little surprise to those who are aware of the blatant use the veteran kleptocrat has made of his family members to act as fronts for his global business activities.
In March 2016, the national Times of Oman newspaper reported that South Sea Energy, which it described as holding ‘international expertise in the oil and gas industry’ was finalising a major deal with the local Bank Nizwa to raise a $150 million financing arrangement (Sharia compliant, of course) to enable investment in Oman’s massive new oil exploration Block 17. The facility was granted to the Sarawak company in its capacity as a key partner in PetroTel Oman (PetroTel), the operator of the 2,378 square kilometre prospective oil field.
The newspaper identified the two individuals present at the signing of the arrangement with the bank on behalf of South Sea Energy. They were named as Datuk Seri Mahmud Abu Bekir Taib, executive vice president of South Sea Energy and his father the Sarawak Governor, Tun Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib bin Mahmud, according to a media statement made by the Bank Nizwa.
The people of Sarawak must ask what exactly the financial interests of the Taib family are in this company, which it has been announced is now closely involved in the Sarawak State company Petros’s first venture, that just happens to be also linked to Oman’s Block 17?
Furthermore, on what guarantee or collateral did the Bank Nizwa agree to raise the vast sum of USD$150 million for South Sea Energy Sdn Bhd, given that the company, which was incorporated in 2008 and registers only one office (in Petronas Towers) and is categorised as “Dormant” in the Register of Companies?
In March 2018, Najib needed the support of the Sarawak political mafia, which has been under the firm grip of Taib Mahmud for 40 years, first in his capacity as chief minister and now as governor of the state. Taib controlled key parliament seats and the establishment of Petros was Taib’s asking price for continuing to support BN.
Taking Back Control Of Sarawak’s Oil
Sarawak must know by now that the Malaysia Petroleum Development Act of 1974 had been specifically negotiated by Taib himself (when he was the Federal national resources minister) together with his uncle (at the time Sarawak’s chief minister) as part of a deal with BN allies in the federal government (led by Najib’s father, the then PM Tun Razak) who agreed to let the Taib/Ya’acub family take all the revenues from Sarawak’s timber and land resources, inreturn for the surrender of Sarawak’s oil to the Federal government.
The fact that this cutting and sharing of the riches of Borneo was highly illegal did not stop both sides from signing the deal. Using the PDA 1974 as a cover, Taib for decades has stood by the agreement that 95% of Sarawak’s oil revenues should go to the federal government, as he developed his own economic monopoly and crony-economics in every other money making activity in the state.
In 2012, Najib Razak in cahoots with Taib, took the raid on Sarawak’s state oil a step further instituting the Territorial Sea Act 2012. The move incited more anger in Sarawak as opposition MPs picked up on the further injustice and it helped propel a popular agenda to regain the state’s oil rights to the political centre stage, even to provoke the distinct rumbling of a pro-independence mood.
The fact that Taib personally pushed for Sarawak’s oil resources to be given to the Federal Government appears not to have concerned this political leader one bit, because Taib personally was making billions out of the deal that gave him carte blanche to help himself to the rest of the available wealth of the state.
Through a disgraceful series of secretive contracts, he cut down the Borneo rainforests and parcelled out the land for lucrative oil palm concessions. He orchestrated for the vast majority of government contracts to go to his network of ‘independent’ companies now firmly controlled by his children, brothers and nieces.
Only an absolute ruler of the most primitive kind or direct dictatorship would commit such blatant theft of the state’s resources. Taib’s excuse is that he “left the room” when decisions benefitting him were executed by his people, thereby providing him with deniability, according to a law enacted by Najib’s hopelessly corrupt government in 2009.
Coincidently – Najib has attempted to say that the decisions which transferred billions from 1MDB into his bank accounts were made by his junior or appointed officers.