If Taib is clean, then Najib must be a saint

It was a coincidence. On the same day that I mentioned Abdul Taib Mahmud in an article on the Sandakan by-election, Malaysiakini ran a story quoting the Sarawak governor?s press secretary, Jameson Ahip Nawie, as reminding the public that the MACC has absolved Taib of any wrongdoing.

In?my article?on May 10, I concluded on this note: I wish my fellow Sarawakians were of the same breed as Sabahans. But no, Sarawakians are more docile, more apathetic and, I have to say this, more?paloi?(stupid). We allowed Taib to be the chief minister for 33 long years, giving him free rein to suck our homeland dry. Are we, Sarawakians, not?paloi?

Jameson said in a statement that the MACC has?exonerated Taib?from any wrongdoing, in the wake of Taib being linked by the Swiss-based Bruno Manser Fund (BMF) to an allegedly illegal land-clearing operation just outside Mulu National Park.

Jameson pointed to a July 3, 2018 press conference held by MACC chief commissioner Mohd Shukri Abdull in relation to 15 separate investigations opened into the Sarawak governor.

He stressed that the MACC chief had said there was?no case?against Taib, due to lack of evidence regarding his involvement in the decision-making process.

Let me respond to this first. Is there anyone out there who really believes that Taib, chief minister from 1981 to 2014, is squeaky clean? That he is neither greedy nor corrupt and had never abused his power? That, in Taib?s own words, his immense wealth today was the result of his investments in his children, who were particularly bright and astute business people?

When the media reported that the governor?s personal assets are valued between RM30-RM45 billion, Taib never denied it. His corrupt acts and power abuses are legendary and the governor had wisely never publicly responded in detail to any of these allegations.

He would probably never have to, unless he is charged in court. As things stand now, that route to see justice done does not look too promising.

My call to investigate the ‘biggest thief’

Soon after Pakatan Harapan emerged victorious in GE14, I had urged Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad?to investigate?a person whom I had described as the nation’s ?biggest thief.?

?A certain individual in Sarawak who was reportedly worth a staggering RM45 billion, according to a 2012 report by BMF, is a Sarawakian. If the sum amassed by this person’s family and state ministers were taken into account, the figure would be a staggering RM64 billion.

?This is wealth derived from plundering the state over three decades. If the prime minister and the Pakatan Harapan government are going after Najib Abdul Razak for his allegedly stolen wealth, then this individual from Sarawak must be thoroughly investigated too. He could easily have stolen much more from the state over 30 long years than Najib,? I said in a statement on May 14 last year.

Surely, there is no need for any second guessing as to who I was referring to.

Here, I must add that if Taib is clean, then Najib must be a saint. One is currently paying the price for his abuses while in power, having to face a slew of criminal charges and a long-drawn court battle while the other is living it up like royalty as an octogenarian, travelling around the world with his new, young family.

The other issue which I must take up in Jameson?s statement is when he said that the position of the Sarawak governor “is an apolitical appointment, which should be above politics or public debate”.

I believe that is true in the cases of Sarawak?s five out of seven post-Independence governors, namely Abang Haji Openg, Tuanku Bujang Tuanku Othman, Abang Mohamad Salahuddin and Ahmad Zaidi Adruce.

But I?m not sure I would say the same for Abdul Rahman Yakub (photo) and the current governor, Taib. Rahman was chief minister before he retired in 1981 to move into the Astana. His grand design was to be the head of state while his nephew, Taib, would lead the government and together, they would be in total control of Sarawak.

Aren?t these political manoeuvres and politics in full blown? Talk was that when Rahman wanted to exert control over his nephew over the issuance of logging licences to his ?people?, Taib would have none of it as he too had his own group of supporters to please.

This was widely believed to be the cause of the uncle-nephew feud which culminated into the infamous Ming Court coup in 1987, two years after Rahman was ?chased out? of the Astana. Taib did not recommend his uncle?s re-appointment for a second term as governor in 1985.

When Taib stepped down as chief minister in 2014, he had pre-planned his move to be governor. So, did the king ?appoint? the Sarawak governor or did the aspirants, in the case of Rahman and Taib, ?appoint? themselves?

It is no secret that Taib is still a powerful ?politician? in Sarawak and he is believed to be calling the ?main shots?, leaving the day-to-day running of the government to the chief minister, Abang Johari Openg.

Abang Johari?s predecessor, Adenan Satem, made an effort to emerge out of Taib?s shadows when he publicly proclaimed at one stage that ?I am my own man, I am not ?white hair? and I do not have to take instructions from him. He does not tell me what to do?.

The late Adenan said it as it should be said and he must surely have been disturbed by Taib breathing down his neck.

The governor?s post is a ceremonial one and rightly should be apolitical. Unfortunately, that seems to have been thrown off-tangent by powerful politicians.

The office of the governor is to be respected but that doesn?t mean that the occupant of the Astana in Kuching must be exalted too. Like many Sarawakians, I have little respect for the present governor, and for obvious reasons.

I understand that my old friend, Jameson Ahip Nawie, is only doing his job as a very ?civil? civil servant and has to support and defend his master at every turn.

But I?m sure he also understands what I mean when I declare that if Taib is clean, then Najib is a saint, or perhaps an angel.

Opinion by
Francis Paul Siah – Head of Movement for Change, Sarawak (MoCS)

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