How Taib Family’s Palm Oil Thugs Enforce ‘Rough Justice’

How Taib Family's Palm Oil Thugs Enforce 'Rough Justice'

Sarawak Report

The awful scenes of the death of George Floyd opened the eyes of the American public to a brutal reality hidden from normal view – everyone knew it was just one example of how black people have fared at the hands of law enforcement.

It was allowed to circulate by Facebook and YouTube, presumably in the public interest, but with a warning.

In Sarawak, the fortunately less terrible video of the systematic, prolonged and brutal beating of a stunned and defenceless young man at the hands of five ‘Security Guards’ for a private company owned by the Taib family is likewise the latest example of oppressive thuggery against native people.

His crime? Alleged trespass as he had come looking for his parents working on their plantation.

When we placed the footage on Facebook those anxious to hide the truth (the company itself?) rushed to get it taken down by complaining of ‘violent content’ to the moderators.

As a result, YouTube (who self-regulate and do so as cheaply as possible) took the easy way out – who cares about Sarawak? They are “sorry if you are disappointed”.Feeble attempt at intervention by Police Bantuan... himself employed by Ta Ann

Feeble attempt at intervention by Police Bantuan… himself employed by Ta Ann

Therefore, given the obvious public interest and concern, we are posting it ourselves and employing our own ‘Sarawak Report Policy On Content’ which we consider to be superior to that of YouTube, given we put actual time and thought into the matter.

Under this policy we have decided to label the video with a warning but to nonetheless show it via our site, in order to expose how people are treated at the hands of self-confident bullies protected by this state government.

We believe that, as with the George Floyd video in America, every responsible Sarawakian should view the way 22 year old Neilson Digat Anak Regi was treated and consider what it says about the company Ta Ann who employed these thugs and who have so far issued no apologies. Instead, they have counter-sued the complainants according to the usual playbook.

Ta Ann, as all Sarawakians know, is owned by the Governor’s cousin and proxy Hamid Sepawi and luxuriates in huge timber and plantation concessions granted throughout the state of Sarawak thanks to the self-same Taib Mahmud.Picked up to be hit again

Picked up to be hit again

Neilson is understood to have come onto the palm oil plantation looking for his parents who both work there.

For this he was regarded as trespassing on the huge swathe of alienated public land and hence the treatment the ‘Security Guards’ meted out – they attacked the boy with sticks, and repeatedly punched and kicked him even as he lay still on the ground and tried to drag himself away.

If one of their number – a so-called Police Bantuan, who is an ‘auxiliary police officer’ paid for by the company – had not eventually intervened, the behaviour of these thugs makes clear they might easily have killed this boy they had chosen to take out their anger out on.

On Monday, the matter was raised in court by PKR land rights lawyer Roland Engan on behalf of the young, injured man.

However, instead of being dealt with by the local Miri authorities it was immediately raised upwards and out of the area to the state public prosecutors in Kuching – a sign of the special status of Ta Ann and its ‘important’ owners?

Expect delays in the hearing of it. Long delays,Armed with heavy sticks

Armed with heavy sticks

Contrast that with what has happened to the boy’s grandfather who had later returned to the company to protest at what had been done to his boy?

Understandably the older man carried a defensive stick himself and came with others – who wouldn’t?

The stick was not used as the old man made his complaint.

Nonetheless, the thug company folk saw fit to complain to the police over alleged ‘intimidation’ by the outraged grandparent and that case has been filed immediately into the local magistrate’s court, where if past precedent gives any indication there will be a sympathetic ear for the connected company and little concern for the dispossessed former native inhabitants of the land.

Most of the time the power of decision making, the forceful march of the bulldozers and the bias of the law enforcers all work successfully together to deprive the local people of Sarawak of their lands and livelihoods without much public appearance of the brute violence that underpins the vast land grabs that have benefitted the Taib’s and their political and business cronies over many years.

However, as any villager who dares stand up to what is going on knows only too well that if deemed necessary they will be attacked, beaten up and/or reported to the law to be framed, incarcerated or otherwise punished.

So, it is important for the world to be able to see how private guards working for a politically connected company in Sarawak think they can treat a defenceless individual whom they apparently find a nuisance, without calling the proper police as they should or considering in the least his human rights.

In Sarawak it is truly the law of the jungle – increasingly without the jungle.

Warning, the video beneath contains graphic punching, kicking and hitting with sticks by five people against a defenceless young man already beaten to the ground.

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‘I’m still Sarawakian first, Malaysian second’

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 37944ec014b4f872c479e32ba4664d0f.jpeg


COMMENT So, has Muhyiddin Yassin decided to change his position? Is he no longer “a Malay first, Malaysian second” – an infamous statement he made in 2010 when he was deputy prime minister?

Launching the National Unity Policy and National Unity Blueprint 2021-2030 on Feb 15, Muhyiddin cautioned Malaysians against politicians who use race for personal gain. Now, who’s talking?

From being publicly labelled a racist a decade ago to a preacher of national unity today, that is a 180-degree turnaround for our backdoor leader. The pertinent moral question to ask now is his motivation for the about-turn.

Well, I am not Muhyiddin. He is the prime minister, the most powerful guy in the country.

His decisions matter. People pay attention to what he says. The prime minister’s words and actions affect all of us Malaysians, one way or the other.

Me – I am nobody, a country bumpkin from Sarawak. I originated from the jungles of Borneo. No one bothers about what I say or write. I am irrelevant.

Why, some think that Sarawakians like me are still living on trees and the only material covering our bodies is the cawat (loin cloth).

That is okay. I’m not offended. I can only afford a loin cloth because I am not a politician and I don’t steal. I live within my means. The mere mention of Gucci, Versace and Louis Vuitton scares the hell out of me. Pasar malam wear works fine for me.

However, unlike Muhyiddin, I do not have to change my stand as and when it is deemed necessary (read “politically expedient”) to do so.

As the prime minister, Muhyiddin has to sing to the favoured tune of his listeners and flow easy with the tide. He must be careful with his song selection and ensure that he does not swim against the current too, lest he drowns.

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin

As for me, I’m not bothered about political expediency because I am not dependent on a political career. Thus, I do not have to force myself to put on an act and hide behind a façade of lies and deceptions.

What is important here is that as I do not depend on politics to survive, I don’t have to keep changing the goalposts just to please certain quarters because I need their support and votes.

In other words, a political leader has to excel in hypocrisy and feel no remorse in going against his better conscience. He has to learn to lie through his teeth and even feel good that he is most adept at it. What a disoriented and depressing life that must be!

Proud, loyal, patriotic

I have written a few articles in reference to Muhyiddin’s “Malay first, Malaysian second” remark over the years, responding with my declaration that “I’m Sarawakian first, Malaysian second”. I have also explained why.

“Many Sarawakians have long been unhappy with Putrajaya’s neglect and nonchalant stand on many fronts concerning our homeland, which we deem unfair and unjust”, I wrote in my column here on July 5, 2019.

Today, my position is the same. Unlike the prime minister, I see no reason to shift my goalposts which remain sturdy. I don’t have to turn into a hypocrite and a liar. I do not have to go out of my way to please anyone and public support and votes mean nothing to me.

A most crucial poser: Has anything changed over the past decade to make me feel more Malaysian today? Nope. In fact, the situation has worsened further, so much so that I have to proclaim today that I am utterly ashamed to be a Malaysian.

The list of moans and groans is long and could possibly fill up a book. As the grievances are well known to all, I will spare the details.

Someone just wrote: “Forget Denmark, for all is rotten in the state of Malaysia.” It will do us all a lot of good to chew on this.


To those (the ultra Malayans) who had told me in the past to “balik Tong San” if I was not happy being a Malaysian, let me respond today: China is not my homeland. Sarawak is. Go tell your leaders to expel Sarawak (like Singapore in 1965). That will be a day of great rejoicing for many Sarawakians, me certainly.

Or at least, allow a referendum on Sarawak that will permit us to decide on the future destiny of our territory and the generations of Sarawakians to come.

To another who had stated that I should be charged for treason for my “Sarawakian first” stand, let me say that I choose to be a proud, loyal and patriotic Sarawakian rather than being known as an ugly Malaysian. (By the way, I have never been called “ugly” in all my life; at least grant this old man that little allowance and pleasure in vanity. Ha.)

For the benefit of those who are unaware, Sarawak political parties from both sides have gone down the pro-Sarawak route, using slogans such as “Sarawak for Sarawakians”, “Sarawak First” and “Independence for Sarawak” slogans in their election campaigns.

That tells me one thing. In my “Sarawakian first” stand, I am not alone and my position will not change.


FRANCIS PAUL SIAH is the author of Hijack in Malaysia: The Fall of Pakatan Harapan. Obtain autographed copies from

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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‘I was a corrupt politician’ – no such admission yet?



COMMENT For me, the Malaysiakini story of the month should go to “Justice gone wrong: Jailed for graft, ex-magistrate shares his story” published on Feb 5.

What a refreshing piece it was. For the first time for as long as I can remember, here is a former key official of the court admitting publicly that “I was a corrupt magistrate”.

When was the last time we heard of a genuine repentant who openly conceded that he had been a corrupt civil servant and that he was truly remorseful for his many misdeeds while in the service?

Here’s a shout-out for the writer, Faisal Asyraf, for penning the piece. I consider it one of a kind. Good job, Faisal.

On that very day itself, Feb 5, I posted this message on Facebook: “Today, I salute Firdaus Ramlan, a former magistrate who paid the price for corruption, for his courage and honesty to tell the world – ‘Yes, I was a corrupt magistrate’.

“But not a single politician, including those convicted of swindling millions, had ever admitted – ‘I was a corrupt politician’.

“And why are we not surprised?”

Reactions to my post were mainly in praise of Firdaus which was deserving indeed.

Here is a sample of the responses:

“At least he is honest enough to admit it. Alas, none of the politicians so far! Disastrous and shameless!”

“People make mistakes. If they are prepared to turn over a new leaf, good.”

“What an honest confession. There is a well-oiled system in place to facilitate corruption in the courts. Tip of the corruption iceberg”.


Not surprisingly, the story has also gone viral in Malaysiakini. It also attracted more than 150 comments from readers.

I believe that the majority of Malaysiakini readers are an affluent and discerning lot. Most are usually critical, but in this case, there were accolades aplenty for Firdaus.

It was not only the honesty of the repentant Firdaus that won him praise. The revelation by the ex-magistrate of the intense malpractices in the judiciary, right at the junior magistrate level, was now laid bare.

“At that time, the corrupt system was already in place. I had inherited it. This was an open secret,” Firdaus admitted, adding that “brokers” within the system acted as middle-persons between him and the crooks.

Although one or two judges had spoken up in the past of alleged corrupt practices within the judiciary, Firdaus’ case was different. Perhaps for the first time, there was a court official who openly admitted that he was on the take. He was a recipient, not a whistleblower.

Hence, I support the call by DAP’s Ramkarpal Singh to chief justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat to investigate allegations of corruption revealed by Firdaus.

Tengku Maimun should take up this case as a matter of great urgency as it is of grave concern whether magistrates are still inheriting the rotten system today, as claimed by Firdaus.

If young magistrates are already corrupt, what hope is there for justice in the country when they “graduate” to the higher benches later?

I congratulate Firdaus for coming clean and in particular for embarking on his mission to educate civil servants and prevent them from falling into the same trap as him.

A serious question. Has anyone ever heard of a Malaysian politician publicly admitting that he or she has been corrupt? Do share if you have. I cannot recall any, even after all these decades of observing politics in the country.

I have also posted this in a private chat group and a friend rightly pointed out – do you expect a thief to tell the whole world that he is a thief? Then, he must be the greatest idiot on earth.

Yeah, right, how could I forget how a former prime minister told a GE14 ceramah that he had not stolen “a single sen” in his many years at the helm of the nation? Let’s just say I gave myself a slap upon hearing that just to make sure I heard it right.

As I write this, a Perak PKR man with ties to a former minister has been detained by the MACC for alleged corruption. A woman minister has also been asked to explain the source of her wealth after settling million-ringgit debts.

There is no necessity to mention names as I am sure we all know who the personalities are.

As with all previous cases involving politicians, some of whom have been convicted, don’t expect any concession or confession from them or in more future cases of similar misconduct or malpractices.

Certainly not from this particular breed of known daylight robbers we call politicians. They will claim innocence till their final hour at the death bed, some will run and hide while the more fortunate will be protected by the imbedded sick system.

But there is something we all know – rumours are often true. So, don’t blame the public if they tend to believe more in rumours at times.

Finally, I must say that I am very happy to learn that Firdaus is still relatively young at 39. He has many good years ahead and I believe that his shot at redemption will be fruitful and meaningful.

Good luck and Godspeed, Firdaus.


FRANCIS PAUL SIAH is the author of ‘Hijack in Malaysia: The Fall of Pakatan Harapan’. Obtain autographed copies from

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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After settling million-ringgit debts, Rina told to explain her source of wealth


A DAP lawmaker has demanded that Women, Family and Community Development Minister Rina Harun explains her source of wealth in repaying million-ringgit debts in order to halt a bankruptcy action.

In a statement today, DAP’s Canning assemblyperson Jenny Choy raised question over Rina’s wealth based on the asset declaration list published for public view by the MACC.

“It was reported that Rina has settled her debts to a Paris- based film company. She was earlier served with a Bankruptcy Notice for debts amounting to RM1,340,642.02,”

“She should explain how she managed to accumulate sufficient wealth and fund to pay off the huge debt in a short period of 15 months as the Assets Declaration data shows that Rina’s assets stood at RM72,000 when the same was made public on Nov 20, 2019, with an income of RM34,004.48 a month,” Choy said.

“If Rina’s income remained unchanged since 2019, it would take 40 months for Rina to accumulate the fund to settle the debts in the Bankruptcy Notice, provided that she didn’t spend a single cent from her income,” she added.

Jenny Choy

Choy questioned if Rina had made a false declaration in November 2019 on her assets.

“Being a cabinet minister and public servant, Rina owes the people an explanation,” added the DAP Youth vice-chief.

Yesterday, Free Malaysia Today quoted a lawyer representing Sarl Novovision, the Paris-based film and television programme production company, as saying the minister had settled her debts last week.

However, the lawyer, Mark Ho, declined to disclose the exact outstanding amount paid by Rina.

“We received a cheque on Wednesday and it was cleared the following day,” Ho said.

The French firm filed the suit against Rina on Nov 8, 2018, demanding that the full amount be paid by July 31, 2019.

The claim was for several films, comedy shows and documentaries in the comedy genre sold to three companies in which Rina was director.

Rina was served a bankruptcy notice for debts owed to Sarl Novovision to the tune of RM1,340,642.02 as of Nov 17, 2020.

Rina, who was one of the directors of the now-defunct companies Eurofine (M) Sdn Bhd, Fine Mobile Network Sdn Bhd and Fine TV Network Sdn Bhd, had purchased several comedy shows and documentaries from the French company.

In May 2014, Rina and another company director, Ida Rahayu Md Noor, had entered into a guarantee agreement with Sarl Novovision that they would personally and jointly undertake all liabilities of the companies.

However, the companies were closed down between December 2013 and August 2015, respectively.


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Appreciate the good cops, too

COMMENT By and large, I had had a good working relationship with the police in Sarawak in years gone by.

From the late 1970s to early 90s, I would come to know all the Sarawak police commissioners personally from the time of Tan Sri Hamdan Sirat to Datuk Seri Yuen Yuet Leng and Datuk Mohamad Yassin.

There were other senior officers like Tan Sri Jamil Johari, Datuk Aba Robiyel Huk, Datuk Abang Abdul Wahap Abang Julai, Datuk Vincent Chapman, Vincent Khoo, Charles Chin and Abang Adris Abang Suhai, to name a few. Some had since passed on but I remember them as nice, supportive and helpful friends.

From a young journalist in Sibu to an editor in Kuching later, getting to know and cooperating with them had helped me in my profession as a media man.

I was much younger then and these were senior guys whom I respected. I also came to understand and appreciate policing better in a way as a result of my ties with them.

Being a police officer was no easy job; the higher your rank, the tougher it was with the enormous duties and heavy responsibilities on your shoulder.

Discipline is an important quality for the men in blue, as it is for all involved in law enforcement. Policemen deal regularly with the public and discipline brings forth good leadership and courage when dealing with issues affecting the community and nation.

The Royal Malaysian Police’s motto, “Tegas, Adil and Berhemah” (Firm, Just and Well-Mannered), stands proud and tall among the men and women in blue. It is meant to be a constant reminder about the importance of discipline within the force.

Because police officers are expected to be role models, any act of misbehaviour on their part is usually widely reported and publicly frowned upon. Police misconduct is generally intolerable and understandably so.

When policemen are supposed to be law enforcers, it is inconceivable for any of them to break the law. A tall order indeed but abide and live by the police motto at all times if you wish to be in service with the force.

Sadly, allegations and reports of police misdeeds are all too common these days. Most of us will surely find no joy in reading about them in the press.

Of late, the rape of a 16-year-old girl in the Miri central police station lock-up has hogged the media limelight for weeks. A total of 11 senior and lower-ranking police officers are facing disciplinary action in relation to the rape incident.

This past week, over in Kuala Lumpur, police personnel accused of harassing two women drivers stopped at separate movement control order (MCO) roadblocks were also being questioned by their superiors. The investigation also looked at the conduct and compliance procedures of police personnel while on duty.

Last Friday in Batu Pahat, Johor, four men believed to be robbery suspects were shot dead by the police. Following queries by an NGO on the matter, Johor police claimed the men in blue acted in “self-defense”. What else is new in such shootouts!

It is not uncommon too to hear of other serious crimes such as rape and deaths in police custody. Worst, the Special Branch was also accused by Suhakam of being responsible for the disappearance of four pastors, including Raymond Koh and Amri Che Mat. The pastors are still missing.

As a Sarawakian, I am glad that such ‘serious’ cases allegedly committed by our men in blue are rare in my homeland.

Allegations of police corruption and excessive use of force have dogged the Malaysian police for decades. I do not expect this to end in an organisation of 130,000 men and women.

Neither do I think that the Independent Police Complaints of Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) Bill 2019 or the watered-down Independent Police Conduct Commission (IPCC) Bill 2020 will be of much help to give the police image a lift.

Despite my pessimism, I also feel that it is only fair that we appreciate the good work of the majority in the police force. There are many decent and disciplined men and women who go about their daily work with diligence in helping to ensure peace and order.

We are forever indebted to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice while carrying out their duties and making sure that you and I are safe.

Like Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador once said, “There may be 500 corrupt and bad policemen but do not forget the other 129,500 good ones”.

Yes, let us appreciate the hard work of the diligent, selfless, good cops too.

In parting, let me salute those retired Sarawak police officers whom I’ve mentioned above: “You are all great guys, had been good cops and excelled as disciplined police officers.

“I am proud to have known you all and call you my friends.”

-New Sarawak Tribune

The views expressed here are those of the columnist and do not necessarily represent the views of New Sarawak Tribune. Feedback can reach the writer at

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Image result for muhyiddin


Dear Mr Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin,

In keeping with the spirit of the Chinese New Year and with the mutual respect that you spoke of in your CNY message, here’s my bouquet of praises to you.

First of all, no Prime Minister but you alone, has been so outstanding in humility. You chose to lead your government through the backdoor instead of the front door.

Next, you are such an astute politician! Your declaration of “Malay First” was a first-class act, — you were putting yourself first, in your insatiable desire to be the PM.

Mr Prime Minister, you have even given a personal touch to your premiership by calling yourself “Abah” – yes, you are “Father” to all Malaysians – especially to your illegitimate children in the (illegitimate) government.

You are willing to work with anyone – “for the sake of the nation” — even with the very people who are from a party which you once denounced as corrupt – and you did it “for the sake of saving the nation”. Remember?

You have shown the Malays the true paradox of Malay politics — to achieve “Malay Unity” you have created historic Malay Disunity and to enhance “Malay Dignity” you have made corruption as your government’s SOP!

You even made yourself God’s spokesman when you declared that it was “divine will (which) has caused the three parties (Bersatu, Umno and PAS) to band together for the sake of the Malay-Muslim community’s unity.” God must have tightened the security of heaven’s backdoor after that.

You have even started a new reward system, that of government backbenchers being appointed as heads of GLCs. Obviously, you now share Najib’s sentiments when he sacked you, declaring: “I value loyal people over ‘smart people’.”

Mr Prime Minister you must be very proud of your CREATIVE CABINET — ministers who not only are adept at giving different directives and answers on the same issue on different days, but also differing from those given by other relevant ministers or authorities.

Much to the surprise of many, you have displayed the art of running the country all by yourself, by suspending parliament! Once again you have done this for the sake of the rakyat – who never voted for your government! What a work of art!

It is because of you that we will be a “First” World country. After all, Malaysia is the first and only nation in the world which has suspended her Parliament in an Emergency in the name of Covid-19.

Finally, it is very encouraging to hear that you will be the first person to be vaccinated with the Covid-19 vaccine by Pfizer – the company most famous for developing the erectile-dysfunction drug Viagra.

It will surely make you more political virile after you had lost all confidence, in the face of accusations of political impotence and of a no-confidence vote, aggravated by the increasingly dysfunctional Malay Unity in your coalition.

Never mind the worry in your party that you will you go soft and not be strong like an Ox and have a firm hold of the government and face the hard realities that you are confronted with.

In closing, indeed history will remember you as the “First” PM of Malaysia who ruled with a government that was never elected by the people, the First PM with the smallest number of MPs in his party, and the first to politically survive with an “Emergency-kit”. Congratulations

Martin Jalleh@FB

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Retired nun grateful for support to help run charity home


KOTA KINABALU: An outpouring of support and assistance continues for Catholic nun Sister Nora @ Mary Annunciata Marcus after news of her solo work housing people with mental and social issues in Tambunan district went viral recently.

The 61-year-old has been receiving lots of calls and texts from good Samaritans all over the country, asking how they could help especially after news of her work was published in newspapers.

“So many people came forward telling me they wished to help, many transferred money to the registered account we have while others gave clothes, food and other forms of assistance, ” she said Saturday (Feb 13).

Sister Mary said she is not sure how much exactly they have received thus far, as the registered account is held by three individuals and all must go to the bank together if they wish to check on the bank statement or withdraw money to use for the charity home.

As for the help she received, Sister Mary said these people were a godsend, making it possible for her to conduct her works more efficiently.

“I also now have a handyman hired by someone anonymously to help out, he does the maintenance, buys daily essentials and is also in charge of taking our residents to and from the hospital, ” she said.

The handyman is a 24-year-old hotel chef who was recently laid off due to the dwindling hotel business amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Without help from all of you, I would not be able to do this on my own in such a way that has become so much easier now, ” Sister Mary said.

However, she is secretly dealing with a lot of mental and emotional stress due to the condition of her residents, many of whom were mentally disabled and troubled as well as physically challenged.

She said she is trying her best to provide for them but hopes that someone who is specially trained to deal with such patients can render assistance.

Nevertheless, she is grateful for all the help she is getting now, and sends her thanks through her daily prayers.

News of Sister Mary’s works were shared on social media recently, where it was reported that she had started the charity home in Kg Makatip Pagalan on a piece of land belonging to Tambunan assemblyman, Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan, using her life savings of about RM30,000.

The retired nun had just returned from England where she was last based in 2018.

Those wishing to lend a helping hand can do so by contacting Sister Mary at 011-1421 3291 but might need to make several attempts, sometimes over days, before they can reach her due to the location of the charity home and poor phone lines.

The charity home is registered with the Registrar of Societies and has an account under Persatuan Kebajikan Makatip Sabah, Bank Simpanan Nasional account number 1213741100006512.

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At times, Najib deserves credit too

Giving credit where credit is due is a very rewarding habit to form. Its rewards are inestimable. Loretta Young, American actress

COMMENT Those of us following political development on social media will readily agree that the majority who bother to post or respond are anti-establishment.

I would consider this majority group as among the more affluent and most likely, not aligned to any political party. The brave and courageous respond with their real names while the timid and cowardly hide behind pseudonyms.

The pro-establishment respondents are usually in the minority, and are either members of political parties or personally aligned with government leaders and elected representatives.

Then, there are also the paid cybertroopers — from both sides. These are people who are dependent on politics for a living. Although what they do may be immoral, it is also understandable — they need to survive. So, let us not curse them.

I believe this assessment is correct for the most part.

As a political commentator, I have often been misunderstood by readers from both these two categories. I have been branded an oppositionist as well as a “loose cannon” or the demeaning “government sycophant”.

Well, as a writer, I know I can never win, not when you are being attacked from both sides. When the flavour presented is not in their favour, they will unleash their poison. In most cases, cowardly anonymously.

Let me relate an example which is relevant here as I am about to give credit yet again to former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak.

In an article titled “I salute the ‘fighter’ in Najib”, published in Malaysiakini (more than two years ago) on Oct 29, 2018 in which I wrote a feel-good piece about Najib and complimented him for his indomitable fighting spirit, the brickbats against me were numerous and furious.

No prize for guessing where the attacks originated. Correct, mainly from supporters of Pakatan Harapan. They expect all political writers to write favourably of the leaders and coalition they support. Nothing good must be said about BN/Umno leaders.

It is as if I am not permitted (by them) to compliment Najib, even if the former prime minister had made public statements favourable to the rakyat. As Najib/Umno are their sworn enemies, so they must be mine too — this is what their shallow and pea-sized brains tell them.

At times, I choose to look at Najib the man, and not the former prime minister accused of heading the previous kleptocratic government which brought Malaysia to its knees.

Last Friday, Najib joined the chorus of voices against the Chinese New Year rules drawn up by the National Security Council (MKN), stating they do not accurately reflect the celebration.

I have noted that Najib is one of the most senior Malay politicians who spoke up on the issue. From his remarks, it is clear he understands Chinese traditions associated with CNY.

For instance, Najib said, the reunion dinner was one of the most important aspects of CNY. It involves immediate family members, grandparents, uncles, aunties and cousins getting together.

“But the SOP (standard operating procedure), only allowing those from the same home to hold a reunion dinner does not mean anything … it will be just a normal dinner,” he said in a Facebook post.

Najib sensibly added that it would have been more meaningful if the SOP just touched on the ban on visitors.

Last month, Najib also ticked off the PAS menteri besar of Kedah for taking out Thaipusam as a public holiday in the state, saying that the MB was insensitive to the religious observation of the Hindus.

On these two occasions, wasn’t Najib speaking up for the rakyat, in this case, the Chinese and Hindus? Isn’t it fair then that we give credit where it is due, even if we do not support him or Umno politically?

That is my point.

For CNY this week, Sarawakians must be glad that the SOPs are different from those in Malaya.

SUPP secretary-general Datuk Sebastian Ting announced that the SOPs drawn up by the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) allows up to 20 people at the dinner but it cannot be held in hotels or restaurants.

“SDMC’s SOP for reunion dinner is different as it takes into account the families of brothers and sisters, with nephews and nieces, who are living in the same town or city and it would be illogical not to allow them to practise this age-old tradition,” said Ting, who is the Assistant Minister for Tourism.

Following a backlash, the National Security Council (NSC) updated its Chinese New Year SOPs last Sunday, relaxing some rules including on family reunion.

To sum up my main pointer here, can we all be less emotional and think aloud before we go bashing up every politician we don’t like to look in the eye? Let’s exercise tact and decorum in political debates.

When our opponents had done or said something right and proper, be magnanimous and give credit too.

A wise person once said: “When you give credit where it is due, it shows your character and class”

So, remember to show some class, folks, when partaking in political debates.

– New Sarawak Tribune

The views expressed here are those of the columnist and do not necessarily represent the views of New Sarawak Tribune. Feedback can reach the writer at

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‘I will not waste time going out to vote’



COMMENT A senior editor with a publishing house in Kuala Lumpur and a dear friend sent me this message last week.

“I am not going to vote when the 15th general election (GE15) is called. All the politicians around today are morons. None of them is worth my vote. Why should I waste precious time going out to vote for morons?”

That was a private message (hence, no name is mentioned) but it is no secret that many are harbouring such sentiments. I believe many Malaysians are also considering that option, rightly or wrongly.

Since voting in Malaysia is not compulsory (so, be assured that you would not be fined or jailed for not voting), it has become a personal choice. People do not vote too for a variety of legitimate reasons.

Those who have decided or are contemplating not to vote will surely have one key reason on top of their list – they are sick and tired of politics in this country. Either they have lost all interest in politics or they choose to be indifferent. Who can deny the voter that right to make a personal choice?

This is also a time when public trust in government is at historic lows. Whether it be a Perikatan Nasional (PN) or Pakatan Harapan government, the same players are still around and people do not foresee much changes or reforms for the better ahead.

People may decide to abstain from voting because they do not trust a nation that they feel has lied and perpetuated systemic abuse against minorities, aggravated further by extremism and bigotry by even those in government.

I have said my piece on this matter too. Politicians from both sides are irresponsibly responsible for the people’s restlessness and disillusionment. Let me repeat: To hell with both PN and Harapan!

In case there are certain quarters (likely self-serving politicians and their cohorts) who will accuse me of encouraging people not to vote, let me say this: I have no such intention.

Neither do I possess any power to influence voters. However, I wish to advise politicians to take serious note of my friend’s message to me earlier. It is also a message for them.

When an educated guy described Malaysian politicians today as “morons”, it will do the politicians a lot of good to examine their conscience and reflect why they are deemed as such.

They should stop taking for granted that voters are also morons like them, stupidly going out to vote every five years, hoping against hope that they would make Malaysia great again (to borrow from former US president Donald Trump), only to see the country brought to its knees, time and again.

Many are saying enough is enough; gone are the days when fools believed in and voted for fools. Voters will no longer be bloody fools or the greater morons. It is their right not to partake in meaningless elections.

Please cut the nonsense about one’s responsibility to vote in a democracy and stop preaching about the sacred vote. Malaysians have dutifully and responsibly voted for decades, but they have been let down all too often by selfish, immoral and corrupt politicians.

To encourage a larger turnout, perhaps we should seriously consider introducing a “none of the above (Nota)” ballot whereby people who have no confidence in all of the candidates can formally “vote” without endorsing any candidate by selecting Nota. India and France are two countries with the Nota system.

I have also noted that very few politicians are actually concerned about low voter turnout in GE15 or in future elections.

In spite of and despite the seriousness of the Covid-19 pandemic, they are still keen to gun each other down, the latest furore over just a memoir by former attorney-general Tommy Thomas. Now you understand why they are called morons.

Image result for mohamad sabu

On this score, I give credit to Amanah president Mohamad Sabu (photo), who had wisely stated that convincing the people to vote in the next general election will be a tough challenge.

He pointed out that many are disillusioned with voting due to party hopping, adding that “the next election will not be easy for us to campaign for as there are some people who don’t want to vote anymore”.

Mat Sabu expressed his concern in late December and I am surprised that none of his Harapan colleagues followed up on the matter. Perhaps, Harapan people do not think this is a big issue and that Malaysians will go out in droves to the polls, like before.

This time, they could be in for a big shock!

As for me, I have to fly back to Sarawak to cast my vote at every election. I’m not sure whether it’s worth my time, effort and resources to do so in the next one.

However, one thing is certain – I will not be voting for a moron.

– Malaysiakini

FRANCIS PAUL SIAH is the author of ‘Hijack in Malaysia: The Fall of Pakatan Harapan’. Obtain autographed copies from

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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Chorus Of Punctured Egos

Chorus Of Punctured Egos

Sarawak Report

The deluge of pompous outrage and ruffled feathers on display this week from amongst the cream of the KL establishment, accustomed as they are to flattery and fawning, has been quite something.

The cause? A memoir by the ex-AG giving his perspective on a life spent trying to serve justice in the country.

In quintessential Malaysian style, many of the unhappy individuals who felt their sense of superiority impugned by its pages were off to the police station within hours, much the way form five complains to teacher.

Others have been waiving civil threats about, trading in tens of millions naturally, given the high value of the reputation of Datuks and the like (particularly from UMNO).

By the close of the week a police spokesmen confirmed to journalists the receipt of no less than seven ‘criminal complaints’ saying the force had referred two of them to Mr Thomas’s successor, who himself has reason resent the widespread criticism that he has failed to fill those shoes over the past few months.

The Home Ministry, headed by the multiple turncoat and political jumping frog, Hamzah Zainuddin, has meanwhile leaked to enquiring journalists there is a prospect the book will be banned …. for reasons as yet unclear, but in BN/PN Malaysia it could be anything.

As books responded by flying off the shelves (of course) others have wondered how so many of these injured folk managed to get through the weighty tome so swiftly?

Sarawak Report itself adopted the principle of omitting an index in circumstances such as these, which it is suspected might deter many who are less diligent readers than they are complainers from getting round to it. Perhaps Thomas should have followed suit.

The point being, how many of these folk actually stopped to think before they drew loud attention to the perceived insults in a book, which is itself written calmly, dispassionately and with a clear sincerity of opinion on events taken part in?  Opinions which any writer has a right to hold.

Or is it that these elite fellows are simply so used to abusing wealth and power that they intend to do Thomas damage whether or not they have a leg to stand on?

Particularly intriguing has been the tetchy complaint from descendants of Tun Abdul Razak, claiming the family honour has been besmirched by Thomas’s historical assessment of his role in the tragic events of 1969.

Update: this has been swiftly followed by yet another police report against him over the same matter by UMNO’s secretary general, naturally. The man clearly experiences not an ounce of shame as a charged recipient of RM2 million stolen from 1MDB – considers his ‘reputation’ smeared.

Given it is firmly established that you can’t libel the dead, and no one has done more to damage the Razak name than the present generation, surely the less said the better? But no, Najib himself has promised libel action (this time on Monday).

Perhaps, given Malaysia’s raft of woolly laws against ‘inciting’ disharmony, the establishment plans to accuse the author of making them so angry by failing to sufficiently flatter their perceived good image of themselves that it threatens the peace? Nothing would surprise, that’s for certain.

Meanwhile, outside in the wider democratic world (which Malaysia is supposed to be part of) bookshelves are groaning with this sort of book, rarely provoking much comment or legal backlash. Celebrities, politicians, senior diplomats and others draw a line underneath their careers by laying out their experiences and generally seeking to justify why they may have acted as they did.

These are rarely the last word on any issue, but they provide a useful insight. Those who might be annoyed know better than to bark.

Recently, the former National Security Advisor to the US government (there could hardly be a more sensitive role) wrote about “The Room Where It Happened” and was none too flattering about President Donald Trump. Trump retaliated calling him an “incompetent whacko” and the world first laughed and then moved on.

In Malaysia the insulted president would doubtless have filed a police report claiming anything during a period in public office should not be written about. He would probably also have darkly hinted that popular peace had been disturbed, thanks to the denigration of his superior self.  He would have then rushed off to a libel lawyer to complain that his excellent superior talents had insufficiently extolled, so he must be compensated at least RM100 million.

This after all is what has been going on within hours of Justice In the Wilderness hitting the bookshelves, wasting the time of police and legal officers during a period of lockdown challenges and all the rest. And, thanks to the identity of those protesting, it seems such antics are being treated seriously.

The key ground on which those with injured pride are plainly hoping to devise a criminal case against this dignified legal figure for not flattering them is breach of official secrecy.

A plainly livid Dr Mahathir, fuming that Thomas spilt the beans over his political manoeuvrings as he sought to go back on his election promise on transition, has been circulating a document pointing out the law denies any official the right to divulge any information obtained during his course of work via the exercise of legal rights of enquiry.

Ex-AG Apandi Ali, who issued his own statement waving papers outside the police station has threatened a similar approach.

Fair enough. Except, for those who have read the book it is clear that the AG has not divulged material gained in such a way, but rather deals by and large in facts that everyone already knows about, giving his own perspective and explaining why he took the positions that he did.

There is nothing, for example, that Thomas writes about Apandi’s lamentable conduct in his role that the world has not already read about either thanks to the media or a dozen court cases. He just adds his insights.

Likewise, Dr Mahathir may not like Thomas having divulged he told him that he was sacking him and Guan Eng to get the support of Hadi Awang for his Unity Government or that the old man had claimed he had the support of all 222 MPs. But this was not information that Thomas obtained through the execution of legal powers – Dr M volunteered the information.

More to the point, it was politics not official business of the state and people have a right to know. This gets to the heart of the problem with so many of the complaints against this book.

The memoir covers a period of many years, including some of the sensitive issues that confronted him in office. The ex-AG handles them in a steady compassionate tone, as he seeks to explain his decisions and why he thought them right. For example, the Fireman Muhammad Adib tragedy, a case that so many unscrupulous entities have sought to use to fire up hatred.

Thomas lays out his judgement of the evidence and why his department determined misadventure – none of which information is remotely secret. The cases on which he reflects, such as this one, were public not secret or official information.

Likewise, Najib and the Altantuya case. Everyone is aware of the accusations made by the ex-PM’s bodyguards who have now come out to testify they murdered the translator on Najib’s orders. It has all been released through recent court hearings and media reports. There is nothing secret. Thomas is reflecting on open information.

Meanwhile, it is notable that unlike certain individuals who are complaining and threatening the ex AG, Tommy Thomas does not indulge in Facebook or Social Media to rant daily against those he disagrees with over this matter or that.

He has instead taken his time to lay out his considered assessment of Malaysia’s halting progress towards a just society over his own lifetime. One thing for sure is that by seeking to hound and silence sincere and careful criticism and a factual narrative, Malaysia’s establishment is showing itself to be everything its most severe critics accuse them of.

They would do better to read the book through properly and do it the justice of a proper considered response.

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