Would Bersatu or Umno be welcome in Sarawak?

By Francis Paul Siah

COMMENT | Bersatu chairperson Dr Mahathir Mohamad recently announced that his party would make its presence felt in Sarawak.

He said that since Pakatan Harapan parties like DAP, PKR and Amanah were already in the state, it is time for Bersatu to make its presence felt as well. Mahathir also claimed that there were calls from Sarawakians for the party to establish itself there.

Similarly, some quarters in Umno have also expressed interest to enter Sarawak. Umno veterans club secretary-general Mustapha Yaakub recently stated that the withdrawal of BN component parties in Sarawak has paved the way for Umno’s entry.

“In truth, Umno has existed for a long time in Sarawak. Because of objections by Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu, Sarawak Umno had to take a back seat.

“And now, it is time for Sarawak Umno to spread its wings. We are confident that Sarawak will throw their support behind Umno,” Mustapha reportedly said.

It’s now very clear. BN is dead. All its former component parties are going their own way, particularly those in Sabah and Sarawak.

In Sarawak, the four ex-BN parties had decided to dissolve BN and formed their own political coalition, Gabungan Parti Sarawak. GPS is on its own and no longer answerable to their BN bosses in Umno as was the case in the past.

Now that the political realignment is official between PBB and Umno, there is nothing to prevent Umno from making its presence in Sarawak. PBB has no right to thwart such a move.

It is a fact that Umno had always harboured intentions to establish its presence in Sarawak. Umno, the backbone of the BN coalition which had ruled the nation for 61 years, had branches in every state, except Sarawak. Continue reading

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I won’t panic every time Dr M comments on Taib and S’wak

By Francis Paul Siah

COMMENT | Although I am no longer active in politics, I remain politically conscious by keeping abreast with political developments in and around the country, like many are.

I believe I am able to dissect and understand to a certain extent why political leaders say this or that at times. No, I’m not always right but I believe I’m not way off either on certain issues.

Being a journalist for a good part of my working life helps. I’m sure my colleagues in the news world agree. At times, I think we can sense what’s going to come out from a politician’s mouth even before they say it. It’s as if we can “smell” a politician’s “fart” from afar. Yeah, think flatulence if you like.

For us in Sarawak, the major discussion this past week has been about Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s statement that “the government is unable to act against former Sarawak chief minister and current governor Abdul Taib Mahmud until formal reports are lodged against him for alleged power abuse and corrupt practices”.

This was the second time Mahathir commented on the subject since his return to Putrajaya after the 14th general election. He made the remark in a Jakarta forum in response to a question from the floor. It was posed by a Sarawakian, so I’ve been told. Continue reading

Posted in MoCS (Sarawak)

Sarawak NGO leader hopeful MACC will reopen file on Taib

By Alyaa Alhadjri

A Sarawak NGO leader has expressed his hope that the MACC will reopen its files linked to investigations against former Sarawak chief minister and current governor Abdul Taib Mahmud.

When contacted, Movement for Change Sarawak leader Francis Paul Siah said that he had lodged an MACC report against Taib seven years ago, as well as several police reports in Kuching and Bukit Aman on the same matter.

“I am disappointed. But I remain hopeful that the MACC’s new chief Mohd Shukri Abdull will reopen investigations into the case,” he told Malaysiakini.

Siah was asked to comment on Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s reported remarks that no action can be taken against Taib for alleged corruption, as there has yet to be a formal complaint lodged against him.

Last month, Siah, had called on Shukri to reopen the file on Taib.

He also said he would be arranging a meeting with the chief commissioner in the near future to clarify matters surrounding his report against Taib.

“I doubt that Mahathir will not take action against anyone who is found to have abused his powers, including Taib,” he added.

Continue reading

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Hello YB, don’t sulk if you are not a minister

By Francis Paul Siah

COMMENT | Ask any politician why he or she is in politics and the first answer you will probably get is: “I want to be of service to the nation and people.”

Many in the know will likely sneer at this response for, in most cases in the Malaysian context, it’s nothing but a white lie.

Really, people partake in politics to serve others? Is there really any politician out there today who is truly that sincere and genuine and prepared to sacrifice everything for a political career to serve the people and nation? Can we be honest here?

If I heard that 60 years ago when I was only two years old, then I would probably have believed it.

Today, what have I learned about our Malaysian politicians? Well, let me tell you.

Shall we start at the top? Let’s begin with Umno.

Hey, a report just came in about former Wanita Umno leader Shahrizat Abdul Jalil advising her newly elected successor Noraini Ahmad (on left in photo) “to serve, serve and serve the people”. See what I mean?

Many will probably remember the famous words of former Umno stalwart Kadir Sheikh Fadzir in a viral video when talking about vote-buying during Umno elections “Beli, salah. Tak beli, kalah.” (Buy, wrong. Don’t buy, lose).

Of course, Umno elections are big – winners will be rewarded handsomely too. But, let’s be fair here. Isn’t the same being practised in other parties as well? Perhaps more down-scale, but it is not incorrect to say that corrupt practices occur in almost all parties.

Now, imagine that you have to spend a fortune to buy votes in order to be elected to a party post so that you can “serve the people and nation”.

Wow, politics then must be the most honourable profession in the world and politicians must be angels and saints. I wonder what Mahatma Gandhi or Mother Teresa must be thinking! Continue reading

Posted in MoCS (Sarawak)

Is the Sarawak MACC ‘fast asleep’?

By Francis Paul Siah

COMMENT | There is something about the MACC department in Sarawak which has me wondering. Does it exist and if so, whether its officers have been “fast asleep”?

Many Sarawakians, I included, have not heard of the MACC in the state scoring any minor or major hits against corrupt practices in a long while.

I don’t think many are able to recall when was the last time the Sarawak MACC had taken any graft-related action against anyone that is worth a mention at all.

Either Sarawak is corruption-free or the MACC officers are sleeping on their job. The MACC in Sarawak should know the answer.

If I am accused of being harshly critical of the anti-graft agency in my home state, so be it. It’s time for the Sarawak MACC to get down to some real serious work, if they have not been doing so.

Why? This is supposed to be a “New Malaysia” with the newly-elected government already embarking on a massive anti-corruption drive. The Sarawak MACC has a lot of work to do as it is still the old regime, whose leaders are known to be soiled in rampant power abuse and corruption, in power in the state.

I am actually very surprised myself that I do not even know who the Sarawak MACC director is, although I keep abreast with what’s going on daily. I also happen to lead a Sarawak NGO which is on an anti-corruption campaign in the state.

Either the Sarawak MACC chief is one who shuns the limelight or he has not done anything to get him into the news. Again, whoever he is, he should know the answer.

It is heartening to hear the newly-minted MACC chief commissioner Mohd Shukri Abdull (photo) telling civil servants to get rid of the ‘bodek’ culture in their departments and ministries. Such an advice is timely indeed.

I believe his message is also meant for all his MACC directors in the states, including Sarawak. All MACC bosses and officers serving in the states have no business to ‘bodek’ anyone outside, for doing so will put the MACC’s independence and their personal integrity and credibility on the line. Continue reading

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RM31b reserves: What Masing actually said

By Francis Paul Siah

Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Dr James Jemut Masing has been demonised by many after a local Sarawak daily quoted him as saying that the state government should use up its RM31 billion reserves before the next state election, due in 2021.

But did he actually say that?

“Of course not. Do you think Masing is an idiot? Because only an idiot will make such a ludicrous statement”, Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) secretary-general Joseph Salang told Malaysiakini today. Masing is PRS president.

He explained that at the party’s thanksgiving dinner held in Kuching last Sunday evening, Masing was speaking in Iban and English and “it was clear to those of us who understand both languages what he actually meant”.

“Our party president said that the state’s reserves should be used to carry out infrastructure works for the benefit of the people, particularly those in rural areas”, Salang said. Continue reading

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Abang Jo & Co using GPS to save their own skin?

By Francis Paul Siah

COMMENT | As expected, the four BN component parties in Sarawak had left a sinking ship. Why? Let me be blunt – it was to save their own skin.

BN is not saleable anymore, as some state leaders had declared after the May 9 elections. These same leaders were the ones echoing their then-big boss, Najib Abdul Razak, just a week before the polls, trumpeting that BN was the only choice for the people.

A month later, they decided to dissolve the party which was supposed to be the only choice for Sarawakians. Unbelievable, but true.

Well, what else is surprising about politics, or politicians? Those who have it so good and for so long in politics will find it difficult to get out of it. And while they are in it, they will want to be in power. Being in the opposition is something they cannot possibly handle.

I would liken the statement by Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg yesterday on why the four-party coalition is leaving the BN as a mere soundbite, pleasing only to the ears of party leaders and that of their members and supporters. Certainly not to the majority of Sarawakians.

One must have good reasons to turn into traitors. But understandably, it is difficult to explain a treacherous plan in a politically correct manner, no matter how hard one tries.

So in that sense, the declaration of the new coalition, Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), was far from convincing. In fact, it was a complete let-down.

‘Peace, harmony and comfort’?

In his statement, Abang Johari (centre, photo below) talked about facing the challenges in line with the changing aspirations, needs and demands of a cross-section of the Sarawak populace.

“Therefore, it is incumbent upon us Sarawakians to continue to nurture and protect our values, living in peace, harmony and comfort among one another.

“This aspect is indeed not only our pride, but also our joy in our lives as Sarawakians, hence the decision (to leave BN) was made in the interest of the people and the state above all else,” he said.

Allow me to respond to my chief minister on some of his points.
Continue reading

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