By Melissa Lee
Sulaiman, the fllamboyant younger son of Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud, was spotted in Sabah this week scuba diving with his teenage son at a resort. A Sarawakian who spotted him said he could recognized Taib’s “spoilt-brat” offspring, who appeared to be in high spirits and good health, and certainly not at death’s door as the rumors going around town have implied.
Indeed, it has been months now since the stories about the 43-year old Sulaiman first surfaced, that he was depressed and even bed-ridden with a lifestyle disease, a.k.a AIDS.
Sulaiman is still the MP for Kota Samarahan, but none of the constituents will say he is doing them justice. After winning the seat in 2008, he tried his hand at being deputy Tourism minister but friends say he got bored by the job, which to him was too hum-drum. And since the death of his mother, Laila Taib, whom he loved and who had succumbed to lung cancer in April 2009, he has been out of the political scene.
Taib tried to explain that the “boy” was still mourning his late mother. That set the tongues of Sarawakians wagging. Can a grown up man who enjoyed life in the fast lane still mourn for his mother six months later? And this despite being spotted with different women all round the world.
Although he had the decency to resign from his Cabinet post, he has been hardly seen in his constituency. And by not resigning his parliamentary seat, he has further riled the people, who want to know why should he draw his MP’s salary then? Of course, the money is just a sesame seed to Sulaiman, who as Taib’s son has wealth enough to last several lifetimes. But it is the principle that matters as a lot Samarahans are just struggling to make ends meet.
Samarahan to go to brother Bekir
Born into one of the richest families in the world, who would not want to be like Sulaiman, living life to the fullest, fast cars, booze, women, anything that money can buy. Why should he be bothered with the poor people in Samarahan, many of whom live in dilapidated houses? Do you think he longs to visit them, shake their hands, smile and beg for their votes? Why should he bother to sweat in hot sun going to ceramah or political lectures, giving speeches in English to the simple Malay folks under hot canopies while he can be doing really ‘cool’ things with his life given all the money at his disposal.
During one of his campaign trails way back in 2008, Sulaiman was left fuming under a canopy after a sound system broke down and the event delayed. His uncle, Mohamad Ali Mahmud, the Muara Tuang state assemblyman, went around with PBB members shaking hands, while Sulaiman just sat there dressed in his Sunday best and glowered.
He did not bother to go to the back of the tent to meet his supporters. He doesn’t have to, he knows he will win hands down anyway. He inherited Samarahan from his father and despite allegations of money being poured in, the constituency would never fall into the hands of Pakatan Rakyat – no matter how mismanaged it becomes. Even aspiring PBB candidate would not dare to even think of Samarahan as it ‘belongs’ to the Taibs.
At functions before his disappearance from the political scene, where his long-suffering wife, Anisa Hamidah Mahmud, George Chan’s daughter made a rare appearance, both would not be seen together. One would be at the side entertaining guests and the other at the opposite end. There is no longer any effort made to show that they are a couple.
Sulaiman’s elder brother, Mahmud is likely to ‘inherit’ Samarahan in the coming General Election to continue the Taib dynasty.
Showdown with Daddy
According to a friend, Sulaiman decided to vamoose from the Sarawak scene after a fiery showdown with his father during his mother’s illness. His father wanted an heir to take over the Chief Minister’s post. Of the four children that Taib has, Sulaiman is said to be the smartest but the most playful. He would never take things or life seriously. And so far, it has been sad that for someone who is intelligent, his whole life has been full of fast cars, booze and women.
After rejecting his father’s decision, it was alleged that the old man was so angry, he banished him from Sarawak. His work in Samarahan was taken over by his uncle Ali and one of Taib’s political secretaries, Idris Buang. Even at his father’s wedding to the beautiful 28-year-old Ragad Waleed in January this year, Sulaiman did not bother to give face to his father and refused to attend.
Young though he may still be, Sulaiman’s life has been full of controversies. His bad temper has landed him in trouble and he once beat up a TV personality in public in 2003. He has been on the Board of Directors of family conglomerate Cahaya Mata Sarawak Bhd for three years and was once Chairman of RHB Bank, but he was asked by the Central Bank to leave due to his lack of commitment. When he resigned as Deputy Minister of Tourism, his father was there to make excuses for him.
A friend once claimed that his father disinherited him after he refused to take on any politcial job. Even when a huge piece of land, 269 acres, was alienated to his family at only RM291,000 per acre (one acre cost between RM 1 to RM1.5 million), Sulaiman’s name was not in it. Instead, his elder brother, Mahmud Abu Bekir owned 52% while his two sisters – Jamilah and Hanifah – and wife Anisa and a crony, Chung, were given 12% each. The land was alienated to them at one-fifth of the market price.
Life in the super-fast lane
Anisa, the third of George Chan’s four daughters married Suliaman in the 1990s and bore him a son and three daughters. She was alleged to have been beaten up by Sulaiman when she nagged him about his infidelity. Things were so bad that she was said to have run back to her father’s house to recuperate.
After Sulaiman was disowned and banished to Canada by Daddy, Anisa was advised by Taib himself, not to go for divorce but to move to Canada instead. This story is well known in Sarawak. Either blood is thicker than water or staying with Mr Horror can be made bearable with wealth!
Anisa uprooted all her children from Sarawak and moved to start a new life in Canada. And like the movies and the books, she played the long-suffering wife as her husband continued to live life the way he wanted – in the super-fast lane.
It is only on the rare occasion – like this week’s scuba diving – that he plays the doting father. – Malaysia Chronicle