By Joseph Tawie
KUCHING: Deputy Foreign Minister Richard Riot is in a quandary over recent online disclosures that his son’s company was allegedly awarded contracts worth millions of ringgit to build roads in his Serian constituency in Sarawak but did nothing about it.
The allegations which have gone viral come on the heel of other disclosures involving senior Sarawak Barisan Nasional (BN) officials and Ministers in Chief Minister Taib Mahmud’s state administration.
It is now appears that this is how Taib has, over the years, “bought” the loyalty of his leaders at the expense of their respective communities.
Perhaps a stark example is the Chinese-majority Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) in which Riot is deputy president. In last April’s state election, the party lost almost all of its seats to opposition DAP. The majority of the party’s leaders including its president George Chan lost their seats.
Of the 19 seats contested, SUPP only retained six, four of which were won by its Dayak leaders. The thrust of the opposition’s campaign was simply that SUPP was Taib’s party and its leaders his stooges.
Revelations about Riot have now raised questions about the millions, if not billions, that other long-time elected representatives may have received.
Meanwhile, online disclosures that Riot received millions to build roads and improve infrastructure in his constituency but did nothing came as a shocking surprise to his constituents in Serian.
Serian DAP branch chairman, Edward Luak, urged Riot to “clear his name” and explain what happened to the funds.
“This is a very serious allegation which appeared in Sarawak Report last week, and the deputy minister has to clear his name if it is not true.
“I am sure the people, especially the voters in Riot’s Serian parliamentary constituency, want to know the truth or untruth of the allegation.
“He simply cannot brush aside such allegation,” Luak added.
Luak himself has been handling complaints from Serian constituents over the conditions of the roads.
Many of the roads in the constituency have been abandoned and although one particular stretch has seen two earth-breaking ceremonies attended by Riot himself, there was no continuity.
Luak said until today “nothing has been done about the road”.
Riot’s company, Akjaemura Jaya Sdn Bhd, which he controls through his son, was allegedly awarded a RM9.3 million road building project. But no roadwork has since taken place.
Time and again, the state government has promised the Serian constituents new roads but it has all remained just empty talk.
According to Sarawak Report, during last year’s state election road-building equipment were brought into the constituency and voters were told to vote BN to guarantee the start of the work – only for all the equipment to be taken away again immediately after the election.
Prior to releasing evidence of Riot’s alleged corrupt practice, Sarawak Report had also disclosed millions in contracts awarded to Parti Rakyat Sarawak president James Masing and lead ministers from Taib’s Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu (PBB) party.
The online news portal also revealed documentary evidence that Taib had bought over Baram MP Jacob Dungau Sagan’s loyalty and silence over the controversial dam.
According to the report, Sagan’s wife Winnie Jolly, his brother Peter Usang Sagan and his sister-in-law Roseline Andrew Gayu had received RM63.4 million worth of public contracts over the past five-and-a-half years.
It also noted that he had received timber concessions in the Baram region as a “reward” for his support