By Francis Paul Siah
OPINION I have to thank Facebook for their “See Your Memories” tag. Without the reminder, I would not have remembered an event I was involved in seven years ago, on March 4, 2011.
I would probably have forgotten about the Kuching event, but I have certainly not forgotten my former chief minister, Abdul Taib Mahmud, and the allegations of blatant and legendary abuse of power in his 33 years as Sarawak chief minister.
That day, I led a Movement for Change, Sarawak (MoCS) delegation to the MACC office in Kuching to submit a two-inch thick report to the anti-corruption agency.
The report compiled articles on Taib’s alleged wrongdoings, and we demanded that MACC discloses the progress of its investigations into more than 10 reports lodged against the then chief minister.
My press statement issued on that day read:
“On behalf of MoCS and as a citizen of Sarawak, I submit to the MACC today all the reports of the corrupt practices and blatant abuse of power allegedly committed by Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud.
“The said allegations and accusations have been widely reported in the media, notably in many news portals and blogs, both locally and overseas.
“Today, I am putting on record MoCS’s demand that MACC conducts an immediate investigation on the allegations against Taib.
“This demand is endorsed by four Pakatan Rakyat parties in Sarawak, namely DAP, PKR, Snap and PAS. Several NGO groups also concur with this formal demand. Their representatives are with me here today.
“We also demand that MACC updates the public on the status of the reports and complaints lodged by various parties in the past against the chief minister. We wish to know whether MACC had taken any action so far despite the overwhelming evidence put forth by Sarawak Report, Bruno Manser Fonds and a number of other whistleblowers.
“It must be noted that most of the allegations of corruption against the chief minister have documentary proof. MACC owes it to Sarawakians and Malaysians to reveal what it intends to do regarding these serious allegations of corruption and power abuse against Taib.”
It has been seven long years since, and I wish to ask MACC today what happened to the file it opened on Taib.
In a June 9, 2011, report in The Star, the then MACC chief commissioner Abu Kassim Mohamad (photo) confirmed that the commission was investigating Taib over allegations of timber corruption.
“As I said earlier, we are investigating Taib and whatever our action is, we cannot reveal at this moment,” Abu Kassim told reporters at the time.
He was responding to a question on whether the MACC was looking at carrying out a similar action as the Swiss Anti-Corruption Agency, which had frozen Taib’s assets over the allegations.
Now that Abu Kassim has retired, I wish to pose the same question to his successor, Dzulkifli Ahmad. Yes, sir, what happened to the Taib file?
Malaysians must surely be aware that of late, MACC graft-busters have been working overtime, dressing up many notable personalities, from Sabah to Penang, in orange and parading them in court.
This is well and good and we applaud its diligence in the war against corruption.
No, I wouldn’t ask Dzulkifli about his well-publicised Bali adventure, 1MDB, Tabung Haji or Felda. Just give us the update on Taib. It has been seven long years and we have not heard from MACC.
The Taib dynasty
Recent disturbing news reports on the Taib family compel me to bring up the matter again.
One, Taib’s eldest son, Abu Bekir Taib, has confirmed that he is actually a billionaire following his divorce trial, despite previous denials to the contrary.
Shouldn’t MACC be investigating how a known playboy, with little business acumen, became a billionaire?
At least the “playboy” tag can be explained. Abu Bekir (photo) testified in the Syariah High Court in 2015 that he married two women, an Australian and a Russian, without his former wife Shahnaz Abdul Majid’s consent.
Two, Sarawakians are getting extremely edgy with reports that Taib’s second son, Sulaiman, might make a political comeback in the coming 14th general election after having failed once in the political arena.
Not only that, there were talks that Taib is keen to push his youngest daughter, Hanifah, to contest on a BN/PBB ticket in GE14.
Is a perpetual Taib dynasty in the offing?
For the record, Taib’s eldest daughter, Jamilah is now ranked as one of the richest women in Canada.
Add in the recent “Melanau” status being accorded to Taib’s young Syrian-born wife and her two children, and Sarawakians have a lot to worry about.
In the meantime, Taib is now enjoying his political retirement as Sarawak governor. The family is living it up while the majority of Sarawakians are suffering.
I do not expect MACC to worry for Sarawak or Sarawakians. Just do your job and prove to us that the governor is not “untouchable.”
FRANCIS PAUL SIAH heads the Movement for Change, Sarawak (MoCS) and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.