Dr M, why not assign Anwar to ‘clean up’ Sarawak?

By Francis Paul Siah

COMMENT It has been said that nothing is permanent in politics. But in Pakatan Harapan, one thing is clear – Anwar Ibrahim will succeed Dr Mahathir Mohamad as prime minister.

Everyone in Harapan, and Malaysians who voted for the coalition, expect that one agreement to remain intact. Well, it is not wrong to state that has been cast in stone and accepted by all who matter in the new Harapan government.

Even Mahathir himself has reiterated that Anwar will be his successor. The only question is the timing. Mahathir had said that it could be earlier or later than two years.

So Anwar will wait. And he had said that he would. Even his ever loyal spouse, Dr Wan Azizah Ismail, had also declared that “Anwar is patient and can wait because if he wasn’t prepared to wait, he would not have gone to Sungai Buloh”.

Meantime, what is Anwar’s role? Oh, he has a lot on his plate, he says. Anwar has been diplomatic and respectful of Mahathir, saying that he will be assisting the new prime minister.

So far, Anwar has been visiting the sultans, and he has rightly explained why he had done so. Then, he also said that he would be giving lectures overseas.

As I see it, Anwar has no definite role in the Mahathir Administration. He is neither here nor there.

What he has done so far did not really go down well with those who did not appreciate Anwar’s own perceived role of ‘helping out’ Mahathir. Some of his detractors who claimed that “this is the typical Anwar I know” and even accused him of meddling in affairs he has no business in at the moment.

Because Anwar has no specific role, he is in a dilemma. Many do not doubt his sincerity in his recent efforts to defuse the purported tension between the king and the government over the appointment of the new attorney-general. But, is that really Anwar’s role? That is the question asked by some and it is not an invalid one.

Mahathir has many issues to resolve

Perhaps, Mahathir should consider giving Anwar a permanent role and Anwar should accept it. Mahathir is the prime minister and he is the boss for now.

What about appointing Anwar to look into Sarawak affairs for the moment? Or even East Malaysian affairs as a whole, including Sabah.

Many Sarawakians, myself included, are aware that Mahathir has little or no time to handle Sarawak at the moment. We understand the prime minister’s position. He has more than enough issues to resolve at federal level, including rehabilitating the country and dealing with its massive RM1 trillion debt.

Issues in Sarawak are many and we, Sarawakians, need federal help. Of primary concern to many of us is the rampant abuse of power and corrupt practices that are still going on. And nobody, and I repeat nobody, is really seriously doing anything about it. At least, not that I know of.

We need a serious and tough personality and one with clout to clean up the mess in Sarawak once and for all. To me, Anwar fits the bill perfectly.

This is not a task for a small man to handle and Anwar should be proud if Mahathir assigns him the “cleaning up” job in Sarawak. Anwar will have to deal with the untouchables in the state and if a man of his stature is unable to handle it, I’m not sure who else can. Continue reading

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Posted in MoCS (Sarawak)

MoCS hails anti-Taib demonstration in Miri

By Joseph Masilamany

A Sarawak-based NGO says it supports the anti-Taib demonstration against the state governor Abdul Taib Mahmud which was hosted by a group of political parties in Miri yesterday.

In a text message to Malaysiakini, the Movement for Change Sarawak (MoCS), said such a concerted effort by all quarters be they political parties, NGOs or individuals was long overdue.

Its leader, Francis Paul Siah, said MoCS which started its campaign against the present governor and former state chief minister for abuse of power and corruption in 2011, will continue with its action to bring Taib and his cohorts to justice.

“We will work closely with all groups in that ‘pursuit’ and there will be no let up. Taib is still very much in control in Sarawak and rampant abuses are still going on,” he claimed.

In the demonstration, a group comprising 150 Baram PKR, DAP and Amanah members held a peaceful protest in front of the MACC office at the federal complex in Miri yesterday. Continue reading

Posted in MoCS (Sarawak)

Let’s forget Dayakism and think Sarawakism!

By Francis Paul Siah

COMMENT | Former Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Daniel Tajem, considered one of Sarawak’s foremost Iban leaders, passed away on May 27.

Dayakism, the term coined by Tajem when he co-founded Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS) with Leo Moggie in 1983 as the political war cry for the Dayak community, was buried with the 82-year-old Tajem when he was interned three days later, on May 30.

“If Umno speaks for the Malays, MCA for the Chinese and MIC for the Indians, let PBDS speak for us Dayaks,” Tajem had famously declared at the birth of the party.

As a journalist with the Sarawak Tribune in 1983, I was among the press corps at Tajem’s residence, a humble government house on Rodway Road in Kuching that afternoon, when the formation of PBDS was officially announced.

That was the birth of Dayakism. Tajem was politically astute to coin “Dayakism” to rally support from the community. PBDS needed a racially-linked slogan to attract support from the Dayaks, rightly or wrongly and it worked initially.

Admittedly, I was not that politically mature 35 years ago to fully grasp it all. If the Dayaks really wanted a party they could call their own, they had every right to form one. Well, that was my simplistic, very ordinary but fair judgment, or so I thought.

But one thing was clear even then. A party established along racial lines surely wouldn’t last long. Not in Sarawak!

PBDS was born because Moggie (photo) was defeated by James Wong, a Chinese, for the presidency of the Sarawak National Party (SNAP) in 1981.

The vacancy of the SNAP presidency was caused by the abrupt resignation of Dunstan Endawie, also a deputy chief minister then, for reasons not publicly known till today. Endawie was immediately dispatched off to Wellington as Malaysia’s envoy to New Zealand. Continue reading

Posted in MoCS (Sarawak)

Abang Jo and co, are you all blind to Taib’s excesses?

By Francis Paul Siah

COMMENT | I have been informed that Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg was not too happy about my article, “Time to be a leader, Abang Jo”, published in Malaysiakini on May 27.

A BN state assemblyperson, who I consider a dear friend, contacted me to say that although he could agree with some of my views, he also felt that I was not being very respectful to the chief minister.

This was my response to him: “There is something which I must make very clear to you. I am not in the business of pleasing politicians, you my friend, and the chief minister included.

“When something is way wrong and out of hand, don’t be a coward. Speak up. The trouble with you, BN politicians and others too, is that all of you have personal interests to protect. There is nothing I want personally from you, the state BN or from Abang Jo. That is the difference between you and me.

“However, like many Sarawakians, I expect Abang Jo to be a leader and to stop being a follower. Most importantly, to stop taking instructions and carry out orders from the Astana.

“He is also my chief minister and I want him to succeed too for the sake of Sarawak and its people. So far, he has nothing tangible to show in his 16 months as chief minister, according to public feedback.

“Political leaders have to stop thinking that whenever people criticise them, it is always done with malice and contempt. They do not look at the sincerity and noble intention of the critiques. If Abang Jo falls into that category, then I’m sorry for him.

“Please go back and report to your boss what I’ve just said.”

More hard truths

Of course, I’m aware that my BN pal meant well in his attempt to advise me to lay off. But I have no reason to. In fact, I’m more determined than ever to tell the chief minister more hard truths, even if they hurt.

A few days before Nomination Day on April 28, a close family member of the chief minister contacted me, saying that he has something very important to tell me. We met in downtown Padungan in Kuching one late evening. Continue reading

Posted in MoCS (Sarawak)

Time to be a leader, Abang Jo

By Francis Paul Siah

COMMENT | I have good news and bad news for my chief minister, Abang Johari Abang Openg.

Let me start with the good news. I have no desire to spoil his day with a negative missive, in case he is reading this over breakfast.

I’ve said before that I think Abang Johari is a good and decent politician, and I still believe that is true. And my statement is not without basis or facts.

I’ve checked and cross-checked with the many stories in the whistleblower website Sarawak Report over the years about the abuse of power and sheer greed and corruption plaguing those in the corridors of power in my home state of Sarawak.

None implicate the chief minister. No finger was pointed at Abang Jo. His name was not listed in the many companies associated with dubious and dirty dealings in the state.

Well, the chief minister’s detractors might disagree, but I would conclude that Abang Jo is clean – not squeaky clean perhaps, but reasonably clean at least.

I say this because I’m unsure if there were other unhealthy or undesirable ‘activities’ he could have gotten into which he shouldn’t have since he became chief minister in January last year.

Another thing that stands out about Abang Jo’s personality is that he seems to be a family-oriented man. He is a faithful husband and not tainted with personal scandals. Think Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The bad news

Those are the positives of Abang Jo for the moment. Now for the bad news.

A few days ago, there was a random poll conducted by a Facebook group asking this question: “Do you think Abang Johari is doing a good job for Sarawakians?” Continue reading

Posted in MoCS (Sarawak)

MoCS urges MACC to re-open Taib file, raid governor’s homes

By JM Joseph

A Sarawak NGO has called on newly appointed MACC chief commissioner Mohd Shukri Abdul to reopen the file on Sarawak governor Abdul Taib Mahmud, and to raid the former chief minister’s home.

Movement for Change, Sarawak (MOCS) leader Francis Paul Siah in a statement to Malaysiakini today reminded the new MACC chief that a report was lodged against Taib in March 2011.

He said MOCS, which had lodged the report, wants the case reopened now if it has already been closed and forgotten.
According to Siah, after the report was lodged, then MACC chief Abu Kassim announced that Taib was under investigation.

“It has been more than seven years now, and there has been no update on the Taib file,” Siah said.

As MACC is now on a massive anti-corruption drive, the agency must also move fast against Taib, who is known to be still wielding immense power in Sarawak today, Siah added.

“It is a known fact that Taib is still giving instructions to Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg from the Astana.

“One recent example is the fielding of his youngest daughter, Hanifah Taib, as the BN candidate for Mukah during GE14 against the wishes of the Melanau community in the constituency.

“Taib gets whatever he wants in Sarawak, even up to this day.

“Make no mistake about it. He could even ‘transform’ his Syrian-born wife, Ragad Kurdi, into a Melanau, thus allowing her to apply and own millions of hectares of plantation land because of her new bumiputera status”, the MOCS leader claimed. Continue reading

Posted in MoCS (Sarawak)

Dr M, be as tough on Taib as you are on Najib

FRANCIS PAUL SIAH writes a letter to Tun Mahathir

COMMENT | With reference to the article, “Show evidence, says PM on graft in S’wak”, I wish to respond to the prime minister with this letter.

Dear Dr Mahathir Mohamad,

The euphoria is over. You must have received countless messages of congratulations. Another one from me makes no difference. So I’ll cut the small talk and get straight to the point.

Like many Sarawakians, I am deeply concerned about the evil deeds committed by exceptionally greedy and corrupt leaders in my beloved home state.

Let me repeat what I’ve said recently. The biggest thief in Malaysia is actually in Sarawak. In his 33 years in power, he had probably stolen more than Najib (Abdul Razak). I know you are not blind to the widely-reported excesses of this modern “White Rajah” of Sarawak over the years.

Surely you would know when, how and why it all started. In the past, you too have been defensive of those who had caused so much miseries and hardships to so many Sarawakians.

Tun, sorry to say this, but you were not very smart in years gone by to even support the rampant destruction of rainforests in Sarawak by logging companies associated with dishonest and unscrupulous BN leaders in the state.

And understandably so, because they were your allies and you needed them when you were in power. But that’s water under the bridge now. We wouldn’t want to delve on the past but move on.

Yesterday, you said those with evidence of corruption in Sarawak should adduce evidence and “if you can give evidence, I will ask the authorities to act”.

Let me relate these events to you of the action taken against Abdul Taib Mahmud by the Movement for Change, Sarawak (MoCS) seven years ago. Continue reading

Posted in MoCS (Sarawak)