Archive for the ‘Abdullah bin Haji Ahmad Badawi’ Category


By Datuk Seri Musa Aman

AS leader of this state, I am duty-bound to serve the people and ensure their needs are taken care of.

I accept the fact that there are limits to what I can achieve as the Chief Minister, but I try my best and accept criticisms where due.

But, when false allegations are hurled at the administration that I lead, I will not accept it without defending those who make sure my instructions are followed.

There are leaders who act, and those who pay lip service.

Recently, the opposition accused the Barisan Nasional-led government of clearing more than 100,000ha of forest reserves to be converted into oil palm plantations.

I have dealt with this by setting the record straight at the recently-concluded State Legislative Assembly sitting and reminded the opposition that their responsibility entails more than just criticising the government.

The government is open to suggestions that will bring progress to the state and benefits to the people, even if they come from the opposition.

But, I will not tolerate those who voice out baseless allegations to confuse the people or deliberately exploit issues for political mileage.

For those leaders who are sincere, I told them to come and see me if there are things they do not understand.

Preserving the forest is an important agenda for me.

One of the milestones in Sabah’s conservation effort was when the state resolved to protect the area that harbours the largest orangutanpopulation, as well as other wildlife in Sabah, in the Ulu Segama and Malua forest reserves.

After almost 60 years of continuous logging, this activity was phased out by the end of 2007.

While there were some sceptics, it sent a strong message on our seriousness about conservation.

To reiterate that we mean business, during an official visit by then prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to Deramakot Forest Reserve in June 2006, I announced that logging would be phased out in Ulu Segama, Malua and Kalumpang the following year.

The eventual halt to logging in the areas would translate to a forfeiture of at least RM1 billion in timber royalties to the state.

The move has led to 240,000ha being placed under Sustainable Forest Management for the conservation of orangutan and reforestation of an area that is also part of the broader Heart of Borneo due to its rich biodiversity.

Efforts have been put in place to recreate healthy and productive forests in these and other forest reserves, each with their own management plans.

In areas not fully protected, extraction of timber is done on a sustainable basis and high conservation value areas, such as watersheds, are protected for their many benefits.

Through Sustainable Forest Management, 53 per cent of Sabah, or 3.9 million hectares, of state land have been permanently set aside as Forest Reserves, Protection Areas and Wildlife Conservation Areas.

The state government has also decided to set aside 30 per cent of its total landmass, or 2.2 million hectares, as Totally Protected Areas, which we hope to achieve in the next few years.

The current 26 per cent has already exceeded the International Union for Conservation of Nature target of 10 per cent.

It must be noted that Sabah has restored and planted forests well over 600,000ha, presumably the largest such undertaking in the tropics.

On top of that, we also have the three natural gems in the form of the Maliau Basin, Danum Valley and Imbak Canyon conservation areas under the full protection of Yayasan Sabah.

The latest development to show our commitment is the scrapping of the proposed Sukau bridge across Kinabatangan river, after considering views about the environmental impact from various quarters, including non-governmental organisations and environmentalists.

The Sabah government has and will continue to promote the state as a hub for tropical rainforest research involving renowned international research organisations, such as the Royal Society of the United Kingdom, the Nature Conservancy of the United States of America, Sime Darby Foundation, Abraham Foundation, WWF-Malaysia IKEA, Petronas, as well as key local higher learning institutions.

We must grow and enrich our forests with a variety of timber species.

It will be most regrettable if we leave tracts of barren land to the future generation.

Musa Aman is the Chief Minister of Sabah, Malaysia.

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Before concluding that the Panama papers are the Holy Grail of global corruption, certain facts must be viewed in perspective – one that the journalists involved in the expose have been careful to articulate but readers may have overlook due to the seductive conclusions big names tend to offer.

The papers are essentially records maintained by a law firm in a tax haven showing how several individuals used its services to set up entities and investment vehicles. Independently, this may not be a crime in several jurisdictions as the journalists have pointed out. But if properly investigated, they may reveal how some of those named might have used the route to evade rather than avoid taxes.

Beyond the fact that the records of one law firm are now out in the open, their disclosure, a remarkable journalistic feat by any measure, must be obvious that neither the presence nor the role of overseas tax havens are exactly a secret. They exist, as they have for a long time, and are used as much for avoidance as they are for straightforward evasion. While the Malaysian government has not been quick to announce a probe, it must view these disclosures in the backdrop of its avowed and largely unfulfilled objective of rooting out black money, especially money salted away overseas. In this context, the response of the Bank Negara Governor has been disappointing.

The ways of Malaysia’s rich and famous are increasingly becoming public knowledge. Prominent Malaysians’s, including one of the prime minister’s sons, Mohd Nazifuddin Mohd Najib, former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir’s son Mirzan Mahathir, even Kamaluddin Abdullah son of another former Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, owning offshore companies in Panama is just the latest of the unraveling, and adding them to the likes of Vladimir Putin, David Cameron, Xi Jinping and Nawaz Sharif among others.

Insofar as Malaysia is concerned, the onus is on tax and enforcement authorities to probe the names and information that have come into the public domain and evaluate these against declarations and filings made by the named individuals before reaching definite conclusions. This exercise must be concluded with urgent despatch, as any delay would in the event of a default deprive the exchequer of revenue. Equally, if the transactions are kosher, a delay would prolong an infamy. The suspicion here is that because of the nebulous nature of tax laws and the frequent amendments made by governments, many of these transactions will fall in the large grey space that almost by design exists between the black and white of the legal framework. In jurisdictions outside Malaysia, especially those where public persons must maintain the highest standards of probity, the revelations are bound to cause upheavals, as indeed they already have in Iceland. They are unlikely though to cause more than momentary discomfort to political figures like Russian President Vladimir Putin or Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, individuals who have in the past brushed aside such charges with disdain.

Panama is a small sliver of a country in Central America joining North and South America. Its immediate geographical neighbors are Costa Rica in the north and Colombia in the south. It is the narrow isthmus that separates the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. A 77 kilometers long manmade canal capable of accommodating large ships joins the two oceans. The revenues from this were for long the nations biggest source of income since the canal opened in 1914.

Panama soon found that becoming a tax haven that assured investors of their privacy provided a more lucrative income. The proximity to the Americas, and the balmy Caribbean islands, and countries like Colombia with its huge cocaine production and export business, and Latin America’s many kleptomaniac tin pot dictators made Panama even more attractive. Till not long ago after the overthrow of Panama’s General Manuel Noriega the Canal Zone was under the protection of US troops and that too served as an incentive for Americans seeking an offshore tax haven.

Panama as a tax haven offers foreign individuals and businesses little or no tax liability in a fairly politically and economically stable environment. Tax havens also provide little or no financial information to foreign tax authorities. This in short is the reason Panama is so important to our moneyed people who have good reason to hide their real wealth.

This leaves us to ask: Why do the rich want to hide their wealth? Well, simply because they are not as wealthy as they appear to be. And if they honestly declared their true wealth they would not only be liable to pay more income tax but could also open many of them to various charges of corporate fraud and malfeasances that could earn them hefty prison terms. So the income they cannot declare gets hidden in a tax haven. The big bucks are made and salted away.

A good part of this money is round tripped back to Malaysia via nearby Singapore. Not surprisingly in 2015 the top FDI investing countries was Singapore. Singapore is the home of hundreds of corporate entities that act as a pass through for funds being held overseas for Malaysians or Malaysian entities. Singapore is little more than cutouts for monies held in other more distant tax havens like Panama, Cayman Islands, Bermuda and Lichtenstein. The smaller the country the more pliable the officials.

According to Global Financial Integrity, a Washington DC based think-tank; Malaysians were estimated to have illicitly sent out $73 billion in 2015. Where does this money go? Countries like Switzerland that offer banking secrecy usually do not pay any interest on such deposits. So money goes to corporations in tax havens from where they are invested in businesses world over. Ever wondered how many local successful businessmen managed to get so big overseas, so soon?

This is where the Panama’s of the world come in. There was a time when Panama in Malaysia was synonymous with a man’s wide-brimmed straw hat made from the leaves of the Toquilla tropical palm tree. That Panama is long forgotten. Today’s Panama is synonymous with offshore corporations and assured secrecy. The times have changed.


You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

I’m always reminded of Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman whenever I read this poem entitled “Still I’ll Rise” written by the black poetess, Maya Angelou. Although Angelou wrote this in the context of her protest against White racism, it is almost as if a large portion of this poem was written with Musa Aman in mind. In the recent decade, there has been continuous allegations and abuses hurled at him. No invective has been left unused while abusing him. The Pakatan Rakyat and its major and minor cohorts in the media have carefully indulged in a systematic campaign of Musa’s character assassination. Despite this, their efforts have gone in vain because he’s won election after election with a two-thirds majority. That’s not all. In the ensuing 2013 13th general elections, there’s every indication that he is likely to be the Barisan National Sabah’s Chief Ministerial candidate again.

If that happens and UMNO declares Musa Aman as their Chief Ministerial candidate, let no doubt remain that this poses the biggest danger to Pakatan Rakyat, SAPP and Star Sabah. And it is to prevent this exact situation that the fragmented Sabah opposition is working overtime. The Assembly Elections scheduled from anytime now till May 2013 will witness yet another victorious Musa Aman. It takes 31 seats to capture the 60-member Sabah State Assembly. However, if the Barisan National under Musa Aman manages to garner a tally 35, it will be portrayed as a defeat of Musa Aman. This is why the fragmented Sabah Opposition is willing to stoop down to any level to ensure that the Barisan National bags a figure under 35. The electronic media as usual, has become a willing handmaiden to aid the Pakatan Rakyat, SAPP and Sabah Star in its every nefarious move. However, this time around, many have already begun to shed light on these dirty tricks.

According to a Pakatan Rakyat strategist, PKR has identified two ways to accomplish this. The first is the one it implemented in Selangor and Sabah. In Selangor, the Pakatan Rakyat capitalized on the Umno’s infighting and its in-house traitors thereby wrecking the opposition Barisan National. In Sabah, it has already yoked up the disgruntled Umno elements in the form of Lajim Ukin and Ibrahim Menudin, and has pitted them against Musa Aman. The second way is vile way of direct, open character assassination. But why is the Pakatan Rakyat after Musa Aman with such zeal? What is it about him that’s giving it sleepless nights?

Today, the only state which stands between Anwar Ibrahim and the Prime Minister’s chair is Sabah. Obviously, What is stopping Anwar Ibrahim from becoming Prime Minister is Musa Aman. Anwar Ibrahim needs at least 20 Parliamentary seats out of the 25 Parliamentary seats from Sabah for his dream to become Prime Minister to become a reality. Musa Aman controls the bulk of the Parliamentary seats in Sabah. The argument that Musa Aman allows for corruption is shallow and the opposition front is very aware of this fact. Historically, corruption in Malaysia has always been connected to both government and opposition, who are both equally corrupted, a fact that the opposition front is well-acquainted with. However, they repeatedly uses the corruption card for obvious reasons. In the present day, using the same card to discredit Musa Aman has become over played, and if we allow such divisive politics to succeed, we can only shudder at the future of this nation.

The fact is that despite numerous attempts over the last 10 years, the opposition front has been unable to find even one flaw in Musa Aman. Why?
Well typically, every successful politician or leader or public figure has a team or at least one shrewd adviser who guides and advises the leader on various matters. Tun Mustaffa had a Syed Kecik, Pairin Kitingan had a Dr Jefrey Kitingan before he went under ISA, Dr Mahathir had Daim Zainuddin and Abdullah Badawi aka Pak Lah had son-in-law Khairy Jamaludin, and so on. In present day politics, this applies to a Lim Guan Eng who had Daddy Lim Kit Siang and Uncle Karpal Singh, Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim who had Anwar Ibrahim, Taib Mahmud who had a Bomoh, Anwar Ibrahim who had Azmin Ali, Najib Tun Razak had Rosmah Mansor. None of these leaders took any decision without first consulting their advisers and every decision once taken, has the imprint of their adviser in some form or the other.

If this is the case—an age-old precedent—who is this one person who advises and guides Musa Aman?

There’s no answer to this question because Musa Aman is his own King and wise counsel. Historically, the opposition front is known to “book” such advisers and exploit the weakness of the adversary through this key person. However, despite painstaking efforts spanning a decade, the opposition front encountered a solid wall in the case of Musa Aman because—apart from having no adviser, he is clean. Of late, the opposition front has explored the avenue of trying to tarnish him through his family and distance relatives—for example, a distance relative Manuel Amalilo aka Mohammad Suffian Syed who scammed 15,000 Filipinos of 12 billion pesos (RM895 million) in a ponzi scheme in Philippines is purportedly engineered by Musa Aman. However, even this turned out to be a dead end. The handlers and the dirty tricks department of the opposition front apparently found out that Musa Aman isn’t in politics for selfish ends, and was forced to accept the fact that Musa Aman’s interest lay in Sabah’s interest. It’s left to our imagination as to the future of Sabah if a man like this becomes Chief Minister again for the 4th term.

This is the reason Musa Aman has captured the imagination of the Sabah masses.

He comes across as an introvert. It’s hard to predict when he speaks or when he doesn’t. By himself, he’s a great strategist. In the 2008 Sabah assembly polls, he steered the Barisan National to more than two-thirds majority winning 59 of the 60 seats contested, without calling in any central leader from the party to the campaign trail. This is because of the confidence that comes from demonstrating performance and delivering clean governance. Thus, it’s clear that he’s the only leader in Malaysia who can mount an effective opposition to Anwar Ibrahim becoming Prime Minister. One of the easiest slurs to assassinate the character of a person is to brand him corrupt and a womanizer. So the Chinaman Micheal Chia’s story will be recycled over and over again stooping to a new low. And that’s not all—according to Pakatan strategist, the Pakatan Rakyat is pulling no stops. It has created an entire “stop-Musa” machinery by roping in all sorts of activists, media persons, and disgruntled UMNO Sabah elements. Yet, as Maya Angelou says:

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise. You may shoot me with your words,

You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Let Musa Aman rise, vanquish his opponents and lead Sabah towards progress and prosperity.


As the hours zero in on the closing of the Sulu standoff and a possibility of some intense immigrant backlash in Lahad Datu and her neighbouring coastal towns, one may wonder what is next for Sabah. Although speculations have indicated that the prolong stand off is due to meek and uncharismatic leadership by the top guns of BN, one could also say that they have been making calculated and planned moves to ensure success and simultaneously lessening the anti- BN war cry among neigh sayers. After all, an early move could result in multiple riots among Suluk immigrants throughout Sabah. As predicted, Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman, has had his share of publicity amidst the standoff as well. The Suluk Filipinos are after his head as they eye the Chief Minister’s post in a renewed bid and Musa, affectionately known as Moses among his fellow Dusuns, has Foreign Minister and brother, Anifah Aman along for the ride, this time around.

Their major critics, Suluk Filipinos and the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), allege that Anifah is Musa’s “real nominee”, who is involved in all sorts of shady dealings involving timber and even the recent arrest of Manuel Amalilo aka Mohammad Suffian Syed who scammed 15,000 Filipinos of 12 billion pesos (RM895 million) in a ponzi scheme in Philippines is purportedly engineered by the Aman brothers which is so ridiculous. Those who know Anifah will swear that the Kimanis MP is one shrewd operator too. He’s strictly scrupulous about the way he arranges his public and private life. Having made his money and tons of it before he went into politics, Anifah has since then stayed out of business and professional dealings which would cast aspersions on his character and his integrity in public service. So, the critics would appear to be barking up the wrong tree on Anifah. I mean, why would you kick a dog just because you hate its owner?

Many want to see Anifah destroyed along with Musa to minimize any possibility that the younger brother taking up the challenge of being the Chief Minister if ever the opportunity presents itself. Anifah is getting closer by the day to the Chief Minister’s post as he has since chalked up an enviable record as Foreign Minister. Aside from Anifah, Pairin is the only other leader who will get Musa’s support as his successor. But Pairin has been Chief Minister from 1985 to 1994, and is unlikely to accept his old post even if offered. He is also extremely pleased with Musa’s performance as Chief Minister since he took over the reins of the state government. He works quietly without getting into needless politicking, or like PKR, promising the sun, the moon and the stars in between.

It’s not surprising that PKR has no qualms about walking on the wild side of politics in Sabah. It’s an open secret in the state that Opposition Leader and de facto PKR chief Anwar Ibrahim was among the chief architects responsible for placing illegal immigrants, mainly drawn from Suluk Filipinos, on the electoral rolls. He was then in the BN Government as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister. Anwar’s shady past in Sabah has caught up with him in the present to haunt his future. That’s why the call is getting louder in Sabah for Anwar to be called in as witness to the ongoing RCI on illegal immigrants in the state. Besides, PKR has even pledged, in an act of political suicide, that illegal immigrants in Sabah would all be given permanent residency (PR) status should the opposition alliance seize the reins of power in the state.

Between the Suluk Filipinos and Anwar’s PKR, they are not too happy that Musa convinced Najib Tun Razak and mobilised UMNO Sabah to pledge support for the RCI. More alarm bells have gone off when Anifah lashed out publicly not so long ago against attempts by the a special unit at the National Registration Department (NRD) in Putrajaya to issue birth certificates and MyKads to 40,000 people in Semporna alone without going through the local Mobile Court system. Anifah doubted that there could be that many people in one district alone without personal Malaysian documents. But the truth is, Semporna is undoubtedly infested with illegal immigrants, especially Suluk from the nearby Sulu Archipelago in the Philippines.

Anifah’s outburst on Semporna, coming on top of his brother’s public support for the RCI, was the last straw for the Suluk Filipinos. They, led by the Godfather, decided that the Aman brothers would have to go sooner rather than later. Their “secret weapon” is to recycle the old Chinaman’s story, of Michael Chia Thien Foh being nabbed with some Singapore $16 million at one time at Hong Kong Airport, and allegedly close to Musa. But the truth to the matter is, Micheal Chia is a bosom buddy to Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, minister in the Prime Minister Department. So close is Chia that he had even given Nazri’s son a Hummer SUV, as a gift of sorts.

The story, as it now transpires, is that Chia was never caught in the Hong Kong Airport with bag load of foreign currency. Chia’s hotel room in Hong Kong was raided by the Hong Kong authorities, acting on a tip-off which came from an estranged business partner of Chia, now at loggerheads. In that hotel raid, the Hong Kong authorities found in Chia’s room Singapore $ 16 million. So, this whole story about Micheal Chia getting caught in Hong Kong Airport is a whole lot of rubbish. It never happened in the Hong Kong Airport but indeed took place in the hotel room in Hong Kong where Chia was staying.

The Hong Kong case, if any, has been closed but PKR and Musa’s Suluk Filipino political enemies do not want to cease and desist. They are doggedly flogging the Hong Kong in various recycle versions and liberally dishing them around among the alternative media with known links to PKR and Anwar. A new spin from both PKR and the Suluk Filipinos, is that Attorney-General Gani Patail is related to Musa through his wife. Hence, as the spin continues, his reluctance to prosecute the Sabah Chief Minister and his brother “despite the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) having concluded its investigations”.

The fact of the matter is that it’s not the AG who immediately decides on the prosecution of Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders suspected of being involved in corruption. The MACC files on such leaders have to be sent to the Prime Minister who in turn will have to return them to the Commission before they are sent to the AG for further action, if any. In Musa and Anifah’s case, even if there’s an MACC file on both of them, it’s unlikely that it has been sent to Prime Minister Mohd Najib Abdul Razak. Indeed, even if such a file exists and it has been sent to the Prime Minister, it’s highly unlikely that he would be so foolish as to send it back to the MACC for onward transmission to the AG.

This is the system first initiated by former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. The MACC files on Eric Chia of Perwaja Steel and Kasitah Gaddam were under lock and key in Mahathir’s office for years. It was his successor, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi aka Pak Lah, who sent these files back to MACC. The rest is history. Even if there’s a circumstantial case against Musa and Anifah, current PM Najib is unlikely to rock his Fixed Deposit state of Sabah just because some Suluk Filipino got too big for his boots and wants to be Chief Minister. For one, no Suluk Filipino will ever become Chief Minister of Sabah.

The Dusuns in particular — including the Kadazan and Murut – would not allow it. That would be the worst imaginable political scenario for them as it would open the floodgates to further influx of illegal immigrants from the Philippines in particular. Mindful that the Dusuns and Muruts through Joseph Pairin Kitingan and the Parti Bersatu Sabah are solidly behind Musa, the Suluk Filipinos recently tried to sponsor KDM Malaysia as an NGO to further split the non-Muslim Natives as a political force to reckon with in the state. Their efforts came to nothing and the NGO is currently on the verge of being deregistered by the Registrar of Societies (ROS).

For another, the Suluk Sabahans and other local Muslims – Dusun, Bajau, Barunai, Irranun, among others – are dead set against a Suluk Filipino taking the reins of the state government. The stand was made clear by the Suluk Sabahans who have re-grouped under the old United Sabah National Organisation (Usno) in a protest against the disproportionate political role being played in Umno by the Suluk Muslims. The Suluk Filipinos running amok in Sabah, like other illegal immigrants, should thank their lucky stars that they have not so far been detained and deported to the Philippines and banned forever from entering the state. If they think that they can cover up their tracks and buy political protection by seizing the Chief Minister’s post, they are sadly mistaken. Already, local Muslims feel increasingly marginalized and disenfranchised by the continuing influx of the illegal immigrants who go on to enter the electoral rolls and monopolize opportunities which would have otherwise gone to them.

The Lahad Datu armed intrusion and the Malaysian armed forces’ operations against the Filipino Suluk intruders claiming Sabah belongs to Philippines is a real eye opener. We have lost 8 of our security personals so far in this skirmish since the events began unfolding in Lahad Datu. For decades, we have allowed the influx of illegal immigrants and granted citizenships to Filipino immigrants under Project IC. The security threats posed by the large presence of illegals in Sabah has been highlighted by Sabahans for decades but this has fallen on deaf ears in Putrajaya. News of Azzimuddie Kiram’s brother who resides in Sabah, being placed on the police’s wanted list shows the complexities of the situation. Many of the Suluks and Moros, numbering 500,000 in Sabah, are ardent followers of the Sulu sultanate. Will they still support BN?

Although still too early to say who Sabah will decide to be their next leader, how they will go about it and the reasons behind it is no mystery. It has to be a “Sabah for Sabahan” stand for now, and having outsiders, local or otherwise, just may not make the cut. The tic-tac-toe of Sabah’s next Man will eventually be dealt with in good time. And who knows, perhaps other media oulets like Reuters, Al-Jazeera and Bernama just may have their own take on the socio-political landscape of Sabah, allowing for newer and more different ideas and even evidences to be discussed and showcased.

But for now, ladies and gentlemen, back to the stand off.


Sabah’s turnaround in recent years has been one big feel-good story for the entire nation, which had virtually written off the state as a laggard in the post-liberalisation race for development. But the advent of Musa Aman as the chief minister started to bring about a gradual change in the people’s perception. For a change, Sabah began to hit the headlines with positive stories. From a remarkable fall in the crime graph to women empowerment ,and from deportation of hundreds of thousands of illegals sneaking in from the east-coast to drastic action against timber thieves, the state has started to shed its woeful image. Its growth rate also jumped to a phenomenal 7 per cent. Still, Sabah could not afford to count itself among the developed states of the nation, primarily because of the dearth of industries in the state. Industrialists remained wary, often due to the power scenario, giving Musa Aman’s rivals a reason to mock his claims on the development front.

Over time, the chief minister has worked to make the state significantly industry friendly, by inviting Petronas to seriously implement downstream industries and private companies to invest in thermal power projects across the state, despite Putrajaya’s prolonged reluctance to improve performance of Sabah Elecrticity Sdn Bhd (SESB), 80% owned and managed by Tenaga National Berhad (TNB) a Federal GLC. And obviously all that work seems to be paying off. Last Sunday, Musa Aman inaugurated a vehicle assembly plant in Kota Kinabalu Industrial Park (KKIP) in Sepanggar. KKIP now hosts over 200 factories in various stages of development and construction. They form one of the biggest clusters of small and medium enterprises (SME) in the country that are currently providing more than 6200 job opportunities to Sabahans. Musa Aman said that the new establishments set up by private investors were an answer to those who used to say that his government had not been able to set up even a factory of needles in the state.

The chief minister believes the state is capable of having a chain of industrial clusters, namely automotive, steel, halal food, wood, rubber, logistics and warehousing clusters. He is also confident that KKIP will be able to fulfill the RM1 billion investment target it set for this year apart from planning to have gas supply sourced from Sabah Oil and Gas Terminal in Kimanis to meet with gas demands in KKIP. To date, the state government has set up SEDIA (Sabah Economic Development and Investment Authority) a One-Stop Authority to drive Sabah Development Corridor (SDC), a project expected to take 18 years with a total investment of up to RM 105 billion. Begining in 2009, RM5.83 billion has been allocated each year for development, in which 900,000 jobs are expected to be created from this project along with a waterfront city, tourism sub project and a Sabah Railway terminal. The project kick-started with Pak Lah announcing that the government has allocated an extra RM 5 billion under the Ninth Malaysia Plan to improve infrastructure and lower the cost of doing business in the state.

Musa also has an Investment Advisory Council comprising of industrialists, economists and management experts of national repute. He has also decided to post an investment commissioner in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur to lure private investors from the financial capital. Sabah had lost much of its industries like Sabah Methanol Plant, Sabah Hot-briquetted iron plant (HBI), Sabah Steel Mill, Sabah Flour and Feed Mill, Sabah Shipyard, Asean Supply Base and many more which were all in Labuan after the creation of the Federal Territory of Labuan. Sabah lost all the big industries when Labuan was taken away from Sabah. Sabah now desperately needs to set up big industries here. The government must continue to create a conducive atmosphere to encourage more investment, if it really wants to sustain growth. Sabah cannot hope to match the developed states unless it is able to attract big industrialists. All the efforts of the chief minister to make Sabah a prosperous state will come to a naught if bigtime investors remain reluctant to spend here.



No Prime Minister in Malaysia’s history has ever expressed helplessness in facing challenges that have come up during his tenure. No Prime Minister has ever sought refuge in compulsions in dealing with crucial national matters. No Prime Minister has admitted to the failings of his Cabinet colleagues while trying to absolve himself. No Prime Minister has ever tried to correct his image at the expense of his party or his coalition partners. The reason is simple: the buck stops at the Prime Minister’s office.

Over the weekend, rumors were rife that Najib had fallen ill with mild stroke. According to friends from Putrajaya, doctors have been on standby in Pekan where Najib is said to be recuperating. Najib and his wife Rosmah has been under tremendous pressure because of his corruption scandals expecially in connection to the Scorpene submarines and the Altantuya Shaariibuu C4 murder. To make matters worst his Deputy Muhyideen has ganged-up with former Premier Mahathir to oust him as UMNO President and Prime Minister before the 13th GE is held and this is an open secret.

What is his helplessness all about even if he considers it is due to Mahathir’s interference? If Najib is the Prime Minister today is because Najib took over as UMNO President and the country’s 6th Prime Minister after helping Mahathir and Muhyiddin to oust Abdullah Badawi who was blamed for the UMNO-BN’s weak performance in the 2008 elections. Had the Barisan National got a two-third majority in 2008, he would not have been the chosen one. But being Prime Minister is not a license for corruption or inefficiency. If anyone feels as strongly about the evils of interference by the “puppet master”, there is no compulsion of being associated with such politics or the offices it brings along with it.

When the Prime Minister shows he is helpless, is he not letting down the rakyat? Is he showing that he is helpless in serving the poor, who elected his government and have great expectations? The poor would have wanted prices to be in check, corruption within his ministers curbed and the influence of corporate giants contained.

Najib must realize that he is occupying a seat that was once occupied by a great visionary and statesman: Tun Abdul Razak his father, the man who faced many challenges in his life. But he never said he was helpless. The same office was held by humble but strong willed Tun Hussein Onn, acclaimed for his discipline and against all corruption. He was never helpless.

Neither was Tengku Abdul Rahman, a leader whose mass base was astounding and who came to power after getting independence. He was faced with confrontation with Sukarno’s Indonesia, he was faced with political crisis with Lee Kuan Yew and even within Umno he had to face people like Mahathir who was undermining him from inside,including racial riots and the separation of Singapore but did not yield to the pressure of the syndicate. He dug his heels and abolished privy purses. He was never helpless when he even fought the Singapore leaders with all chips down.

Even Abdulah Badawi never displayed helplessness. When his time was up, he just went but did not blame political situations, colleagues and circumstances. But perhaps all these leaders were from the political class and were not there after their tenures in other fields had ended. Perhaps they were made of sterner stuff. But they all realized and respected the fact that Prime Ministers can never show helplessness. If they were then what would happen to the country? If they lose relevance, they go.

Before going public with his limitations, Najib should have stated his piece before Malaysians, who elected Barisan National as its leader and subsequently the Yang Dipertuan Agong endorsed his elevation to the position of the Prime Minister. He must learn from his predecessors and dig in his heels to fight corruption and inefficiency. He must always remember that the buck stops at his doorstep.


Malaysian democracy has been overtaken by dynasty, and only relatives of senior politicians enter politics. True, doctors and engineers too encourage their children to take to their profession. But there is a difference. Children of doctors and engineers have to pass exams. They do not inherit their degrees from their parents.

Politicians’ wards have no such barrier to overcome. They land up from some American or British university and immediately become “somebody” of a political party built by hundreds of party workers. The second in command, who has expectations of becoming the next leader, is unceremoniously dumped. Needless to say, the sons and daughters win the election. Dynastic succession has become the biggest threat to Malaysian democracy.

Familiarity of the clan is a starting point in making many choices. One of the parameters we use in making choices is based on birth. While the poor and illiterate are easily swayed away, others are blinded by race and religion and other narrow considerations. Dynastic politics is a malady we have to learn to live with.

We find sons and daughters and even son-in-law following the path of their fathers or father-in-law, illustrious or otherwise, in all walks of life. Their success largely depends on their calibre and performance.

Najib Tun Razak is the son of the second prime minister, Tun Abdul Razak; Hishamuddin Hussein Onn is the son of third prime minister, Hussein Onn; Mukhriz Mahathir is the son of fourth prime minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad; Khairy Jamaluddin the UMNO Youth Chief is the son-in-law of fifth prime minister, Tun Abdullah Badawi; Penang chief minister and DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng is the son of DAP advisor Lim Kit Siang while Karpal Singh’s both sons, Gobind and Jagdeep Singh, are elected representatives; Nurrul Izzah is daughter of Anwar Ibrahim; PAS Youth deputy chairman Nik Abduh is the son of PAS spiritual advisor Tok Guru Nik Aziz Nik Mat and the list goes on.

The practice of dynasty politics exists in both the Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat.

Now Mahathir is trying hard to get his son Mukriz Mahathir to take over as deputy prime minister of Malaysia and then to become prime minister. To reach that goal, Mahathir wants his son Mukriz to first takeover as Menteri Besar of Kedah, Mahathir is selling this idea to Kedahans and that they have to first topple the Pakatan Rakayat government come GE13. So, let us give Mukhriz Mahathir a chance and pronounce a judgment after UMNO wins Kedah, if it ever wins.


It is not illegal to have friends. It is not illegal to help a friend either. Every culture encourages that. Help can be transactional, where both sides simultaneously do things for each other. It can also be one-sided, with only one party doing the other a favour. That isn’t illegal and is common amongst friends.

Why then has the country come up in arms against Sharizat Abd Jalil? Why does it give people a sick-in-the-gut feeling when hearing about the National Feedlot Corporation’s RM250 million fiasco? Why are so many people angry over her family company buying luxury apartments, hotel stakes and land, offered as sweet deal from a friend called Pak Lah?

The Pakatan Rakyat has done a gutsy and commendable job in bringing these findings to the forefront. Sharizat’s husband Mohd Salleh Ismail shady dealings were common gossip in banking circles. The media knew it well too. However, it is the PKR strategy director Rafizi Ramli and Ampang MP Zuraida Kamaruddin that crystallized the outrage, presented some documents and made it a topic of household discussion.

PKR strategy director Rafizi Ramli’s move, led to an investigation by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) on Wanita Umno chief Shahrizat Abdul Jalil however, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) cleared her as it found “there was no case against her”. Demanding an independent investigation into Sharizat, is a disappointment. Firstly, a fair and independent investigation is nearly impossible in Malaysia against the Sharizat’s family, especially when they are in power and connected to UMNO. Second, and more important, even if a fair investigation is conducted, there may not be much illegality in what Sharizat’s husband did (ignoring the charges of criminal breach of trust and violations of the Companies Act, as alleged in some news reports). After all, Sharizat’s husband made a friend in business consultant Shamsulbahrin Ismail, and Shamsulbahrin Ismail was suppose to pay police officers at the Commercial Crimes Division in Bukit Perdana to close the case and help Sharizat’s husband out. That’s all the paper trail may reveal, despite exhaustive investigations. In fact, when powerful people help each other, they are smart enough to keep the paper trail sacrosanct. Expensive lawyers work hard to ensure the deals have a semblance of legality, whatever the intent.

In fact, proximity and access to UMNO are of huge value. If National Feedlot Corporation (NFCorp) seniors are seen hanging out with the Prime Minister then and his son-in-law, would not the Minister of Agriculture and the UMNO Menteri Besar of Negeri Sembilan view National Feedlot Corporation (NFCorp) many request, well, a little differently? Neither National Feedlot Corporation (NFCorp), nor the family, nor the Minister of Agriculture or the Negeri Sembilan government may ever sit down and spell out how each will help the other. They don’t need to, for they are friends. There’s nothing illegal about it, right?

In fact, this lack of, or hard to prove illegality is the cornerstone of the defence put forward by the UMNOs’ army of spokespersons and eager-beaver sycophants. ‘It’s a private matter’ or ‘prove give and take’ or ‘prove abuse of power’ are often the arguments given. It is hard to fault them completely, for the legal bases are probably well covered, or at least very difficult to prove otherwise.

And yet, what happened is ethically wrong. Politicians work for the benefit of common people, not for their family, not for their friends, business partners and relatives. At least that is the assumption people had about the Sharizat family. People also assumed that they believed in simplicity and were above personal greed, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. After all, what use is wearing simple baju kurung, implying simplicity, when your family members are accumulating hundreds of millions by exploiting political power?

There will be a huge price UMNO and Barisan Natinal will pay for this. Ethics may not matter in courts, but do matter in the hearts of people. A family that betrays trust will pay the price in the next election. It may even lose that trust forever.

However, the Sharizats are by no means alone in this. Nor is this just a UMNO issue. A large number of politicians have lost track of the idea that every profession in this world has ethics – it may not be illegal to break them but still is definitely wrong. A doctor must treat his patient as soon as possible, it is assumed, under ethical medical practice. But if he delays treatment, it would be hard to prove it illegal. A lecturer must try to teach his students well, though if he doesn’t, it won’t be illegal. Society needs ethics as much as laws to function well.

A politician should think a hundred times before forging business deals with people with whom there might be a future conflict of interest, and a million times before they accept any substantial favors. Favours usually oblige one to return them, and if that means hurting the interests of people that put you in that position, the effects can be devastating. Sharizat’s husband’s foolish greed, and the other family members’ tacit approval, has cost Sharizat her ministership. The cost will also be in terms of reputation and esteem. Wise people know these are priceless and far more valuable than anything quoted in ringgit.



Finally Deputy Federal Minister and United Malays National Organisation Supreme council member cum Beaufort divisional chief Lajim Hj Ukim is saying bye bye to UMNO/Barisan national. In not so many words but in front of a crowd of about 500 people at Kampung Bukit Kallam on July 18 Lajim has openly stated that he intends to join the opposition Pakatan Rakyat headed by Anwar Ibrahim.

“I will sacrifice my RM20,000 monthly pay and perks as a minister for my struggle to uphold Sabah’s rights and fight corruption and cronyism,” he said. He also said that he is expected to be sacked from UMNO and that he did not expect to be re-nominated by BN-Umno to defend his seat in this coming 13th General Election which must be held before April 2013.

Lajim was speaking in the house of former Kuala Penyu independent candidate John Ghani the former strongman from USNO, now PKR.

So, its no more rumour, this is final. Lajim wants out from UMNO and is hoping to be sacked so that he could get some sympathy votes and earn brownie points from his supporters.

By obtaining a sack, Sabah’s famous party hopper the Deputy Federal Minister of Housing and Local Government, is hoping to project himself as the sole champion of Sabahans who is oppressed by Putrajaya, as someone who is able to push and prod the Barisan National government at the Centre into working for the greater common good and struggle to uphold Sabah’s rights.

Lajim will do anything to enhance his political image, even if this means humiliating his senior colleagues in the party including Chief Minister Musa Aman, who heads UMNO and the BN in Sabah. Remember in 1987 he did the same, in-front of the press and dignitaries, in the Istana, he humiliated his boss Party President Pairin Kitingan during the swearing in ceremony because he was not appointed as Deputy Chief Minister. Instead Pairin appointed Baharum Titingan who lost his state seat as Deputy Chief Minister. Lajim was so frustrated then, he couldn’t control his emotions and was screaming profanity and vulgarity and used words like “menteri kalah menteri tewas”.

Then in 1994 he defected from the opposition Parti Bersatu Sabah which won the Sabah election. His action opened a floodgate of defections from PBS and saw the collapse of Pairin’s PBS government.

Now, Lajim has got an axe to grind with Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman. He thinks Musa Aman did not nominate him to defend the Beaufort Klias seat for BN in the last 2008 general election. This is not true because its Musa who actually pleaded to the BN chief the former premier Abdullah Ahmad Badawi that Lajim be included in the BN candidate list. In fact Lajim’s own division didn’t want him as a candidate in Klias then.

Musa Aman is obviously not taken aback by the developments; if Lajim had only indicated what his grouses were, Musa would have presumably found a way to oblige Lajim. Musa Aman is a very fair man and always accommodating. But what Lajim wanted was not just development funds for his Klias constituency or BN cutting off his MP development fund allocation as he says, but one he could first criticise and then re-mould into his very own dream i.e to become chief minister of Sabah.

Lajim is working hand in glove with Shafie Apdal to pull down Musa Aman. Shafie Apdal too dreams to become chief minister of Sabah. Shafie Apdal is even rumoured to have given Lajim Ukim RM150 million road project from his Rural Ministry.

The strategy is, if Lajim continues with his tantrums, Najib, sooner or later, might come to believe there is no future in Musa Aman continuing as chief minister. And given this fractious relationship, any political development could serve as the trigger for a major upheaval. The moment Lajim withdraws support from UMNO, others inside and outside the alliance will begin to exercise their leverage. So he thinks. Lajim and Shafie wants the prime minister to intervene in Sabah’s affairs but that’s the last thing Najib would want to do because Musa Aman is doing a great job as chief Minister of Sabah and his governance is par excellence. So, why should Najib rock the boat?

Anyway, “Little Bird” has told me that Lajim Ukim will join join Anwar Ibrahim’s opposition Parti Keadilan Rakyat once he officially leaves via a sack from UMNO which would happen pretty soon. It seems Anwar Ibrahim has agreed to make Lajim the No 1 man for PKR in Sabah. Anwar has even promised Lajim that if Pakatan wins the Sabah elections and if PKR gets the most number of seats Lajim would be chief minister, something Lajim has been dreaming since 1994.


by Joe Fernandez
Guest Columnist

COMMENT The latest talk along the political grapevine in Kota Kinabalu and the local media is that the Sabah People’s Front Party (SPF) might be more than willing to “accommodate” the so-called Sarawak Workers Party (SWP) on one condition: that the SWP fields and finances SPF candidates in Sabah under its (SWP’s) banner.

The alternative is that SPF, led by Deputy President Osman Enting, would apparently “go all out to destroy SWP”.

The prime-movers behind SWP aren’t taking the bait so far and are unlikely to do so since that would be tantamount to their admission of being complicit in an alleged illegality. It would have been quite a different matter if the story had not gone public. In that case, the prime-movers would have been more than willing to throw money at the problems to make them all go away.

Obviously, the purported “destruction threat” relates to SPF’s charge that no EGM was ever held by the party to approve the name change to SWP and the shifting of its headquarters, if any, to Kuching. Hence, the complaint goes, any minutes related to a purported EGM held by SPF on the matter were “falsified”.

The purported EGM was supposed to have been held at the Palace Hotel in Kota Kinabalu but in reality “only happened on paper”. The party constitution calls for any name change to be endorsed by two-thirds of its Supreme Council

The disclosure by Osman makes up the thrust of a police report lodged by him and 31 other senior party leaders in Kota Kinabalu on May 31 and a complaint filed at the Registrar of Societies (ROS) in Kota Kinabalu. Ironically, it was the ROS Sabah which obtained the name change documentation from Putrajaya and handed them over to SPF in response to an official request from the party.

The police report has been lodged with the Registrar of Societies in Putrajaya together with the minutes of a special party meeting convened on June 3 in Kota Kinabalu under Osman to suspend SPF president Berman Angkap and secretary-general Salun Dueasim. Osman heads the party’s disciplinary council.

The SPF’s reported “about-turn”, if true, is not just on. There are even reports that Osman has withdrawn the police report in order to “settle the matter internally”.

This is not a situation where “compromise” is possible between contending factions i.e. one led by Osman, another by the “suspended” president, and the third by SWP activists in Kuching.

Serious charges have been levied and the law must be allowed to take its course and those found indulging in wrong-doing must face the consequences of their action. The list of wrong-doers would include anyone in SPF who, on second thoughts, may be actively moving in the direction of the so-called compromise.

SPF’s name change to SWP is clearly non-existent in law although approved by the ROS on April 2 this year.

It’s a principle in law that if someone obtains official documentation and/or certification by falsification, deception, fraud and misrepresentation, then such documentation and/or certification is void and a nullity in law as if it never existed from the very beginning. The “approval” of the ROS does not exist in law.

For another, the ROS should not take lightly the rampant practice of “selling” and “buying” political parties. Indeed, such practices would not take place if the ROS had not been only too willing to be in cahoots with the Home Ministry to deny any application for registration of a political party deemed a threat to the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition. It’s unconstitutional.

SWP deputy president George Lagong, putting up a brave front, claims that the SPF’s registration certificate in the new name is “legitimate”. His group, led by “President” Larry Sng, “would not entertain any claims by SPF in Sabah”, according to George.

There’s genuine fear in those “earmarked for destruction” by SWP that the parties in conflict over the name change would be allowed by the ROS to paper over their differences, so to speak, in order to legalize an illegality. Clearly, this is not possible since the proverbial cat is out of the bag.

The overwhelmingly Iban Dayak-based Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS), for one, which has been targeted for demolition by the “still-born” SWP is crying foul and is determined to see that the law is upheld and the miscreants face the music. It’s understood that the party has written to the ROS in Putrajaya for clarification and followed this up with a meeting.

The party intends to keep tabs on the SPF/SWP situation and ensure that the latter is not resurrected from the dead. The party is even prepared to claim locus standi, based on newspaper reports issued by SWP against it, and seek a Judicial Review in Court to squash the decision by the ROS to approve SPF’s name change to SWP and its migration to Sarawak.
Lawyers for PRS are confident that the party will win hands down if push comes to shove.

The consensus among the legal community and others in the know is that the police in Kota Kinabalu should follow up the report lodged by Osman and send the investigation papers to the AG’s Chambers. It appears that Osman cannot withdraw the police report if the allegations are true, and if untrue, he faces possible criminal charges for making a false police report.

However, 31 other witnesses cannot possibly be wrong when they alleged that the so-called minutes of the purported EGM had been falsified.

Independent of the police probe, the ROS is duty-bound to seek further clarification in writing and in person from those who collected the name change certification and have it recalled and suspended. There may be grounds here for the ROS himself to lodge a police report against those who collected the name change certification.

Needless to say, those who collected the name change certification to SWP and those listed as office bearers in Sarawak would be “blacklisted” by the ROS, Special Branch and the Home Ministry from applying for the registration of any new political party.

Meanwhile, the ROS would be further duty-bound to write officially to SPF to show cause why it should not be deregistered.

It’s a certainty, in that case, that SPF would be deregistered.

SPF’s latest woes can be traced back to certain quarters reportedly linked to Sabah Umno veteran Lajim Ukin. The veteran, it appears, forked out several hundred thousand ringgit to set up a new headquarters for the party in Kota Kinabalu with a view to taking it over. The sums may include that paid out to certain SPF leaders who were alleged involved in the purported EGM and the related minutes.

Unfortunately for those eyeing SPF in Kota Kinabalu, the party subsequently went on “sale” in Kuching where the modus operandi for its transfer and re-birth were hatched in not too many details.

SPF claims to have a membership of 50,000 in 42 branches throughout Sabah.

Its avowed objective is to drive Umno out of Sabah.

SWP claims to be BN-friendly except for its declared aim of wiping out PRS.

Larry had not so long ago claimed to be PRS President, a dispute which involved the ROS, and brought the party to the brink of deregistration if not for a timely move by then Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to step in and support embattled President James Masing. PRS was quick to expel Larry and his faction from the party despite the best efforts of Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud to step in and save the young Chinese politician aspiring to lead the Dayak party.