Archive for the ‘Association for the Peoples of the Rainforest’ Category


On October of last year (2014), this blog hosted an article I wrote on how several public listed companies from Peninsular Malaysia have gained ”ownership” of Sabah’s Native Title lands through seemingly legal yet downright dishonestly via sublease (See here : Living off the Rape: The Lost Native Titled Lands to the Outlanders). After that very same post, the Director of Sabah Land & Survey Department Datuk Osman Jamal came out with a 14 page press statement -“Sub-lease Bukan Pindahmilik dan Rampasan Tanah Tidak Berlaku” (Sublease is not for Transfer and There is No issue of Land Grab) also found at http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2014/11/05/no-reports-on-sabah-land-scam-allegations/). I find it strange that Osman Jamal is somehow insinuating that dealing in NT Lands by non-natives, listed companies and foreigners are officially forbidden but is it suppressed?

This is not a case of bogus natives with questionable native certificates dealing in buying or selling NT lands. The dispute is also not about Natives selling to Natives but the constant abuse of Natives as “nominees” by non-natives, listed companies and foreigners in their pursuit to possess and “own” NT lands. It is indeed a cause for concern when the Sabah Law Association (SLA) appears to concur with the Director of Sabah Land & Survey Department on issues fronting the NT lands grab and the law through the Director’s 14 page press statement. What adds insult to injury here is at the time of writing, the SLA has yet to make a stand on the issue. This failure to issue a statement on the allegations of its member’s active role in drafting and attesting such agreements and on the contents of the press release from the Director of Sabah Land & Survey Department is nothing short of dumbfounding considering that the SLA has prided themselves for presumably being the protectors of justice for Sabahan without fear or favour, that they are always on their toes to bark against any such infringements especially against those involving Natives Rights.

In fact, the SLA’s silence on the issue is a clear defiance of the pillar’s of foundation it is founded on – they have to take all reasonable steps to educate the public on the reasons they have remained silent on the NT lands scam as reported in the Daily Express dated 18/10/2014. It is indeed cause for concern as the failure of the SLA shows how selective and biased they are in upholding justice and raises pertinent questions as to whether the association must now be reformed.

“Fraud” is defined as “criminal deception, devious ploy or trick” and therefore relates to any form of cheating. The main point before dealing with this issue is to emphasise that a problem which can generally be described as “assisting fraudulent activity” is not confined to being a party together with someone, abetting or advising someone on how to commit fraud but rather any illegal or improper activity. Professional accountability involves distinguishing how to balance the various duties owed by lawyers to the administration of justice, to the client, to the public and to the legal profession. Turning a blind eye to fraudulent activities often happens through ignorance or unsuccessful efforts to balance the various duties which a lawyer owes either because it is too difficult or it conflicts too much with “commercial realities”.

Sir L.W. Street, the former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New South Wales, in New South Wales v Harvey [1976] said of the *fiduciary nature of a solicitor’s duty to clients, “An appreciation of that duty depends not upon some technical construction but upon applying the ordinary concepts of fair dealing between honourable men.” Hence, the Director of Sabah Land & Survey Department and District Officers (as ACLR) should exercise their duties in ‘good faith’, and in the absence of ‘bad faith’. ‘Bad faith’ raises issues both of fact and of law and involves personal fault and improper motive. Acting in bad faith can include dishonesty, fraud or intentional bias, acting in the knowledge of a real or perceived conflict of interests, inappropriate discriminating or an abuse of power, knowingly acting beyond the scope or ambit of the power available to the department or official or other conduct with an improper motive or ulterior purpose.

‘Good faith’ requires and implies an actual belief that all is being regularly and properly done and may be present even where the official has acted in error or irrationally. However, significant errors, repeated lapses in logical processes or an absence of reasonable caution or diligence may show a lack of good faith depending on context. Acting in good faith means that a function is performed honesty, for the proper purpose, on relevant grounds and within power. Good faith requires ‘more than an absence of bad faith. It requires a careful approach to the exercise of power’. Public officials such as the Director of Sabah Land & Survey Department and DO are under an obligation to exercise their power and functions in the public interest and not for the benefit of particular persons or interests. If members of the public are not able to understand a decision-making process or its outcome, they may question both the decision and ultimately the decision-maker including the influence of inappropriate or extraneous considerations. Public officials should also perform all their duties to the best of their abilities otherwise it would be considered breach of duty. A breach of official or public duty is distinguishable from a breach of a duty of care under tort (negligence) law. It incorporates unlawful, unauthorised or partial conduct or an intentional failure to perform a mandatory duty.

As the Director of Sabah Land & Survey Department rightfully pointed out in s17.(1) – Except with the written permission of the Minister all dealings in land between non-natives on the one hand and natives on the other hand are hereby expressly forbidden and no such dealings shall be valid or shall be recognised in any court of law. He should have pointed out that in s 4 – The word “dealing” means any transaction of whatever nature by which land is affected under this Ordinance. The Director of Land and Survey had acknowledged that in the Sub-lease procedures involving NT lands, 3 elements must be strictly complied – (i) Memo of sub lease in Sch. XVI Form filed, (ii) the required fees payed and (iii) the sub-lease Agreements between the Native owner and the sublessor. One can only assume that the Land & Survey Department had read and verified these Sub-lease Agreements especially on the fees and the duration period of the sub-lease BEFORE registration. The fact that the Sub-lease Agreements contains clauses that contravene the law, ie an extension of a lease for another 60 years (2X automatic extension) AFTER the initial 30 year sub-lease without any further payments, had been duly registered. The Director of Land and Survey stated that his department had never received any formal reports from Native Title holders saying their lands had been taken illegally or without their consent. He later went on to say that “No one who had sold their land to a third party who then sub-leased it to a private company had ever gone to court and said they had been cheated or that the sub-lease was without their consent”.

These poor native NT land owners have absolutely no idea how extensive the acreage owned by them or its location as no admission or information on neither these titles, sublease fees payments nor their own tax returns has ever been disclosed to them. The suppression of documentation, creation of illegal documentation and consequent making of a false declaration is not the result of any innocent error but a vital element in the furtherance of a scam by these Non Natives, foreigners and listed Companies. Moreover, NO sole bread winner for mouths to feed will ever snitch on their employees. Many Non Natives, foreigners and listed Companies who buy into NT property in Sabah are using the “nominee system” for both plantations, housing development projects and in some cases land speculation investment. This is where the Non Natives, foreigners and listed Companies buyer puts the NT title into the name of a Sabahan Native BUT clenches and hold on to these NT Titles.

The nominee system is actually very similar to offshore banking structure used in tax haven islands or even in Switzerland. If one dreams of ownership in NT land this is one way to retain it. Many Non Natives, foreigners and listed Companies have bought and sold NT lands this way. The Director of Land and Survey had refuted that rich people would do it. The rich appreciates the philosophy that generally in all aspects of life, greater risk equals greater reward. Wealthy people have the least concern about the system. They are already accustomed to this type of arrangement. They even like the fact that they have an asset that is not in their name which no one could ever take from them or even know about. It should be noted that over the last 10 years, people who have been bold enough to do this in Sabah have made huge profits. Land Subleased to these Non Natives, foreigners and listed Companies act conveniently as their insurance. It grants them a leasehold title for the next 30 years. If they have a problem with their Native nominee there is nothing these Natives would be able to do during that period and this is what that will secure the NT title properties. Even in the worst case scenario, if one has a problem with the Native nominee, the property is still theirs to enjoy as the sublease is locked in for a 30 year term and they could even sell these NT lands as a subleased property to others. (Remember the numerous blank escrow documents signed)

The Director of Land and Survey declared that sub-lease allows NT lands to be developed and the installation of infrastructures by the private company, such as roads, electricity and water, will add value to the land itself while at the same time still keeping the ownership of the land with the Orang Asal. “Once the sub-lease period is over, the land automatically reverts back to the NT title holder, along with all the added values”. The Director of Land and Survey did not clarify what happens if these lands were charged to maintain all these “development improvements” in these NT lands or what happens in the event these poor, uneducated employee Natives dies before the expiration of the 30 year sublease? How would the next of kin or family member know of the extensive ownership of these NT lands when the PPHT Offices itself refuses to reveal and even discourages these Natives queries and forbid them from obtaining photostat copies of the these NT land titles?.

The Director of Sabah Lands and Surveys Department further gave lessons on “Malaysian Contract Law” and claims it is “permissible” in the Contracts Act despite the Courts in Sabah having declared such form of arrangements as in the case of Borhill, Neway and in the groundbreaking Federal Court case of Balantai, as it is an abuse of s17 of the Sabah Land Ordinance on “dealings” as it is an Express Statutory Prohibition and is Forbidden. “Stop NT Land Deals via Nominees”, a statement by Clarence Bongkos had also substantiated that too many occurrences of non-natives and others from outside Sabah, especially from Sarawak, making use of local natives as nominees to acquire native lands in Sabah. The modus operandi is using employees to acquire the NT lands and hold it in trust through side agreements until such time the land is converted to Commercial Lease (CL) or dispose of after planting oil palm for a higher prize.  That’s why we can see Chinese from Peninsular Malaysia owning NT lands in Nabawan and thousands of NT lands in Pensiangan been transferred to non-natives. These revelations among many others cannot be all fictitious tales.

The Director had issued on Nov 7, 2014, another statement that that Native lands have title over it unlike the Malay Reserve Land (MRL) so Sabah Natives luckier than P”sula Malays. He should have checked the facts on Malay Reserve Land in the Peninsula Malaysia as it have many provisions and additional statutes protection that have to be referred and strictly complied when forming even just the sub-leases. The relevant statutes are: (i) National Land Code (Act 56 of 1965): Section 221 – 228A, (ii) Land Enactments 1897, (iii) MAS Land Rules 1950 (Amended 1954), (iv) Malay Reserve Enactment 1913: Section 17. A further safeguard provision in law for (MRL) is found in Federal Constitution Article 89(3) that envisages if any Malay Reserve Land is acquired or revoked, the state authority shall replace it with another piece of state land. There are 3 conditions which need to be adhered to for Malay Reserve Land’s replacement: (i). It has to be similar in character; (ii) An area not exceeding the area revoked and (iii) The replacement should be exercised immediately. Do the NT lands have such protections and safeguards as the Malay Reserve Land?

In law, the Freedom of Contract doctrine is not absolute and that all contracts and agreements should be consistent with the provision of Malaysian Contract Act 1950 and other laws. Factors which revoke such consent are coercion (s15), undue influence (s16), fraud (s17), misrepresentation (s18), and certain categories of mistake (s21,22 & 23) are simply examples of defective consent or restriction and will which render the resulting agreements invalid despite the rule on Freedom of Contract. All agreements are contracts if they are made by the free consent of parties competent to contract for a lawful consideration and with a lawful object. But it is possible for valid agreements to be found unenforceable in the eyes of the law in this various conditions:

(i) Lack of Capacity – both (or all) parties to a contract have NO ability to understand exactly what it is they are agreeing to. If it appears that one side did not have this reasoning capacity, the contract may be held unenforceable against that person.

(ii) Duress or coercion – will invalidate a contract when someone was defenseless into making the agreement.

(iii) Undue Influence – If Person B (employer) imposed Person A (employee) to enter into an agreement by taking advantage of a special or particularly persuasive relationship, the resulting contract might be found unenforceable on grounds of undue influence.

(iv) Nondisclosure – is essentially misrepresentation through silence – when one party neglects to disclose an important fact about the deal. Courts look at various issues to decide whether a party had a duty to disclose the information.

(v) Unconscionably – means that a term in the contract or something essential in or about the agreement was so shockingly unfair that the contract simply cannot be allowed to stand as is. The indication here again is to ensure fairness, so a court will consider (i) whether one side has grossly unequal bargaining power, (ii) whether one side had difficulty understanding the terms of the agreement or (iii) whether the terms themselves were unfair.

(vi) Mistake – a contract is unenforceable not because of bad faith by one party but due to a mistake on the part of one party (called a “unilateral mistake”) or both parties (called a “mutual mistake”). In either case, the mistake must have been about something important related to the contract, and it must have had a substantial effect on the exchange or bargaining process. And yet, the Director of Land and Survey reiterates, it is allowed under the Malaysian Contracts Act 1950

The Director of Sabah Lands and Surveys Department mentioned that he has no control over “Nominees Being Appointed” as it is not defined by the Sabah Land Ordinance and have no power to regulate such Trust Deeds and yet on the same breath he declares that all agreements including the Charge Agreements, Appointment of Nominees, Trust Deed Agreements, signing of any Agreement in escrow and others (even the signing of an undated white piece of paper) which had been ruled in the landmark Federal Court’s case of Datuk Ong Kee Hui v Sinyium Anak Mutit [1983], that the arrangement of submitting an undated resignation letter to the Speaker was contrary to public policy and are illegal, unlawful and of no effect therefore void. It is more puzzling that undated agreements with unnamed purchasers given to non-natives, listed companies or foreigners (which are illegal, unlawful and of no effect therefore void) are deemed valid by his explanations.

However, there was never any mentioned of TRANSFER to non-natives, listed companies or foreigners but rather the existence of legal documents that include S&P, MOT in escrow and signing of undated white piece of papers. The wordings and Clauses in the Sublease agreements and Trust Deeds goes further to prove the existence of dealings in NT lands by these non-natives, listed companies and foreigners. This blog merely reiterated that Non-natives, listed companies and foreigners had indirectly gained “ownership” of Sabah’s NT Lands through seemingly legal but downright dishonest means and mentioned IJM Plantations Bhd specifically.

The Sabah Lands and Surveys Department supports the notion that the sublease of RM 1 to non-natives is valid sublease fee as the rule on Freedom of Contact. (He would have made more sense if it he had based it on the principle of laissez faire – (an economic system which rejects any form of barrier and restriction to the economic process) BUT that principle is not binding and it must strictly comply with all regulations when it comes to protecting property rights. By the same token, I suppose, Sabah Lands and Surveys Department would consider SELLING of NT lands for RM 1 as adequate price based on the freedom of contract doctrine. After all Sabah Lands and Surveys Department had concurred that RM 1 for sublease as adequate FEE, fair consideration and valid. Surely by that notion, BUYING AND SELLING of NT lands for RM 1 between Natives is also an acceptable price going by the rule on freedom of contract. Are we sending the right message on the real value of NT lands?

This RM 1 sublease fee should never be permitted as it is bad business not only for these Non Natives, foreigners and listed Companies similarly it jeopardises the sub lessee (the person who holds the sublease) to many potential risks as the Registered Native Owner may cancel or surrender the subleasing agreement by repaying or paying off the sub lessee the mere RM 1 sublease fee payment and reclaim their NT lands. After all if you live by sword, you die by sword would seem to be the order of the day. The Director of Sabah Lands and Surveys Department had stated that 4,621 NT titles are subleased for 30 years and that another 1,339 NT titles are subleased for 99 years. He further disclosed that about 89,400 acres of NT lands are sub-leased to 4 listed companies among others. He should have revealed how extensively are these NT lands subleased to these 4 listed companies for RM 1 and who these NT lands owners are? My question is WHY would poor and underprivileged Natives buy these lands at market price or below in some case and then sublease it for a mere RM 1 to these wealthy Non Natives, foreigners and listed Companies?

The proposal was along the line of land reforms that an additional section to be added to the present Sabah Land Ordinance was blasted by the Director of Lands and Survey and was rejected outright as it had (in his words) element of self-interest. He did not elaborate if the element of self-interest contravenes any laws especially the Sabah Land Ordinance and/or the Malaysian Contracts Act. Why it is not legally and morally right for these Natives as the registered NT land owners to look out for their own interest is beyond logic.

Rahim Ismail the Pantai Manis Assemblymen, during the Sabah State Budget 2015 debate at the State Assembly, proposed that drastic action that includes revoking the land titles of locals who are profiteering from the rental of their lands to foreigners. Wasn’t this 4 term assemblymen recommending somehow a similar prescription. After all we just cannot have a government with land policies to just rob Peter to pay Paul or an economic warfare strategy of taking land from the poor in order to buy allegiance from the wealthy as they would do much to create growth in Sabah’s economy.

The laws once in place would allow the State to take away in a heartbeat these lands, houses, factories, plantations, mills, businesses or whatever that is “Non-native” owned as it was obtained illegally in the first place through such mechanism. This mechanism would provide some successes in exposing large-scale NT lands deals even before these lead to resource grabbing, pushing for policy measures that would lead to official investigation of questionable NT land deals and getting back lands that were grabbed by unscrupulous non-natives, listed companies and foreigners. Any responsible and accountable authority would agree that by drafting this new section into the Land Ordinance would effectively and eventually curb “dealings” and illegal ownership of these NT lands by non-natives, listed companies and foreigners. After all, I truly believe that NT lands restitution is a major step towards restoration of the Sabah Natives dignity.

Director of Land and Survey further mentioned that agreements prepared by lawyers, agents or brokers are deemed valid and are not an offence of any law if these NT land owners had consented and had signed on it. This would be tantamount to the Director of Land & Survey encouraging or even sanctioning such process even though it clearly contravenes the law of Contract Acts in s 24 – The consideration or object of an agreement is lawful, unless – (a) it is forbidden by a law; (b) it is of such a nature that, if permitted, it would defeat any law;(c) it involves or implies injury to the person or property of another; (d) the court regards it as immoral, or opposed to public policy. He had also stated that “If there is indeed illegal transfer of rights, be it through sub-lease, the court may order the Lands and Surveys to cancel it and return the land to the NT title holder and he further opined that these poor natives should go to the Courts for remedy and should refrain from further making “confusing” statement in newspapers.

One has to fully understand the role of the press and the internet as the ‘fourth domain’ of a concept that act as a check and balance on the three pillars of government: the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. The newspapers just like blog sites have responsibilities to its readers. However, just like the operation of a newspaper, the responsible blog sites are of public trust and its overriding responsibility is to the society it serves. Like the newspapers, blog sites also have many roles: a watchdog against evil and wrongdoing, an advocate for good works and noble deeds and an opinion leader for its community.

In conclusion, the director warned that action can be taken against those who abuse the due process of law and cautioned about frivolous and vexatious suits. Surely, the Courts are in a better position than the Director of Land and Survey to evaluate and pronounce on such suits. Sometimes, public bodies consider themselves to be above the law. Judicial review not only reminds them that they are not but provides the tools by which ordinary citizens can force them to adhere to the laws to which everyone else is subject.

To avoid acting illegally, an administrative body or public authority must correctly understand the law regulating its power to act, make decisions and give effect to it. Judicial review is the doctrine under which legislative and executive actions are subject to review by the judiciary. A court with judicial review power may invalidate government laws and decisions that are incompatible with a higher authority, such as the terms of a written statute. Judicial review is one of the checks and balances in the separation of powers, the power of the judiciary to supervise the legislative and executive branches. It is hard to escape the conclusion that, Director of Land and Survey is trying to put himself above the law. Because whatever the Director of Land and Survey claims, judicial reviews are not politically partisan. They are about no more and no less than acting within the law.

The Honourable Chief Justice of Sabah & Sarawak, Tan Sri Richard Malanjum in his keynote address at a symposium on Sabah Native Rights: Issues, Challenges and the Way Forward on the 30th of Jan 2012 had highlighted that the authority is guided by the principle that “the government is in a * fiduciary position to protect the interest of the natives.” Sabah Land and Survey Department as the custodian of NT lands should fully comprehend its role and duties and must upheld and not act ultra vires (beyond powers) on the right to property as guaranteed by the constitution under Article 13(1) of the supreme law of the nation. Failing which NT lands grab would now be deemed legal through such mechanism and the Sabah Natives would have lost FOREVER in their quest on NT land reforms protections.

* Fiduciary position – imposing a duty to act mainly for the benefit of the powers conferred within the scope of law. (e.g. the safeguarding and protection accorded to NT lands by the Sabah Land Ordinance).

Meanwhile, upon speaking to Musa Aman about this matter in detail, he said, “I want to emphasize something else to you. Democracy wins out in the long run because it offers a chance to fix its own mistakes. It is the only system built on the premise that if something is not working, people can actually correct it, from the bottom up as what you are doing. Democracy works best when people are given the opportunity to constantly monitor and repair the kinks in the machinery. Self-correction is not destabilizing. It is stabilizing.”

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This is a story about how some public listed companies from Peninsular Malaysia have gained ” ownership” of Sabah’s Native Title lands through seemingly legal but downright dishonest means via sublease.

This modus operandi, which started around the 1990s, has been so successful that now the talk of the town is that even China nationals are getting hold of Native Title lands by setting up firms and hiring natives as employees, who hold these assets in trust. The whole idea is to circumvent the law and reap millions from the land after adding value to it by planting oil palm or other crops.

In most cases, the public listed companies do not show any of these landed assets in their annual reports, which are hidden under profits and nominees. The nominees are often workers with little education so they dont know they being used. Many of these lands were acquired after the PBS administration and yet declared under a 90-years lease in many of the public listed companies annual report declarations. One such public listed company is IJM Plantations Berhad. The Securities Commission of the Malaysian Stock Exchange should investigate IJM Plantations Berhad to ascertain whether any deceitful practices have been committed in this regard.

The end result is that many SABAH’s NATIVES will lose their lands as these will be consolidated with others and made to appear that these public listed companies have a large land bank with sub leases of up to 90 years as in the case of IJM Plantation Berhad.

So how did major corporations, companies, foreigners and NON-NATIVES gain control of NATIVE TITLED lands that has now allowed them to gain profits ONLY for themselves whereas poor and mostly, uneducated Natives end up gaining virtually NOTHING?

Let me explain.

There are provisions that generally recognise the Sabah Native Title land rights in the Federal Constitution, the Sabah State Constitution and the Sabah Land Ordinance. Yet native communities are still left out and have become embittered and disappointed because there is inadequate care and concern about respecting the spirit of these laws. And infringements of their rights are continuing. Even the SUHAKAM panel has itself described these land grabs as “injustice that is unrestrained”.

It is understandable why with major corporations like IJM Plantations Berhad, foreigners and Non-natives are dealing in native lands. Firstly, land held under Native Title is free of rent for the first 6 years and thereafter only a nominal rent of 0.50 sen per acre is payable. No premium is payable for Native Titled lands. These together with the perpetual nature of the title (999 years) and exemption of stamp duty on transfers, charges and subleases are the generous terms accorded only to Native Lands .

Hence many public listed companies, foreigners and non-natives have influenced, instructed and used poor natives as tools to orchestrate a devious scheme to circumvent the relevant statutory prohibition against dealings, owning, transferring and charging of the land between native and non-natives and to regularise what is an otherwise illegal transaction. The entire dealings are fraudulent in the way they circumvent the law and abuse the protection afforded to Sabahan Native rights and native titles.

IJM Plantations Berhad is of the notion that these natives, as Registered owner for hundreds of acres are not privy to a “shred of paperwork”. In one particular case, a native Sabahan was employed by IJM Plantations as a driver with a salary of RM2000 a month but in records with the Inland Revenue he earns RM5000 and pays taxes, which he only found out when he went to collect BR1M which he was not eligible for.

So, who declared to the Inland Revenue on his behalf and paid his taxes? He and many other natives are not able to benefit from any legal advice nor will they ever be able to find and to put their names to the ownership of these native lands as they are entrenched in some remote place in the interior. This is a simple case of an abusive employer/employee relationship.

The suppression of documentation, creation of illegal documentation and consequently making of a false declaration is not the result of any innocent error but a vital element in the furtherance of a scam which forms the basis of the contention between these poor Natives and these major corporations, companies and non-natives.

IJM Plantations Berhad entered into a sublease agreement with poor natives (as registered owner) and carried out business through the “Sublease Agreements” whereby the terms and conditions of these Sublease Agreements, inter alia are that:

1) 4(h) Lessee ( being IJM Plantations Berhad) shall be entitled at all times and from time to time to create any charge, mortgage, or any other encumbrance on the said Lands or sell or attempt to sell, rent, or otherwise dispose of the said Lands during the subsistence of this Lease or any or all extensions thereof and The Memorandum of Sub-Lease contains the Power of Sale, Sub-Lease and other Powers of these major corporations, companies and non natives which is equivalent to Owners Rights over the Native Titled lands.

These agreements which were in fact Power of Attorney and thus contravened S17(1) and S64 of the Sabah Land Ordinance should be void, illegal and of no effect. To entrench further its hold on these Native Titles, IJM Plantations Berhad also executed Trust Deed Agreements, specifying clearly who had financed the entire sale and “threatening” these poor natives to toe the line. Some of the terms and conditions of the said Trust Deed Agreement, inter alia, are that:

a) The Trustees have entered into a Sales and Purchase Agreement at the demand of the Beneficiary ie IJM Plantations Berhad, in respect of the said Native Titled Lands on the terms and conditions contained in the said Agreement.

b) The consideration due to the S & P was provided, supplied and financed by IJM Plantations Berhad. (This itself is an illegal act as companies money was used and financed for an illegal act acquiring these NT lands)

c) All rights and interest accruing thereon in trust for IJM Plantations Berhad

d) Assign and transfer the said lands to such person or persons at such time or times and in such manner or otherwise deal with the same as IJM Plantations Berhad shall direct or appoint.

e) Any such assignment, transfer or dealings or if so required to enable the interest of IJM Plantations Bhd to be protected.

In furtherance of such scams, IJM Plantations Berhad conveniently execute “white papers pre signed or pre thumbed” by those poor natives ( also known as MOT in escrow), so they may at any time transfer, sublease, sell or charge these lands without informing them . Native Titled land owners have absolutely no idea how extensive the acreage owned by them are as no disclosure nor information on the titles, sublease payments nor tax returns has ever been disclosed to them.

The modus operandi of these rampant acquisitions of Native Titled lands in the pretext of lease legally obtained by IJM plantations Berhad by using so called “proxies”or “nominees” to purchase the native lands gives the notion that Jabatan Tanah & Ukor Sabah concurs with such illegal arrangements and that such practices have not come under any form of scrutiny from the supposed guardian of the NT lands in many of the interior areas of Sabah. In some cases, the Jabatan Tanah & Ukor Sabah and its PPHT Offices throughout Sabah even deem this manner of arrangement legal and valid and proceed to register these sublease on the titles. This in spite of it being patently clear that they are in defiance of the Sabah Land Ordinance. RM 1 for transfers and subleases in some cases are simply baffling!

These public listed companies, foreigners, and non natives then amass millions of ringgit enterprise by representing ownership through their many illegal agreements while the registered Owners (natives), in line with such nominal ownership, remain poor.

The entire dealings are fraudulent and circumvent the law and abuse the protection afforded to Sabahan natives rights and native titles. The authorities lackadaisical attitude over the fundamental rights of the Natives over their lands can be seen in the fact that there are numerous land cases where the Natives initiatives to have their NT lands officially protected have failed.

Pursuant to the Sabah Land Ordinance, it is normally illegal for any major corporation, foreigner and non native to own Native Titles in Sabah. Based on numerous complaints to the Sabah Courts of Non Natives using Natives nominees to purchase Native lands on their behalf, the Sabah Government and Chief Minister Musa Aman should immediately consider a new law to crack down on the use of Native nominees to purchase Native Titles. Such a new law should provide for punishment for individuals (including lawyers, brokers and agents) offering advice to Non Natives on how to hold NT Titles property by concealing and disguising their transactions. The intended law should also allow the seizure of non-natives land found guilty of holding the Native Title property to transfer the land to another Native or to sell it within 30 days.

There should be a balance between protecting Native interest while still welcoming investment into Sabah.

The growing people’s protest are proof of the intolerable impact of land grabbing on local communities by major corporations, companies, foreigners and non natives.

Native communities are losing control of the land, along with their rights to be consulted and to pursue agrarian reform programs. We must remember that the indigenous people were here first and that means something – socially, economically and legally.

Sabah’s poor natives need help to reclaim what is rightfully theirs. Only the State Government under Chief Minister Musa Aman can do something for a problem that has been running for over two decades.


Newton’s third law of motion states that “every action has an equal and opposite reaction”. This is one law that has found many practical uses in science, but in politics, Taib Mahmud has mastered it like no one else has. Taib Mahmud has used this before and in the last GE13, we saw it being used once again.

Taib Mahmud’s interpretation of Newton’s 3rd law should be seen in the context of his political strategy. Incite the Sarawakians somehow, so that they vote for him en-masse. No where else in the country is the Sarawakian Bumiputra so united and committed behind the Barisan National Sarawak as he/she is in Sarawak. None of the “kedaerahan” politics that pervades much of Borneo states even seems to make a beginning in Sarawak. In fact, the Sarawakian voter has conferred Taib with the title of “Peh Moh”or White hair just like White Rajah Brooke – something that no other politician has managed to earn.

Trust me, this is not just paranoia. I have observed Taib for many years and I can say this with confidence that his every recent statement and action indicates the launch of one more edition of his proven mantra. Do something that unites the Sarawakian Native vote. But how? Here’s where Newton’s 3rd law comes in: Say something that targets the Malayans or Putrajaya; get media to hyper-react and come to their defense. Gain advantage with the state’s Sarawakians. In short: “Push out the Malayans. Pull in the Sarawakians”. Some would say “very smart”. So what if it is “divisive”. Politics in Sarawak never bothered about things like that!

Let’s look at what all Taib Mahmud has been busy with recently.

Taib’s various interviews with the media is interpreted by naive political observers as being an attempt at reaching out to the natives in Sarawak. This bunch of naive political observers thought this was Taib’s steps towards remaining as chief minister for Sarawak forever and to make sure UMNO never enters Sarawak. But Taib has already figured out that UMNO and Barisan National has become too weak in Malaya and depend too much on Sarawak to remain in power in Putrajaya. This is the time for re-asserting power in his home state by winning handsomely. His focus is only on Sarawak right now. He has enough trouble in his home state. The economy is slowing down (yes yes…..read unbiased articles to understand this fact) and he is getting panned for his state’s Human Development Index figures and corruption. If he now loses Sarawak, he loses all chances to remain as chief minister and UMNO will step foot in Sarawak and hence create another Sabah senario, every Sarawakian knows this. On the other hand, if he wins Sarawak again in the coming Sarawak state election which is expected within the next 2 years, he is without doubt going to be the foremost chief minister who kept the Malayan colonist out from Sarawak, notwithstanding what Taib Mahmud or others feel.

Let’s analyze what Taib told the press recently. Taib Mahmud charged that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) does not “deserve” his cooperation in potential graft investigations as they have not been upfront with him. Taib said he was not afraid of being investigated by MACC as long as he was being treated fairly. “Up to you. They want to victimise me, let them. As long as they are fair I am not scared”. “They don’t deserve my cooperation because they have been quite naughty.” The interview provided Taib the platform to announce that he wouldn’t apologize to the Putrajaya control MACC because he hadn’t done anything wrong. Sounds strange assuming he was trying to appease the Feds? Imagine this. Taib talking to the Feds in their language and telling them on their faces that he wasn’t going to cooperate? What were the Feds expected to do? Howl with anger and pass judgments that Taib was guilty! What is the media expected to do? Scream untouchable Taib. That’s what it did! And what about the opposition? Of course, they all showed how untouchable Taib was. This is exactly what Taib wanted! All this has panned out so beautifully for him. Why? Because what will Sarawakian do when they hear so much media, opposition and criticism of Taib? They will react like Newton said they would. They will ring fence Taib. They will swear to themselves and to each other that they will get their “protector” elected. Brilliant, Taib Mahmud!

Consider also the Malay-language Bible “Alkitab” row. Malaysiakini reported Taib as saying “It was I who talked to the prime minister. I said to him that it was a stupid idea to stamp serial numbers. I told him it should be stopped and he said ‘yes I agree and I’ll put a stop to it’. So he went and stopped the serial numbers. Now there’s no more of this nonsense.” Again, naive observers may have wondered why Taib wasn’t seizing the opportunity to curry favor with the Muslims. But no, Taib’s objective was the same. He was interested in making a statement to the Christian Bumiputras. Again….push the Malayan fanatics….maybe even become a hate figure amongst them…..and earn the votes of the Christian Bumiputras! Brilliant, no? The hearts of Taib’s Sarawak Christians would have swelled with pride. Now that’s our leader!

Taib is said to be fantastic with PR. I agree. He will use every bit of available opportunity to further gain from Newton’s law. The recent Lahad Datu Intrusion is and example where he said the setting up of Royal Commission of Inquiry to investigate Lahad Datu intrusion in Sabah is a good move to find out the truth about what happened to avoid the government from being accused of creating the conflict. Taib cannot publicly use this issue to whip up support for himself, but in secret ceramah’s in Sarawak, Taib must be telling the Sarwakians – see what happens if we surrender our rights to the Malayans, let me handle this, only I can stop Putrajaya from stealing our rights! Give me your vote and I will make sure Sarawak is safe from Putrajaya!

The real truth is that all fair’s in love and war and politics. And no one can grudge Taib his political strategy. But it would help to know what one is getting into. No one expects Taib not to rely on his Dayak vote bank. There is nothing wrong in that. But one must recognize the downside of such a strategy. For the country and for his own party. Taib may want to ask why UMNO is dying to step foot in Sarawak and why Putrajaya wants him to retire as chief minister….the answer to that may make him wiser. Wiser than merely knowing Newton’s laws….


Development without corruption is an ideal situation in Malaysian politics. Corruption and development is, at a stretch, somewhat acceptable. But corruption without development is completely unacceptable. Sadly, the Malaysian political scene has somehow have found ourselves in the second scenario and moving rapidly towards the last scenario. And it is within this such formula that incumbent Chief Minister, Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, the undisputed leader of Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) and Chairman of the ruling coalition in Sarawak’s victory in the recent 10th Sarawak state elections 2011, needs to be seen.

The issue whether or not Taib Mahmud is a clean politician was never the key. It was whether Taib Mahmud had delivered, and on that count he scored. Perhaps not in the most raring of percentages but but he was adequately high on a scale of one to ten. In the Malaysian context, irrespective of corruption, development scores. If a politician at the helm of affairs demonstrates his intent and will to deliver as well as takes positive steps in that direction, similar to that of the Taib Mahmud Sarawakian government, then the electorate reposes its faith in him. This more often than not overlooks the incumbency factor. Taib Mahmud was voted in as chief minister for eight terms: the last one going beyond anyone’s expectations. The grapevine has it that Taib himself was not sure of winning but the people voted him in on three counts; the first being that only he can keep UMNO from coming into Sarawak, the second being that he had done for Sarawak what no other Chief Minister had and third being that development was high on the agenda.

There were stories about several family members benefiting billions during his regime but those allegations waned in the face of the work he had done. A great deal still remains undone but his intention and will to work benefited the people who voted him in and this alone is enough reason for the electorate to back him and ensure his return to office which he held for eight terms. In the case of Dr Mahathir, the issue also worked in his favour was the perception that his heart beats for the Malays although he is half-Indian and that even while the party or his confidantes made money left, right and center, he had electoral support till of course he made the fatal mistake of sacking Anwar Ibrahim for corruption and sodomy charges.

In Malaysia, race, religion or corruption comes into play when development takes a backseat. In situations like this, non-performing politicians have a field day in exploiting race and religion blocks to their advantage and they often succeed. Koh Tsu Koon was able to rule Penang and later managed to name chairman Datuk Dr Teng Hock Nan as his successor primarily because he helped UMNO and had the support of the Feds in the center, get electoral power and in turn had a role in decision making. But what dented Koh Tsu Koon’s unassailable position were his non-performance and confining his tenure solely to UMNO politics. That worked initially but later Penangites wanted results of governance where of course he failed miserably. The consequence: a total rout from which recovery seems a near impossibility as the recent 2008 election-results have demonstrated.

This is in great contrast with Lim Guan Eng’s human development agenda in which the situation is crystal-clear. Koh Tsu Koon’s UMNO discrepant policies brought Lim Guan Eng center-stage: His initial victory had little to do with him and more with being the protégé of then Penang Chief Minister Lim Chong Eu and UMNO. Koh Tsu Koon’s Parti Gerakan who vouched for him throughout the years deserted him on the grounds that his UMNO sucking up politics were limited to his family and an inner circle comprising his relatives and maybe a handful of supporters. At the macro level Koh Tsu Koon had failed to deliver or do anything for the state, they argued. Worse still, he had put the clock back.

Lim Guan Eng reign checked these: corruption, accountability and transparency and followed this up with development. Not only did he bring back the dignity of Penangites but also stressed on the state’s CAT (competency, accountability and transparency) principles. It is after many years in Penang that the state is finally transparent in its governance. In the face of all this, whether Lim Guan Eng and his minions are corrupted or not were non issues when it comes to voting him and his boys back to power. This can be said about Taib Mahmud or Musa Aman for that matter. Upon a better look, the way Musa Aman went about getting The Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on illegal immigrants in Sabah to investigate the Mother of ALL Problems, “Project IC”, the alleged systematic granting of citizenship to foreigners, was a brilliant move in spite of so much objections and even sabotage by Shafie Apdal and some UMNO Sabah chaps. Despite the drama he still managed to get it thru and convince Premier Najib against all odds, that this is the true meaning of development!

I stand corrected on my theory that people accept corruption only if it rides piggyback on development and never the former without the latter. Lim Guan Eng substantiates the first and Koh Tsu Koon the second. And although the the third option of development without corruption is an ideal situation, it is sadly rarely found in Malaysian politics. Even honest politicians, Musa Aman, who was voted in on grounds of his honesty and integrity, rued the fact that political parties need money to survive.

So with the way things are, it is less about corruption and more about being found out. Or even getting caught. Hence, solo development or clean governance in Malaysian politics is an ideal situation. In lieu with this, I have to single out Former Prime Ministers Tengku Abdul Rahman and Tun Hussein Onn whose integrity is beyond doubt, despite the various scams their Government had been besmeared with. But ask the man on the street or even Tengku or Tun Hussein Onn’s former political rivals and they will charge them with inaction but not dishonesty. In this case the clean image scores over governance.


by Joe Fernandez
Guest Columnist

Leaders and members in the State Reform Party (Star), Sabah chapter, are heaving a sigh of relief after chairman Jeffrey Kitingan extended an olive branch to known “rebels” in the party despite being humbled for the first time by them at an emergency meeting this morning (Fri) in Kota Kinabalu.

Falling short of waving the proverbial white flag, Jeffrey for starters reportedly did an about-turn with about 20 party leaders including rebels. He claimed that he had never issued a gag order recently against them. It was stressed that the gag order was a “mistake” on the part of some of his more “over-zealous” aides.

The more vociferous among the leaders gathered begged to disagree on making a complete scapegoat of Jeffrey’s errant aides. However, it appears that they did not protest too much on the gag order “in the interest of party unity” after the party chairman announced that two members, a male and a female, would be appointed as his political secretaries.

Lawyer Moses Iking and Ranau member Juliana Situn, it was agreed, would both be offered the post of political secretary to Jeffrey.

This is the second time that Moses is being offered a party post. He was earlier offered a vice-chairmanship but declined on the grounds that the party took no action against another vice-chairman blacklisted by the Insolvency Department.

“Many of us would have liked the aides to be hauled up for disciplinary action but the matter was not discussed,” said a number of party leaders approached separately after the session. “The appointment of the two political secretaries is expected to cut Jeffrey’s errant aides down to size.”

The party leaders, who requested anonymity for fear of being accused of fishing in troubled waters, fumed that the errant aides had not only acted with or without permission in the chairman’s name but also had been “kurang ajar” (disrespectful) of late to several senior party leaders who tried to tick them off privately.

The meeting generally did not comment or did not disagree too much when Jeffrey proposed that the gist of all press statements prepared by party leaders be first cleared with him, at least by telephone, before being issued. His main concern appeared to be on “not souring relations with other opposition parties” and “not touching on party policies”, the latter being read as euphemism for anything the party chairman didn’t like.

One party leader said he had no objections to seeking clearance from Jeffrey on his press statements “provided the party chairman bothered to answer their telephone calls”. Jeffrey, it appears, has a reputation for not picking up telephone calls, not returning missed calls, and not responding to text messages or emails. It’s even said that he doesn’t read emails except on his Blackberry if it’s not too full.

“The chairman promised to take all calls especially from party leaders,” said one party leader who attended the meeting. “He also promised to be punctual in future for appointments.”

The party chairman allegedly turns up late, anywhere between an hour to three hours, for public gatherings and meetings.

The meeting did not fault Jeffrey for this tardy time management on his part but advised him not to take on too many appointments or simply agree each time to the times set by others. He was further advised to learn to delegate and trust his fellow party leaders.

So far, Star has yet to set up any Bureaus, Committees or Sub-Committees although it claims to have a membership of 200,000, of which 175,000 it was further claimed signed up within the first three months of the party being set up in Sabah recently.

The meeting agreed with Jeffrey that the party needs to hold regular meetings and all its Bureaus, Committees and Sub-Committees need to be set up as soon as possible.

The meeting agreed that the party’s proposed vision and mission statements and manifesto, all bones of contention among the leadership and rank-and-file, need to be dusted off and tabled for discussion.

The party’s vision and mission statements and manifesto, Jeffrey agreed, would not be finalized without input from all stakeholders and unanimously agreed at a series of party meetings called specifically for the purpose.

It was tentatively agreed that the first meeting of the proposed Political Bureau would be held tentatively in the afternoon on Mon to discuss the vision and mission for a start. The discussion on the manifesto would be shelved to a later date. In the morning, on Mon, Star would sign a pact with Transparency-International Malaysia in Kota Kinabalu, the meeting learnt.

The party leaders already have draft copies of the vision and mission and manifesto following input by several Supreme Council members. However, the matter became controversial when Jeffrey’s aides sent several emails to senior party leaders dismissing their input as “just spin and bullshit”.

The offending emails by the errant aides have been cited as the reason for the current tension between the party headquarters in Kota Kinabalu and senior party leaders. It appears that snatches of these emails have found their way into FaceBook, Twitter, Chats and text messages.

Jeffrey reportedly promised that he would brief the Political Bureau on Mon on his meetings earlier this week with Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) vice president Tian Chua and party Treasurer William Leong.

No details related to Star were disclosed this morning.

Elsewhere, the meeting learnt that de facto PKR Chief Anwar Ibrahim is wary of Sabah Umno veteran Lajim Ukin and Upko deputy president Wilfred Mojilip Bumburing planning to defect to his party.
“It seems that both Lajim and Ukin are not interested in PKR but want to stand under the party symbol provided their respective factions are allotted 20 Muslim and 18 Native (Orang Asal) state seats,” said a Star leader. “Wilfred is willing to concede only one or two Native seats to Star.”

The suspicion is that both men would defect with their factions after the 13th General Election, said the leader. “We think that both Lajim and Wilfred would frog back to the Barisan Nasional (BN) after winning seats under PKR.”

Jeffrey announced in mid-April that Star would contest all 60 state seats at stake in Sabah and 26 parliamentary seats including Labuan in the 13th General Election.

The party is yet to climb down from this extreme position, reportedly a strategic move, but the word along the political grapevine in Sabah is that it would be prepared to retreat to 35 state seats and the related parliamentary seats.

It’s not known whether the 35 state seats include that which would be contested by the pro-tem United Sabah National Organisation (Usno) under the Star symbol. Usno had been reported to be eyeing 18 state seats.


By Joe Fernandez
Guest Columnist

COMMENT State Reform Party (Star) chairman Jeffrey Kitingan is once again in the news for the wrong reasons. He has stirred a hornet’s nest in Sabah by claiming that all politicians in Sabah, including his brother Joseph Pairin Kitingan, are frogs.

He thinks that this will explain him being discredited time and again by Sabahans as the King of Frogs. Jeffrey has, by most counts, moved through as many as six political parties but all this is water under the bridge and for the most part irrelevant.

His considered opinion is that other politicians continued their political frogging until they secured a comfort zone for themselves, albeit “at the expense of the people”.

In his case, according to him, he continued frogging until he could find a political vehicle which could accept his “struggle for the people”.

Of course, there’s the little matter of him not finding any political vehicle for his struggle until he set up Star. This begs the question of why he didn’t make such a move earlier.

Jeffrey’s comments on other political frogs have been dismissed by them as completely untrue. They claim to be struggling for the people too – by “bringing development to them” – instead of focusing on whatever Jeffrey is preaching all the time.

So far, it has all been needless indulgence in the politics of distraction and disruption from the real issues of the day. No doubt politicians in Sabah love the sound of their own voices.

The Star chairman obviously feels that “man does not live by bread alone”.

“What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but suffers the loss of his own soul?” asks Star deputy chairman Daniel John Jambun rhetorically. “This is the thrust of our struggle.”

Daniel may have a point about struggling for the soul of Sabah — i.e. to save it and obviously from the clutches of Peninsular Malaysia and their local proxies and their stooges — but that’s about as far as it goes.

His boss seems to be squatting so far on the so-called struggle for the people.

He has blown hot and cold on Daniel John and Co internationalizing the struggle for Borneo in Malaysia.

Therein lies an emerging split in Star which will either see Jeffrey being ousted from his own party or many Supreme Council members leaving for the Parti Cinta Sabah (PCS) which has been approved in principle in recent weeks. The party is awaiting its registration certificate. PCS plans to join the Star-initiated, formed and led United Borneo Alliance (UBA).

The proof of the pudding is in the eating.

Jeffrey has confined himself thus far in his ceramah to explaining the history of Sabah before and in Malaysia. No one can fault him here since not many people, especially the younger generation, are conversant with the historical facts.

But the movement for Sabah does not seem to be moving from rhetoric to action.

To digress a little, the younger generation doesn’t seem to be too bothered by Sabah’s history in Malaysia.

Instead, they have cut the Gordian knot and are asking why Sabah should be in Malaysia at all.

Their logic is simple: Peninsular Malaysia is so far away, we can’t even breathe without their permission, and “why are we in Federation with them especially since we can be on our own?”

Others ask: “How did we get into this situation and how do we get out?”

Jeffrey has no answers and it would be foolhardy for anyone, judging from his politics since 1984, to look to him.

True, he did lead a rowdy Star crowd to greet Prime Minister Mohd Najib Abdul Razak on his recent visit to Keningau where he (Najib) announced a quarter billion ringgit loan to Sabah for a water treatment plant.

They had placards reading “Sabah’s independence” and castigating Putrajaya for behaving like an Ah Long (loan shark) with Sabah after seizing almost all its revenue for itself.

This is the first time that Jeffrey has been associated with “Sabah’s independence”. No one is sure what it means. So, the excitement was lacking.

It would have been different had Jeffrey stated in no uncertain terms that Malaysia has ceased to exist following the Federal Government’s non-compliance on the five constitutional documents and/or constitutional conventions on Malaysia i.e. the 1963 Malaysia Agreement (MA63), the Three-Point Oath Stone (Batu Sumpah) witnessed and solemnized by the Federal Government in Keningau, the 20/18 Points, the Inter Governmental Committee Report and the Cobbold Commission Report.

Non-compliance ipso facto meant that Sabah’s self-determination of 31 Aug 1963 (Sarawak 22 July 1963) remains undiminished.

Jeffrey lost a golden opportunity in Keningau to say what he meant and mean what he said.

In any case, he appears to be no messiah for his flock.

The thrust of his complaints thus far has been that the Federal Government has been in non-compliance on MA63. He wants Putrajaya to set up a compliance mechanism.

This is unlikely to happen as MA63 has ceased to exist by virtue of non-compliance but Jeffrey refuses to accept this and continues to flog the proverbial dead horse on a compliance mechanism.

Not surprising he has been accused by no less than former Sabah Chief Minister Harris Salleh of seriously misleading the people with his propaganda barrage on a compliance mechanism. Harris claims that MA63 – and the four other constitutional documents and/or constitutional conventions – “has been overtaken by events”. This is euphemism for non-compliance. However, Harris dreads and avoids the term non-compliance.

Jeffrey’s politics also glosses over the fact that Sabahans are by no means united on being out of Malaysia or even in Malaysia.

Putrajaya has done a very successful job since 1963 of pitting the people in the state against each other, introducing polarisation a la Peninsular Malaysia, and ensuring proxy control of the politics of the state.

The political situation has been further compounded by the influx of illegal immigrants who have over the years allegedly found their way into the electoral rolls.

These illegals see Putrajaya and Malaysia as the best guarantee of their continued existence in Sabah.

Local Muslims see the illegals as being in the state particularly at their expense, further marginalizing and disenfranchising them as the opportunities that should go to them dwindle even further.

Jeffrey is yet to bridge the non-Muslim-local Muslim disconnect created by Putrajaya over nearly five decades. So far, only some of the Dusuns including Muslims and Muruts are with him. The same goes for the Suluks, Brunei Muslims and Chinese. He has hardly any support among the Bajau and Irranun.

The Chinese appear caught between the Orang Asal (Natives) – the Murut and the Dusuns including the Kadazan or urban Dusun – the local Muslims and the illegals.

Jeffrey will be no game-changer unless he can get his act together and help forge total unity among Sabahans i.e. Orang Asal and the others alike to take on the illegals allegedly on the electoral rolls.

Charity begins at home.

Getting his act together would first mean setting his own house in order.

There are growing complaints that Star is a one-man show with little evidence of democracy in action, unrepresentative, and no empowerment of the leadership and members.

Jeffrey’s aides seem to be more powerful than even the party’s three deputy chairmen. The aides have since prevailed on their boss to issue a gag order on anyone other than Jeffrey issuing press statements. These statements are invariably written by the aides.

The party has also yet to reveal its vision, mission, objectives, goals and activities although there’s a draft prepared by several Supreme Council members. The draft has reportedly been dismissed by Jeffrey’s aides as “spin and bullshit”.

The oft-cited party Manifesto, again provided by several Supreme Council members in draft form, has been allowed to gather dust on the shelf by Jeffrey’s aides on the grounds that it was not written by their boss, “it was just spin and bullshit”, and that “Star (meaning Jeffrey’s aides) has its own way of doing things”.

It appears to be clear to many that if the two respective drafts can be “rejected”, then Jeffrey is clearly no game-changer and can be discounted from the emerging political equation in Sabah and Malaysia.


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.


In this time of stupefying political stagnation at the highest levels of the Government of Malaysia, good news is hard to come by. Good news is only possible when governments show that they are capable of firm economic and political decisions. And, there is not the smallest sign that the Najib’s government plans to do anything other than continue stagnating till the next general election somewhere on March/April 2013. Please do not allow 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M) payment of RM500 to households with an income of less than RM3000 per month to fool you into believing that there are signs of renewal that are suddenly going to manifest themselves. The results of the last round of General Elections the 12th were so stunningly bad for UMNO that there is not a murmur of revival in the hot June air.

On the economic front, where there is the most urgent need for change, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Idris Jala also Chief Executive Officer of the Performance Management and Delivery Unit (PEMANDU) drops a bombshell that Malaysia will be bankrupt by 2019 if it does not cut subsidies and rein in borrowings. Idris a Sarawakian the former “Number One Man” for Sarawak Shell further added fuel when he said that Malaysia’s debt would rise to 100 percent of GDP by 2019 from the current 54% if it did not cut subsidies. And what is even more frightening is when Idris said that Malaysia was likely to become an oil importer as early as next year at the current rate it was consuming petroleum. It seems Malaysians continue to be among the highest fuel consumers per capita in the world fuel consumption habits pattern which generally has remained relatively unchanged despite increased oil prices in 2008. The damage that can be done by a tired, comatose government before 13th General Elections is too horrific to think about but do not despair. There are signs of good news from the states.

You would have noticed them if you read between the lines of the statements that were made in Keningau Sports Complex few days ago by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak when he celebrated Tadau Kaamatan this year in Keningau with 20,000 Natives including, Huguan Siou Pairin Kitingan and Chief Minister Musa Aman. Najib openly acknowledged that Sabah is experiencing rapid growth under Musa Aman and Sabah in the first quarter of this year had attracted about RM10 billion from foreign investors including the Sabah Ammonia Urea (SAMUR) project in Sipitang and the Keningau Integrated Livestock Center and a lobster cultivation project in the east coast of Sabah. But, UMNO now rules only 8 states minus Sarawak, so it does not matter. What does matter is for chief ministers like Musa Aman, Lim Guan Eng and perhaps even Menteri Besars like Khalid and Tok Guru Nik Aziz to wake up to how they could become the engine that takes Malaysia forward despite the inertia in Putrajaya.

To wake up and become engine that takes Malaysia forward, sometimes the state governments should be vocal with the way development projects from the Federal is forced down their throats and not done according to the aspirations of the local population. So far they have only rebelled against the Rural Development Ministry’s attempts to set up rural development committees to bypass and to undermine the state governments without consulting them. In states were UMNO was not in control, the minister Shafie Apdal uses his district rural development committees to bypass and to undermine state governments. In states were UMNO is in control, the rural development program was used in a pork-barrel fashion to support local party leaders. And, the states are right to do so but they now need to become more vocal about other things like having centrally controlled development and welfare programmes rammed down their throats. I have met state ministers and state exco members who admit privately that they are often forced to sacrifice excellent welfare programmes of their own for the sake of national welfare programmes. Remember, the former Chief Minister Harris Salleh recently even said that Shafie’s Rural Ministry had even justified awarding a RM100 million tender amount for the Pulau Gaya electrification project when the actual tender cost was only about RM25 million. Harris Salleh even said that he had received “many complaints from rural folk” that the billions of ringgit allocated by the federal government for rural projects was not having an impact on their lives and these projects were introduced for the sake of contracts and most of them are of low standard.

This is wrong because I can confirm from my own field research that the rural development programmes and welfare programmes that work best are the ones that are locally controlled. I have said it before and I will say it again that if we are seriously interested in ensuring that not another child grows up malnourished and illiterate in Malaysia, the solution lies in giving kampong women control of food programmes. This is something that more enlightened chief ministers should start doing forthwith which brings us back to what chief ministers can do to become Malaysia’s engine of growth.

They must demand more control over their resources. The sight of chief ministers and Meneri Besars lining up outside the Putrajaya to beg for development funds is an ugly one. Some states are bigger than the whole of Peninsula Malaysia and they would develop and grow much faster if they had more control over their economies. Many distortions crept into Centre-State relations in those bad old days when UMNO controlled nearly all of our major state governments. These distortions need to be removed and should be quite easy to remove now that we see Non-UMNO chief ministers making common cause on matters of national security.

Once state governments start competing with each other to become popular tourist destinations, favorites for foreign investment and centres of excellence in rural development, education, healthcare, sanitation and infrastructure building, Malaysia will finally begin to really change.

If this starts to happen soon, then the deleterious consequences of having a stagnant government in Putrajaya and a Prime Minister who seems to be in a somnambulant state will be mitigated. At the moment, despite the “spectacular” success of BR1M, we are in the hands of so weak a government that not a day seems to go by without someone giving it a slap or two. In recent months, we have seen Ministers and supposedly faceless bureaucrat interfere publicly in matters of policy.

When Federal Ministers decide what our telecommunications and multimedia policy should be and when Ministers decides whether MAS should be refinanced or abandoned to its fate. And, when the Minister tells us despite possessing state-of-the-art warplanes, modern weapons  and submarines that the nation’s security was so fragile that it could be compromised by mineral water bottles and packets of salt, it starts to feel as if we do not have an elected government at all. The Chief Ministers and Menteri Besars have at least a mandate to rule and real administrative experience.


by Joe Fernandez
Guest Columnist
BRIEFLY The consensus at the grassroots level is that the 13th GE won’t see a repeat of the 2008 political tsunami in Peninsular Malaysia despite the alternative media because the vital Hindraf Makkal Sakthi factor, representing the Indian underclass in particular, will be missing this time.

The reasons are aplenty.

Bersih under super duper rich lawyer Ambiga Sreenivasan won’t be able to help Pakatan Rakyat (PR), especially Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), compensate for the absence of Hindraf.

Amibiga is no match whatsoever for Hindraf. She doesn’t represent the Indian underclass. She continues to get the support of the Chinese and Malays, the converted, for PR but the Indians, the crucial factor, is missing. Attacking Ambiga in racist terms is not going to make the Indians come rushing to her defence.

Indraf, the new NGO, is a sick PKR joke just as Malaysian Makkal Sakthi was a desperate Umno joke.

In the same vein, ex-PR propagandist and fugitive blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin, currently held up by the Barisan Nasional (BN), has been labelled a “political clown” who’s full of himself.

The bottomline is that people did not vote for PR in 2008.

They voted against BN because of the bandwagon effect created by Hindraf Makkal Sakthi in Nov 2007 and mid-Feb 2008 and the alternative media playing it up.

Only the Indians can bring down the BN in Peninsular Malaysia.

If the Indians abstain, PKR will lose and BN will win by default and coupled with Sabah and Sarawak, BN will still form the Federal Government.

If the Indians vote against BN, even support from Sabah and Sarawak will not be enough to help BN to form the Federal Government.

People in Sabah and Sarawak are under the mistaken impression that they can be King Makers.

They are sadly mistaken.

Only the Indians can be King Makers or King Killers.

If Sabah and Sarawak are King Makers and King Killers, BN won’t continue to take them for granted as Fixed Deposit — think illegals — states.

If Sabah and Sarawak want to be a factor in politics in the mainstream, they should join forces with the Indians as a 3rd Force. By themselves, they will be not in the political mainstream, and that’s why Umno continues to ignore them and take them for granted.

PR will never form the Federal Government if they don’t get the Indian community to vote against BN. Note that the Indians voting against BN is not the same as voting for PR. The Indians voted against BN the last time because of Hindraf and not MIC.

By focussing on the Chinese and Malays, Anwar is merely preaching to the converted.

Come the 13th GE, PR will at best hang on to its gains of 2008 in Peninsular Malaysia including Perak.

At worst, PKR will lose all its seats outside Kuala Lumpur and in the five Opposition states of 2008 because of the Indians and maybe even the Malays.

The Chinese will be all out for PR, the Indians for Dap and Pas only.

The Indians will reject PKR as cast in the same mould as Umno and BN.

Where PKR loses, it will be because Indians didn’t vote for them and where BN wins, it will be because the Indians didn’t vote against them (BN). In both cases, the Indians would have abstained from voting.

The Chinese know that PKR is another Umno but think that the solution to that is to increase their numbers in the party.

If the Chinese are willing to do this with PKR, the Indians should adopt the same approach and give it time to get results for themselves. The Indians must remember that they can’t join Umno but PKR is open to them. At one time, Indians reportedly formed 40 per cent of the PKR membership but they left largely because of de facto party chief Anwar Ibrahim’s attitude to Hindraf.

Unfortunately, the Indians can only bring down the ruling party in the immediate future without themselves benefiting from the change. That’s why they left PKR.

It seems that the Indians are condemned to repeatedly bringing down the ruling party until the Chinese and Malays finally get the message that they (Indians) must be given their rightful place in the Malaysian sun or otherwise it will continue to undermine national security and thereby bring down and depress values — shares, property, currency etc — as investor and consumer confidence continues to be lacking.

In Sabah and Sarawak, come the 13th GE, the BN will not be able to repeat its performance of 2008. There will be a mini political tsunami in Sabah and Sarawak as a delayed reaction to the 2008 political tsunami in Peninsular Malaysia.

PKR will be rejected in Sabah. The party, rightly or wrongly, has acquired the stigma of being against the Orang Asal (Natives) and rooting, overtly and covertly, for the illegal immigrants allegedly on the electoral rolls.

Meanwhile, the longer the 13th GE is delayed, the less seats that Dap will win in Sabah.

The 3rd Force, albeit small, will come into being in Sabah if not Sarawak but at the expense of BN and not PR.

PR should work with the 3rd Force. It should not continue to belabour under the mistaken impression that the 3rd Force is its mortal enemy.

This is the same strategic mistake that they, especially PKR, has made with Hindraf Makkal Sakthi.

Again, it’s high time that PR accepted the fact that the people did not vote for them in 2008. They voted against BN and PR won by default.

There’s no place in Sabah and Sarawak for PR and eventually for BN too. It’s better for BN and PR to focus on Peninsular Malaysia and leave Sabah and Sarawak alone.

Sabah and Sarawak are 3rd Force and Hindraf Makkal Sakthi territory.

Sabah and Sarawak, being in the underclass like the Orang Asli and the great majority of the Indians, Christians and other minorities, are crucial to Hindraf’s strategy to cut Umno down to size and prevent PKR from getting too big for its boots.


by Joe Fernandez
Guest Columnist

ANALYSIS Malaysia Agreement or no Malaysia Agreement, Sarawak or Sabah/Labuan for that matter, cannot step outside the bounds with the Federal Government. Putrajaya belongs as much to the two Malaysian states in Borneo as to Peninsular Malaysia.

At a lower level, the Federal Government presides over the individual sultanates, states and territories in Peninsular Malaysia.

Five on-going issues, some simmering for long, have pitted the Sarawak state government in a head-long clash against the Federal Government. It’s anybody’s guess how Putrajaya will bring the recalcitrant Taib Mahmud regime to heel. Surely, the Joseph Pairin Kitingan administration (1985 – 1994) in Sabah is the mother of all precedents!

Now (drumroll) for the latest of the five issues viz. Native status, followed by immigration, heads of federal depts, NCR land and Taib’s long-promised retirement as Chief Minister.

In the latest move, the Sarawak National Registration Department’s (NRD) willful defiance of an 18 Nov 2009 policy circular, [ref: PM( R)11880/A/072/3 Jld 5] by the Chief Secretary to the Government is likely to inflame passions and further infuriate the Chinese and other non-Native communities in Sarawak against the state government.

Not that Taib cares anyway despite the drubbing he received in the urban and Chinese seats during last year’s state elections.

A Sarawakian non-Native married to a Bidayuh lady has come forward to scream in the local media, anonymously, that the Sarawak NRD does not recognise the Chief Secretary’s circular which rules that children born in Sabah and Sarawak of only one non-Native parent can henceforth be registered “by administration” as Natives. The only reason that this is happening is because recruitments for federal departments in Sarawak, unlike in Sabah, are done through the Sarawak Federal Public Services Commission.
The Sarawak NRD, according to Sarawakian, advised him to get confirmation from the Native Court and the Majlis Adat Istiadat Sarawak (MAIS) on his children’s Native status. To add insult to injury, The Sarawak NRD reiterated that it doesn’t recognise the Chief Secretary’s said circular as valid.

MAIS told him point-blank that it interprets Native strictly as a citizen of Malaysia of any race which is now considered to be indigenous to Sarawak as set out in the Schedule under section 3 of the Interpretation Ordinance (1958 Edition), Chapter 1 of the Laws of Sarawak “and any admixture of the above races with each other”.

Obviously, the Sarawak NRD is wrong in law to ignore the said administrative policy circular from the Chief Secretary to the Government. The said circular has never been successfully challenged in Court and therefore, until such time, stands valid in law.

“Law” is not just Adat, the Constitution and Acts/Enactments/Ordinances but also constitutional conventions, administrative policies and even includes what can be deemed as “politically correct”.

That’s how Momogun (non-Natives) in Sabah can apply for Pasok (Native) status provided they are citizens in the state living among the latter community and habitually speaking Native languages and practising Native culture, customs and traditions.

For example, the Queen of England can refuse to appoint a Prime Minister on the grounds that the unwritten constitution and related aspects makes no reference to a Prime Minister.

In reality, the Queen appoints the Prime Minister anyway by convention. Otherwise, she would be precipitating a constitutional crisis.

Likewise, the Sarawak NRD has no business ignoring the said circular by the Chief Secretary to the Government. Wither 1Sarawak, if not 1Malaysia!

Those unhappy with the said circular, and this by the way does not include the Sarawak NRD, should take up the matter in Court by way of a Judicial Review of the administrative policy.
So, the right thing for the Sarawak NRD to do under the circumstances would be to accept the applications from “Sarawakian” and leave it to others with locus standi to challenge the administrative ruling in Court.

Instead, the Sarawak NRD seems to have created its own mini-administrative ruling to oppose the circular.

The Federal Government is also irked by the state government, under Taib’s directive, routinely barring Malaysian citizens from Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah entering Sarawak.

The Special Provisions for East Malaysia, under the Immigration Act 1967, does not bestow the right to bar citizens from Sabah and Sarawak. The provision is only meant to safeguard local jobs from being taken by Peninsular Malaysians.

Likewise, Taib has been misusing the Immigration to deny long-term work permits to Peninsular Malaysians or Sabahans appointed as heads of Federal Departments in Sarawak. These appointees can only secure three-month work permits at a time instead of one for three years.

Will Prime Minister Mohd Najib Abdul Razak blink when push comes to shove on the difficult patches with the state government and, as it is being predicted by the locals, flee with his tail between the legs when Taib says, “boo!”

The talk in Kuching is that Taib has gone back on his public pledge, made during the state elections in Sarawak last year, to resign as Chief Minister not long after the results come in and certainly well before the 13th General Elections. Instead, Taib woke up the 90-year-old Governor and had himself sworn in as the Chief Minister in the dead of night instead of waiting until the next morning.

Taib, when pressed by Najib on the resignation issue, is reported to have retorted in a challenge: “Let’s see who will retire first, whether me or you!”

The Federal Government is also extremely unhappy that the Sarawak state government has virtually ignored several NCR land cases which went against it in Court. Putrajaya released several million ringgit to demarcate Native lands in Sarawak but Taib, being displeased with the funding, has been dragging his foot on the issue. In the lands reluctantly demarcated so far by the state government, only the area immediately surrounding a longhouse is being considered NCR land while communal land further away is being treated as state land.

Najib seems ever mindful that Taib, with at least 25 parliamentary seats behind him, can dictate to him at least for the moment given his stand-off in Peninsular Malaysia with the national opposition alliance Pakatan Rakyat.

It goes without saying that had Taib been a non-Muslim, Najib would have gone after him hammer and tongs as what former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad did to Pairin.