Archive for the ‘Yayasan Sabah’ Category

2016 was the best year for Sabah tourism with an arrival of 3,427,908 foreign tourists amounting in a whooping RM7.25 billion in tourism receipts.

First it was the RM7 billion proposed Tanjung Aru Eco Development (TAED) a green township comprising hotels, Eco golf course, the Marina, and the enlarged Prince Philip Park approximately 348 hectares or 3,481,400 square meters to the west of Kota Kinabalu International Airport. Later that year Sabah was allocated another RM11.42 billion to implement several infrastructure projects under the 11th Malaysia Plan (11MP) 2016-2020 by the Federal Works Ministry, this is just the first phase. The second phase of the 11MP will involve RM8.55 billion for 32 projects, including the ongoing construction of the Pan Borneo Highway and more improvements to infrastructure. The Pan Borneo Highway in Sabah, involving a 706km stretch from Sindumin to Tawau, will be fully-completed by Dec 31, 2021. And then another RM3 billion in MoUs signed by Sabah State Government with private sectors to invest in agriculture and forestry and tourism and manufacturing.

It is a commentary on the bizarre priorities of our information order that investment commitments totaling $114 billion under Sabah Development Corridor, equaling nearly one fifth of Malaysia’s GDP, are either ignored or put on par with anodyne political statements. This, however, is not the occasion to lament the lack of even-handedness in the treatment of anything remotely connected to Sabah chief minister Musa Aman. It is the time to celebrate something that is fast becoming undeniable: the emergence of Sabah as the investment powerhouse of Malaysia.

In the start of the Cockerel Year, there was a stark contrast between a Sabah bubbling with optimism and the rest of the country despairing over economic mismanagement and missed opportunities. It is not that all the MoUs signed with private sector will be translated into reality. Many will remain paper commitments . But when the who’s who of Malaysia’s industry line up to proclaim their faith in Sabah as a wholesome place for investment, having already put their money where their mouth is, neither Malaysia nor the rest of the world can afford to be in denial.

The proclamations of faith in Sabah are all the more meaningful because they have been made despite some in Kuala Lumpur’s unremitting displeasure with anything that could bolster Musa Aman’s credentials. However, Musa Aman doesn’t usually win awards for being the “Reformer of the Year” or for innovative governance. In fact, he doesn’t even make it to the shortlist. Nevertheless he has invariably secured an unequivocal thumbs-up from those who have a real stake in the emergence of Sabah as a Malaysia economic power house.

Skeptics and naysayers who insist that the rise of Sabah has little to do with the state government, are partially right. Entrepreneurship and business are part of the Musa Aman’s DNA and not because he is Sabahan, and its reason why Sabah has always proudly cloaked itself in the business ethos since Musa took over as CEO of the state. Sabah has registered the highest GDP growth in the past 14 years and owes much of this success to the targeted, business-friendly approach of its government.

In relation to this, four features of ascendancy stands out. The first is quick decision-making—what Musa Aman has dubbed the “red carpet, not red tape” approach, ask corporate philanthropist Datuk Victor Paul, for example, recount how the land allotment and development for the Perdana Park in Tanjung Aru was made possible. Datuk Victor Paul built the multi-million ringgit park all with his own money, there was no such thing as land swap and he build the park entirely as part of his Corporate Social Responsibility and as a gift to the state and the people without any form of payment or reward. Victor Paul completed the whole project in less than two years, a quick-fire decision that has fetched Sabah this park.

The second feature is the curious phenomenon of the near-absence of political corruption at the top. Even Musa Aman’s worst enemies will not deny that the chief minister’s fanatical personal integrity has had a salutary trickle-down effect. Irritated by politically inspired extortion, industry has identified Sabah as a place where it is possible to do ethical business. That’s why when the Sabah Water Department scandal broke out, involving alleged abuse of power in the siphoning of RM3.3 billion of federal funds for water development in Sabah, Musa Aman sent out a tough message against corruption ordered dismissal of corrupt officers from service. The chief minister directed speedier action against the corrupt officials and ordered dismissal of all of them after completing departmental proceedings and other formalities including allowing MACC to deal with it.

Since 2003, Musa Aman’s Sabah has been marked by social and political peace. Particularly important for industry is the absence of political unrest, which unseated Tan Sri Pairin Kitingan in 1994. This is because Sabah has bucked a national trend and is witnessing high growth in many sectors especially eco-tourism and agriculture—last year the sector grew by 9.9%. This means that farmers mainly natives, now have a stake in the larger prosperity of the state and aren’t swayed by populists.

Sabahans and those interested in the state must remember that in the past one such populist, Shafie Apdal had nearly succeeded in selling off stakes in Yayasan Sabah when he was Chairman of North Borneo Timber Berhad (NBT) a subsidiary of YS, when his uncle Sakaran Dandai (now Tun) was Chief Minister in the mid 90s. This share swap ICBS-NBT could have resulted in the Yayasan becoming public listed and native Sabahans losing their birth right of a valuable asset, including Sabah Softwoods Sdn Bhd. However, it was Musa who was serving as CHAIRMAN/CHIEF EXECUTIVE of INNOPRISE CORPORATION (ICSB) then was able to intercept the transaction, ensuring that power remains in the hands of it’s people. Now imagine if such a populist becomes the Sabah Chief Minister.

Finally, the growth of Sabah has been spurred by a philosophy of “minimum government and maximum governance”. In plain language, this means that the state government has concentrated on creating the infrastructure for growth and left it to the private sector to get on with the job of actual wealth creation.The extent to which this vibrant Sabah capitalism will benefit Musa’s ambitions is difficult to predict. But one thing is certain. As Sabah shines and acquires an economic momentum of its own, more and more businesses will find it worthwhile to channel a major chunk of their new investments into Sabah. Kuala Lumpur may not like the resulting uneven growth but the alternative is not to thwart Sabah by political subterfuge-such as preventing public sector from engaging with the state government and the whimsical use of environmental regulations. Sabah has shown that accelerated and sustained growth is possible when the state plays the role of an honest facilitator, rather than a controller.

Musa Aman didn’t create the Sabahan character; he but he certainly did mould it. He gave it the much needed contemporary thrust as well as an ethical dimension. If more of our politicians focused on these important nuances, Malaysia as a nation will be a much better place.


by Joe Fernandez
Guest Columnist

COMMENT Former Sabah Chief Minister Harris Salleh did not mention then Sabah Foundation Director, Jeffrey Kitingan, when he pontificated sanctimoniously on the so-called missing RM 4 billion, among other issues, in a tirade against former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in recent days.

Harris was apparently taking offence at Mahathir’s statement in Kota Kinabalu, at Universiti Malaysia Sabah last week that “Sabah would be the richest state soon in Malaysia in terms of natural resources”.

However, everyone in town knows that Harris was referring to Mahathir’s infamous statement that RM 4 billion was “missing” from Sabah Foundation during Jeffrey’s time. Incidentally, it was Harris himself who appointed Jeffrey as Sabah Foundation director. He continued to hold the post when his elder brother, Joseph Pairin Kitingan, became Chief Minister.

Jeffrey has clarified every time the issue surfaced that the RM 4 billion allegedly missing was the difference between the spot price for timber and the long-term contract price. One cannot sign long-term contracts at spot prices. The Price Water House Audit Report on Sabah Foundation, commissioned by Mahathir, makes no mention that RM 4 billion was missing.

Undeterred, what Mahathir did was to take out his little calculator, note the difference between the spot price and contract price, multiply by the tonnage over a period of time and came up with the political statement on the so-called missing RM 4 billion.

So, Harris was right when he alleged on Sat that Mahathir may have been making a political  statement on the RM 4 billion “just to pacify and satisfy himself”, no doubt after the audit report failed to uncover any evidence of malpractices or mismanagement. Nothing ever came out of the audit report.

Jeffrey in a text message to FMT, extrapolating from the RM 4 billion, added that he was the most probed individual during Mahathir’s time. “All the government agencies, Inland Revenue Department, Anti Corruption Agency, Special Branch, were mobilized”. Apparently, the probes came up empty judging by the fact that nothing ever happened after that to Jeffrey, although his text message doesn’t make that clear.

The talk in Sabah — “where there are no secrets” — is whatever happened to Jeffrey “stupendous wealth” even without factoring in the RM 4 billion.

There’s not even one Sabahan, dead or alive, who does not believe that Mahathir took away Jeffrey’s money, all reportedly salted away in locations overseas in numbered accounts, after detaining him under the draconian Internal Security Act (ISA) for various other reasons.

Likewise, it would be difficult to convince Sabahans that Jeffrey never had all the money attributed to him discounting the RM 4 billion, and now nowhere in evidence.

It’s an open secret that Jeffrey was engaged in various businesses as an investor and directly, but under a wide network of nominees, even while he was Sabah Foundation director.

Many of these nominees reportedly made off with sizeable portions of his money while he was under ISA detention. But none probably ripped him off to the extent that Mahathir did since it was within his (Mahathir’s) means to do so. This might partly explain a list circulating on the internet, detailing various accounts that the Mahathir family is allegedly maintaining in Israel.

On the nominees themselves, Jeffrey does not seem to harbour any rancor against them, and many of these same people are still in business for themselves especially with the Sabah Foundation.

It would not be surprising if these people are financing Jeffrey’s politics. He can call in many favours. His State Reform Party (Star) certainly does not seem to be short of funds judging from their campaigns underway in Sabah, Sarawak and even in Peninsular Malaysia among voters from the two states. It’s the size of the war chest that seems to attract many willing to chip in and work for the party. Star leaders claim that most of the party’s funds come from contributions from ordinary people.

Sabahans, putting two and two together, see a definite link between Jeffrey’s great wealth vanishing almost overnight and his detention under the ISA for two-year terms renewed twice.

Sabah, all Sabahans fume like Harris, has long been a rich state in terms of natural resources but continues to be the poorest state in the country as reported by the World Bank in Kota Kinabalu at the end of 2010.

There are parallels between the descent of Jeffrey and Sabah into poverty, one complete, another continuing.

Again, the difference is that the former has no longer any wealth which one can milk while the latter, his country, continues to bleed to death as Putrajaya and companies in Peninsular Malaysia prey on it like “parasites, leeches and bloodsuckers”, for want of better terms.

Harris himself in his Sat statement deplored the fact that Peninsular Malaysian-owned gambling companies operating in Sabah siphon away billions every year. In the process, their unfortunate victims are forced into the clutches and claws of Ah Long, loan sharks, outsiders who have followed these gaming companies to Sabah. These loan sharks are linked to triads and seem to have forged a cosy relationship with local police to bring defaulters to heel.

If these gaming companies were locally-owned, at least the money would remain in the state and circulate within the economy.

The Peninsular Malaysian-owned plantation companies operating in Sabah, including Felda with some 350, 000 hectares, are likewise siphoning away billions every year from the state. Many of them have somehow got their hands on vast hectares of Native land under one pretext or another judging from cases which have so far surfaced in Court.

Federal Government and Petronas procurements and contracts in Sabah also go to Peninsular Malaysian-owned companies.

The locals are left with the crumbs by way of minor sub-contracts and smalltime supplies. It seems that the so-called Bumiputera in Peninsular Malaysia can get the same status in Sabah too in defiance of the state constitution.

Then, of course, there are the age-old grievances against Petronas and the Federal Government taking 95 per cent of the oil revenue from the inner waters, 100 per cent of such revenue from the outer waters, the Badawi Government giving away Oil Blocks L and M to Brunei and keeping new discoveries in Sabah and total discovered gas and oil reserves in the state so far a highly-guarded state secret.

Jeffrey has also pointed out that of this year’s National Budget of nearly RM 200 billion, Sabah and Sarawak were allocated — not the same as releasing funds — a measly RM 4 billion each.

At the same time, according to Jeffrey on You Tube, the Federal Government collected nearly RM 40 billion last year in income tax, customs duties and other revenue alone — excluding oil and gas — from Sabah.

Hence, the war cry among Sabahans that they have been internally colonised on the revenue front besides in other areas.

I’m an optimist. I believe that statements like “Altantuya Knew Najib” or “Saiful Sodomise by 65 Year Old Anwar Ibrahim” can be evaluated and decided pretty much true or false. The conclusion can be a little more nuanced, but the important thing is that there’s a definitive conclusion.

And even crazier, I believe that if in Malaysia there was a fair and accurate system for determining which of these things were lies, people would stop repeating the lies. I would certainly try to. No matter how much I wanted to believe “Musa Aman Worth US 3 Billion” or “ Najib is Making His Move On Musa Aman” or ‘Musa Aman The Longest Servicing Chief Minister in Sabah”, if a fair system had decided against it, I would stop.

I believe the truth is more important than particular political goals. I want to know that when I make claims, I’m not speaking out of political distortion but out of honest truth. And at the same-time I too want to be able to evaluate the claims of others.

There must be a system and here in my blog I want such a system to work.

First, some ground rules. Everything is open. Anyone can submit anything, and all the records are put on this public website and readers will evaluate.

I shall start of by saying that there seem to be selective prosecution of Musa Aman’s Timber Cronies By Najib’s MACC.

Hear this, the rumour mill sprang into full operation again last week. Speculation abounded about whether Micheal Chai of Sandakan, the timber tycoon linked to Musa Aman, had been raided by MACC again, and whether he had been taken in for questioning again to Putrajaya after being detained and released earlier last month.

The raid was alleged to have been linked to the MACC’s investigation of alleged money laundering and the smuggling of 16 million cash out from Hong Kong International Airport and also to do with Yayasan Sabah’s Timber Concession areas covering close to 1 million hectares. In fact I have written extensively on this.

Micheal Chai was indeed taken in for questioning soon after.

Claims that even Musa Aman had been contacted by MACC and asked to step down as Chief Minister. It seems potentially damning information from the ICAC Hong Kong had come in, and that information would harm UMNO and premier Najib Tun Razak, had surfaced against him. This was of course strongly denied by Musa Aman’s aides. I was even told by Musa Aman’s timber associates that there was never any interaction between the chief minister and the MACC.

Then according to an SMS circulated this week, MACC had confiscated from timber cronies associated with Musa Aman close to 45-million in cash, passports, IDs and other documents, as well as a laptop containing details about all bank accounts in Hong Kong, timber sales to Japan, shipping documents, including instructions to heads of department in Yayasan Sabah about who may be awarded timber extracting tenders.

Claims that could not be officially confirmed included that a warrant of arrest was issued for Micheal Chai by a Putrajaya magistrate last week; that MACC had arrived at Sandakan to arrest Micheal Chai, but had left without doing so; that Micheal Chai was taken in for questioning that lasted more than 3 days, after last Friday’s raid; and that he was to be rearrested again and brought back to Putrajaya MACC office; and that senior lawyer Richard Barnes Ex Sabah state footballer, released and back in KK.

Every Rumour has its foundation in truth, it is simply there because our main media is inadequate in satisfying the curiosity of the people over information, when people expect things to happen and it has not happened, they have every right to speculate why it is has not happened, when there is no explanation for that, they turn to rumour market for answer. Simple. Malaysians are same everywhere, they love RUMOURS. It’s so because in Malaysia, the impotent Media appear sterile and the potent Internet appear fertile.

Everywhere I go for coffee in Kota Kinabalu, from ‘Salim’ in Lintas to ‘Kuan Ah’ in Foh Sang to Tanjung Aru to Putatan, even in Tuaran, people keep asking “What’s happening to Musa?” or “Why Musa Punya Machai Semua Kena Tangkap?” The recent rearrest of Michael Chai and three others last Friday in Sandakan by MACC is creating even much more uncertainty in the state capital Kota Kinabalu. The rumors are swirling that Musa will be out sooner than later because Najib wants him out.

Then there is this story about this women and Musa Aman, but I never heard them. The first I heard of them was in Sandakan, yesterday. Onn Ariffin is talking this up, but he isn’t the most reliable source…however when Raja Petra in London has info and predicts this will be a scoop I listen.

The woman Rosmawati, a Senior Group Manager for Yayasan Sabah, stated of as a secretary and got promoted to such a senior position all within 5 years after knowing Musa aman. And then, suddenly, Rosmawati is relocated to KK from Sandakan to become Senior Group General Manager. And it makes no sense that she’s doing her supposed “job,” for which she seems unqualified anyway. It’s unclear how she could possibly do this job at all, never mind from Sandakan. And she’s been there for at least 3 years as a small time secretary. Now 33, she vigorously denies the vicious and unsubstantiated gossip.

And some Yayasan Sabah insiders suggested that she was the victim of an 11th-hour attempt to smear Musa Aman from become an UMNO Supreme Council Member during the last UMNO AGM.

But now the rumours have resurfaced, suggesting that they may be coming from elements in the UMNO Sabah.

Having now spoken to someone tracking this Romawati story, I can say for sure:

1) It’s not just a silly little rumor.

2) It will break in some form shortly..

Just remember…this is only a rumor until the media get off their behinds and actually investigate this. I heard another rumor that they plan on doing that the day after hell freezes over. I am not claiming this rumor to be true, only offering certain facts that raise serious questions I believe any unbiased media has the obligation to investigate. If only an unbiased media existed. Remember how the media played catch-up with the blogs, Malaysia Today on the Pak Lah’s affair with Jean his sister-in-law?  Remember? It will be fun to see them repeat their mistakes if this pans out.

Many properties belonging to Yayasan Sabah (YS) has changed hands ever since Musa Aman has been sitting in the top heading the helm.

The Sadong Jaya property changed hands. The former Sabah Bank block now Alliance Bank, this block stretches right up to Sabah Parks office in the Sinsuran area, in Kota Kinabalu, was sold for a song to Musa’s crony. The empty land behind Bank Negara also sold. The McDonald Drive-in SHELL station near the Innoprise Building next to Sabah State Assembly building facing Kingfisher park, also sold to Musa’s own saudara. The land opposite Chartered Bank , now Suria Sabah also sold. The Waterfront land, which was reclaimed, also belonging to Yayasan Sabah, has also been sold. These are just YS properties in Kota Kinabalu, there are a lot more in Sandakan, Lahad Datu and Tawau which has changed hands by just a stroke of Musa’s pen. So much more prime land and landed properties belonging to Yayasan Sabah and Innoprise has been sold to third parties linked to Musa Aman. In my coming article I would give details on how and who these properties were sold to, for a song, to third parties linked to Musa Aman.

Barisan National and  UMNO loyalists in Sabah cannot make moves or comment against Musa Aman as now by fault (not default) he is heading the helm. Due to mistake, passion or compassion, UMNO chose him in critical time 6 years ago. Just due to the existence of Musa Aman,  BN and UMNO’s integrity is on stake. This is a tough time for BN Sabah as unwillingly they have to defend the integrity/legacy of UMNO and consequently Musa Aman. If BN is defeated, it will mean UMNO will be defeated and may lose its existence in Sabah once and for all. UMNO KL knows this and so does Najib.

After Tan Sri Chong Kah Kiat, because of the “rotation system” and perhaps also with a view to gain Muslim votes, UMNO, specifically Pak Lah, agreed to put Musa Aman on the hot seat to lead the  Sabah state government, but afterwards, they realized that they had to carry Musa Aman’s burden of alleged and much publicized corruption and scandals upon them and unwillingly they are doing it.

I know several sincere and honest UMNO Sabah leaders have left the party because they cannot continue living two lives and keep a blot on their conscience but a few close, new and old stickers are still on. They keep on coming over media and keep their all time vague, unjustified, lame stances just to defend Musa Aman but with less than required vigor because they know they are beating around the bushes.

In the broader sense, Sabah BN leaders are defending  Musa Aman because their future political career is related with UMNO Sabah.

Musa Aman becoming the head of UMNO Sabah was an accident and not by design. Or it may be termed as an accident which was caused by design.

KL need to have ‘’stooges’’ or puppets to achieve their bigger plans in Sabah. If a stooge is corrupt and already void of any moral ground by default and specially when he is on a good political hot seat by design, then the task becomes amply simple. Legalize his illicit practices, design an immunity for him to provide him protection from the natural justice, place him on the highest echelon making him untouchable and get your work done. In very tough times of political instability, UMNO as a so called designer of the Malaysian new order, needed a reliable stooge in an important geographically placed state, Sabah, and Musa Aman was the man. He had money, some say close to US$ 3 Billion, he also had close links with Pak Lah and was able to feed the UMNO warlords. But when Najib took over he wanted his own man Shafie Apdal and so Najib decides to get rid of Musa Aman sooner than later by throwing the book at Musa Aman. The casualty is Musa’s Chinese timber cronies.

Various CM’s from Sabah, has done the same thing. Initially, all CM’s including Pairin Kitingan, Tun Mustafa and even Harris Salleh was seemingly tough kids to become a stooge but then due to their fascination with power and money, they made few notable criminal mistakes. And to cloak the mistakes, to get a clean getaway, they all become balllickers or stooges of KL just like what Musa Aman is doing. But this time the balllicking is not working.