Forever Che Guevara!

Posted: October 9, 2017 in Che Guevara, politics
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Monday marks a half-century since the execution of Guevara, the peripatetic Argentine doctor, named Ernesto at birth, who led guerrilla fighters from Cuba to Congo. He stymied the United States during the Bay of Pigs invasion, lectured at a United Nations lectern and preached a new world order dominated by those once marginalized by superpowers.

His towering life was overshadowed only by the myth that emerged with his death. The image of his scruffy beard and starred beret became the calling card of romantic revolutionaries around the world and across generations, seen everywhere from the jungle camps of militants to college dorm rooms.

I salute this hero of my college days!

This is from THE NEW YORK TIMES

Execution Still Haunts Village, 50 Years After Che Guevara’s Death

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A statue of Che Guevara in La Higueira, the Bolivian town where he was killed in 1967. Credit Nadia Shira Cohen for The New York Times

LA HIGUERA, Bolivia — Irma Rosales, tired after decades of tending her tiny store, sat back one morning with a box full of photos and remembered the stranger who was shot in the local schoolhouse 50 years ago.

His hair was long and greasy, she said; his clothes so dirty that they might have belonged to a mechanic. And he said nothing, she recalled, when she brought him a bowl of soup not long before the bullets rang out. Che Guevara was dead.

Monday marks a half-century since the execution of Guevara, the peripatetic Argentine doctor, named Ernesto at birth, who led guerrilla fighters from Cuba to Congo. He stymied the United States during the Bay of Pigs invasion, lectured at a United Nations lectern and preached a new world order dominated by those once marginalized by superpowers.

His towering life was overshadowed only by the myth that emerged with his death. The image of his scruffy beard and starred beret became the calling card of romantic revolutionaries around the world and across generations, seen everywhere from the jungle camps of militants to college dorm rooms.

Continue reading the main story

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Susanna Osinaga Roble, 85, was a nurse at the time of Che Guevara’s death and was ordered by her supervisor to wash his body. Credit Nadia Shira Cohen for The New York Times

Yet the villagers of La Higuera, Bolivia, who lived through that time, tell a story that is far less mythic, describing a short, bloody episode where a forgotten corner of this mountainous countryside briefly became a battleground of the Cold War.

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It was not long after Guevara and the other strangers with him first appeared in the area, promising equality, that the guerrillas were dragged away in pools of their own blood, recalled Ms. Rosales.

“It was torture for us,” she said. “For us, this was a time of suffering.”

As Latin America remembers Guevara’s death, the region also faces a larger reckoning with the same leftist movements that drew on him for inspiration.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the region’s largest remaining guerrilla group, came out of the jungle and gave up its arms this year in a war where no one won but Colombia lost more than 220,000 people.

The Socialist-inspired movement of the late President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela led to gains in education and health care, but the country has sunk into hunger, unrest and dictatorship.

Even Cuba, which for years proudly lived under the revolutionary banner hung by Guevara, now faces an uncertain fate as a détente reached with the United States unravels under the Trump administration.

Bolivia is one of Latin America’s last democracies where leftists remain in control, and it is difficult for political movements to thrive in such a vacuum, one of the country’s leaders said. “You cannot prosper or sustain yourself over time if you do not have the victories and struggles in other places,” said Álvaro García Linera, the vice president of Bolivia.

Jon Lee Anderson, who wrote a biography of Guevara and was key to discovering his remains — they were hidden by soldiers until the 1990s — says both Guevara and the left hit such low points before.

“But Che remains kind of pure,” he said. “An ever-present beacon, the icon. Where will it go in the future? I have this notion that Che comes and goes.”

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The laundry room at the hospital where Che Guevara’s body was displayed to the world. It has been turned into a memorial. Credit Nadia Shira Cohen for The New York Times

A revolutionary vanishes

In the years before his death, Guevara’s whereabouts was a global mystery.

After having overseen the firing squads that followed the Communist victory he helped secure in Cuba, and after a stint running the country’s central bank, Mr. Guevara suddenly vanished in 1965, sent by Fidel Castro to organize revolutions abroad. He was dispatched on a failed mission to Congo, then bounced between safe houses in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Prague.

“Back then, people said he had been killed by Fidel, others that he had died in Santo Domingo, that he was in Vietnam,” said Juan Carlos Salazar, who, in 1967, was a 21-year-old Bolivian reporter about to begin chasing his first major story. “They placed him here, they placed him over there — but no one knew where he was.”

Loyola Guzmán, a Communist youth leader in La Paz, Bolivia’s capital, would be one of the first to learn. She received a message one day calling her to Camiri, a small town near the border of Paraguay. She said she had no idea what the meeting was for.

Ms. Guzmán is 75 now, but a photo in January 1967 shows her in the flush of youth, in fatigues and a field cap, sitting on a log at a sweltering jungle camp — and next to her is Guevara.

“He said he wanted to create ‘two or three Vietnams,’” said Ms. Guzmán, with Bolivia a base for a revolution not only there but in neighboring Argentina and Peru, as well. Ms. Guzmán agreed with the idea and was sent back to the capital to drum up support for the revolutionaries and manage their money.

In March 1967, the battle began.

Mr. Salazar, the journalist, learned later that month that fighting had broken out between the Bolivian army and an armed group, leaving seven soldiers dead. The reporter was dispatched to the area to investigate, but it remained unclear who the militants were — although it was known they were regularly delivering fatal blows to government forces.

Soon afterward, word began to leak out that the ringleader might be Guevara.

The army wanted to find and defeat him. Among journalists, “everyone wanted to interview him,” recalled Mr. Salazar.

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Fog rolling through the mountains on the road to La Higuera. Credit Nadia Shira Cohen for The New York Times

Villagers are wary

While Guevara was known around the world, his fame did little to endear him to Bolivia’s peasants.

And the country had already undergone a revolution the decade before, instituting universal suffrage, land reform and expanded education. During Guevara’s time fighting in Bolivia, not a single peasant was documented to have joined him.

“He didn’t think it through,” said Carlos Mesa, a former president of Bolivia and a historian who was 13 at the time that Mr. Guevara arrived. “He failed because he had to fail.”

Ms. Rosales, the storekeeper who gave Mr. Guevara the bowl of soup after his capture, recalled being stunned one day in La Higuera, shortly before Guevara was killed, when one of his guerrillas, Roberto Peredo, known as “Coco,” walked into the building where she was working and asked to use the phone.

None of the area’s villagers were hoping for such a visit, as the guerrillas did not have a good reputation. All the men of the town had already fled into the hills, fearing the guerrillas would try to draft them as fighters.

“They told us the guerrillas hit the men and raped their wives, took things, and for that reason, no one waited for them to come,” said Ms. Rosales.

The town’s mayor, Ms. Rosales recalled, informed the authorities that the guerrillas had come to town.

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Irma Rosales, a storekeeper, says she gave Mr. Guevara a bowl of soup after his capture. Credit Nadia Shira Cohen for The New York Times

Closing in after costly mistakes

With tips like the one from the mayor, the army started closing in on Guevara and his band of guerrillas.

Among those on the hunt was Gary Prado, then a young officer who had been pursuing Guevara all summer through the mountains.

From his study in the city of Santa Cruz, the retired general, now 78, admitted that the army had hardly been prepared for the start of a guerrilla war on its turf. But it was soon being aided by American training and the arrival of agents from the Central Intelligence Agency, which was eager to see Guevara dead.

Guevara had earned acclaim for his military tactics in Castro’s victory in Cuba, and he wrote a manual, “Guerrilla Warfare,” that is still used as a guide by insurgents around the world. But he was making mistakes in Bolivia, said Mr. Prado: setting up bases that couldn’t be defended, splitting up his forces and leaving behind photos that the soldiers were putting together as clues.

“He was a master of guerrilla war,” said Mr. Prado. “He got here and did everything to the contrary.”

In his last diary entry on Oct. 7, Guevara writes that he ran into an old goatherd, taking her hostage while they asked her about soldiers nearby. “They gave her 50 pesos with instructions not to say a word, but we have little hope she would keep to her promise,” he wrote.

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The schoolhouse where Mr. Guevara was killed is now a museum. Credit Nadia Shira Cohen for The New York Times

‘I am Che Guevara’

On Oct. 8, a firefight began between Bolivian soldiers and a group of fighters.

But this one would end differently than the others, recalled Mr. Prado. As one of the guerrillas surrendered, he called out, “I am Che Guevara, and I’m worth more to you alive than dead.”

Julia Cortés, now 69, remembers as a young woman hearing a firefight in the distance that day as she approached La Higuera, where she taught in the local school.

It was to this school that the army brought the captured Guevara, and the guerrilla fighter could barely speak when Ms. Cortés entered the schoolhouse the next day, Oct. 9. He was muttering a few words about the revolution, she said, the one he was losing.

“They say he was ugly then, but I think he was incredibly beautiful,” she recalled.

Ms. Cortés said she had just returned home when the shots rang out, killing him.

Later that day, Mr. Salazar, the reporter, was back in La Paz covering the trial of another guerrilla, when word reached him of the execution in La Higuera. He rushed back to the region to report on the death, regretting he had missed what he says now “would have been the interview of the century.”

Mr. García Linera, Bolivia’s vice president, was a child that day and remembers seeing Guevara’s image on the front page of Presencia, a Bolivian newspaper, on his grandfather’s bed. “I still can see that photo, his eyes looking up at the sky, all in black-and-white,” he said. “He looked at first just like a regular person, like a homeless man even.”

Ms. Guzmán, Guevara’s fellow guerrilla, had already been taken into custody by the time he was captured. She did not learn about his death until she found the copy of Presencia in a jail bathroom.

In La Higuera after the killing, Ms. Rosales said she remembers seeing Ms. Cortés approaching the schoolhouse to clean up the blood in the classroom.

“There haven’t been classes there since,” Ms. Rosales said of the site, which is now a small museum. “The children didn’t want to go there.”

Continue reading the main story

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The courtyard at the village’s new school is covered in Che Guevara murals. Credit Nadia Shira Cohen for The New York Times
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TUNGSTEN

Posted: September 19, 2017 in North Korea, Tungsten, USA
Tags: ,

North Korea’s economic output might be smaller than Vermont’s, but in the production of one thing the reclusive country recently outpaced the entire United States: tungsten.

Tungsten is a rare-earth metal whose price has surged 50 percent since July.Tungsten has the highest melting point of any metal, at 3,422 degrees Celsius, making it useful in light bulbs.

Smartphone makers need tungsten because it helps withstand electronic heat in touchscreens.

Armed forces need it for its ability to harden the steel used in missiles. Automakers use 25 percent of the global supply for their cutting tools.

Most of the world’s tungsten comes from China, where the government has been exerting greater control over production, in part because domestic demand has ballooned. The country makes more cars than the U.S. and Japan combined.

The U.S. has had concerns about the increasing price of the rare-earth metal since at least the 1960s.A London-trained American-Chinese citizen, K.C. Li, was credited with first trading the mineral in the U.S. His Wah Chang Corporation was established in New York in 1916.

The only other country with good tungsten deposits is Afghanistan. I suppose it is enough reason for the US to hang on in Afghanistan and reach them democracy.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-09-10/china-sends-one-of-the-west-s-most-critical-materials-soaring

Photographer: Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images

China Sends One of the West’s Most Critical Materials Soaring

  • Tungsten prices have jumped 50 percent in the last two months
  • China is enforcing output quotas for the steel-hardening metal

The price of one of the most critical materials for the Western world’s economy and defenses is spiking faster than any major commodity.

Tungsten, used to harden steel in ballistic missiles and in drill bits, has surged more than 50 percent in the last two months amid growing concern about supply cutbacks in China, where about 80 percent of the metal comes from. The country is clamping down on polluting mines and enforcing production quotas.

“The Chinese have been trying to impose control over the production in tungsten,” said Mark Seddon, senior manager at Argus Consulting (Metals). “They’ve used environmental policy to clamp down on non-quota production.”

The price of tungsten in Europe has jumped 52 percent since early July, according to Metal Bulletin Ltd. The advance has beaten all 22 major materials in the Bloomberg Commodities Index. Tungsten has gained for six straight months, the longest rally since 2012.

The European Union classes tungsten as a “critical” commodity and the British Geological Survey places it at the top of its supply-risk list of materials needed to maintain the U.K.’s economy and lifestyle. In 2012, it became a flash point when then U.S. President Barack Obama filed a complaint to the World Trade Organization against Chinese supply curbs.

China limits supply to about 91,300 metric tons a year, but routinely breaks its quota by as much as 50 percent, partly because a lot comes as a byproduct from mines that produce other metals such as molybdenum, Seddon said.

China’s Impact

It seems that tolerance has gone, at least for now. China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology issued an edict on June 6 saying producers should stick to output quotas and that those without quotas, or which exceed the quotas, should halt production. Quotas also shouldn’t be granted to firms that infringe safety or environmental rules.

“The government wants to have control,” said Seddon, who has covered the industry for at least 15 years. “Whether this carries on into next year is more difficult to predict.”

It’s also been a wild year for many other lesser-traded metals. Prices for “light” rare earths including neodymium and praseodymium have also shot up as part of China’s mining clean-up. Battery materials such as cobalt and steel-hardener vanadium have surged, while minor precious metals like ruthenium rallied too.

Read more: Best-performing metals as hard to trade as they are to find

Tungsten, also know as wolfram, gets its name from the Swedish words for heavy stone and was first discovered in 1783. The light gray or whitish metal can be alloyed with steel to form materials that are stable at high temperatures. At more than 3,400 degrees Celsius (6,150 Fahrenheit), it has the highest melting point of any metal on Earth.

The biggest consumer is the auto industry, with about 25 percent of supply predominately used in cutting and machining tools. It’s also used in lighting, steelmaking and mining. Tungsten’s high density means it’s also used in missiles to help them penetrate defenses.


William Dalrymple’s new book, “The Anarchy: How a Corporation Replaced the Mughal Empire, 1756-1803”, will be published next year by Bloomsbury & Knopf—–

A long but very interesting excerpt………

The East India Company: The original corporate raiders

For a century, the East India Company conquered, subjugated and plundered vast tracts of south Asia. The lessons of its brutal reign have never been more relevant

William Dalrymple

One of the very first Indian words to enter the English language was the Hindustani slang for plunder: “loot”. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, this word was rarely heard outside the plains of north India until the late 18th century, when it suddenly became a common term across Britain. To understand how and why it took root and flourished in so distant a landscape, one need only visit Powis Castle.

The last hereditary Welsh prince, Owain Gruffydd ap Gwenwynwyn, built Powis castle as a craggy fort in the 13th century; the estate was his reward for abandoning Wales to the rule of the English monarchy. But its most spectacular treasures date from a much later period of English conquest and appropriation: Powis is simply awash with loot from India, room after room of imperial plunder, extracted by the East India Company in the 18th century.

There are more Mughal artefacts stacked in this private house in the Welsh countryside than are on display at any one place in India – even the National Museum in Delhi. The riches include hookahs of burnished gold inlaid with empurpled ebony; superbly inscribed spinels and jewelled daggers; gleaming rubies the colour of pigeon’s blood and scatterings of lizard-green emeralds. There are talwars set with yellow topaz, ornaments of jade and ivory; silken hangings, statues of Hindu gods and coats of elephant armour.

Such is the dazzle of these treasures that, as a visitor last summer, I nearly missed the huge framed canvas that explains how they came to be here. The picture hangs in the shadows at the top of a dark, oak-panelled staircase. It is not a masterpiece, but it does repay close study. An effete Indian prince, wearing cloth of gold, sits high on his throne under a silken canopy. On his left stand scimitar and spear carrying officers from his own army; to his right, a group of powdered and periwigged Georgian gentlemen. The prince is eagerly thrusting a scroll into the hands of a statesmanlike, slightly overweight Englishman in a red frock coat.

The painting shows a scene from August 1765, when the young Mughal emperor Shah Alam, exiled from Delhi and defeated by East India Company troops, was forced into what we would now call an act of involuntary privatisation. The scroll is an order to dismiss his own Mughal revenue officials in Bengal, Bihar and Orissa, and replace them with a set of English traders appointed by Robert Clive – the new governor of Bengal – and the directors of the EIC, who the document describes as “the high and mighty, the noblest of exalted nobles, the chief of illustrious warriors, our faithful servants and sincere well-wishers, worthy of our royal favours, the English Company”. The collecting of Mughal taxes was henceforth subcontracted to a powerful multinational corporation – whose revenue-collecting operations were protected by its own private army.

It was at this moment that the East India Company (EIC) ceased to be a conventional corporation, trading and silks and spices, and became something much more unusual. Within a few years, 250 company clerks backed by the military force of 20,000 locally recruited Indian soldiers had become the effective rulers of Bengal. An international corporation was transforming itself into an aggressive colonial power.

Using its rapidly growing security force – its army had grown to 260,000 men by 1803 – it swiftly subdued and seized an entire subcontinent. Astonishingly, this took less than half a century. The first serious territorial conquests began in Bengal in 1756; 47 years later, the company’s reach extended as far north as the Mughal capital of Delhi, and almost all of India south of that city was by then effectively ruled from a boardroom in the City of London. “What honour is left to us?” asked a Mughal official named Narayan Singh, shortly after 1765, “when we have to take orders from a handful of traders who have not yet learned to wash their bottoms?”

It was not the British government that seized India, but a private company, run by an unstable sociopath

We still talk about the British conquering India, but that phrase disguises a more sinister reality. It was not the British government that seized India at the end of the 18th century, but a dangerously unregulated private company headquartered in one small office, five windows wide, in London, and managed in India by an unstable sociopath – Clive.

In many ways the EIC was a model of corporate efficiency: 100 years into its history, it had only 35 permanent employees in its head office. Nevertheless, that skeleton staff executed a corporate coup unparalleled in history: the military conquest, subjugation and plunder of vast tracts of southern Asia. It almost certainly remains the supreme act of corporate violence in world history. For all the power wielded today by the world’s largest corporations – whether ExxonMobil, Walmart or Google – they are tame beasts compared with the ravaging territorial appetites of the militarised East India Company. Yet if history shows anything, it is that in the intimate dance between the power of the state and that of the corporation, while the latter can be regulated, it will use all the resources in its power to resist.

When it suited, the EIC made much of its legal separation from the government. It argued forcefully, and successfully, that the document signed by Shah Alam – known as the Diwani – was the legal property of the company, not the Crown, even though the government had spent a massive sum on naval and military operations protecting the EIC’s Indian acquisitions. But the MPs who voted to uphold this legal distinction were not exactly neutral: nearly a quarter of them held company stock, which would have plummeted in value had the Crown taken over. For the same reason, the need to protect the company from foreign competition became a major aim of British foreign policy.

[Robert Clive, was an unstable sociopath who led the fearsome East India Company to its conquest of the subcontinent.Photograph: Hulton Archive/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The transaction depicted in the painting was to have catastrophic consequences. As with all such corporations, then as now, the EIC was answerable only to its shareholders. With no stake in the just governance of the region, or its long-term wellbeing, the company’s rule quickly turned into the straightforward pillage of Bengal, and the rapid transfer westwards of its wealth.]

Before long the province, already devastated by war, was struck down by the famine of 1769, then further ruined by high taxation. Company tax collectors were guilty of what today would be described as human rights violations. A senior official of the old Mughal regime in Bengal wrote in his diaries: “Indians were tortured to disclose their treasure; cities, towns and villages ransacked; jaghires and provinces purloined: these were the ‘delights’ and ‘religions’ of the directors and their servants.”

Bengal’s wealth rapidly drained into Britain, while its prosperous weavers and artisans were coerced “like so many slaves” by their new masters, and its markets flooded with British products. A proportion of the loot of Bengal went directly into Clive’s pocket. He returned to Britain with a personal fortune – then valued at £234,000 – that made him the richest self-made man in Europe. After the Battle of Plassey in 1757, a victory that owed more to treachery, forged contracts, bankers and bribes than military prowess, he transferred to the EIC treasury no less than £2.5m seized from the defeated rulers of Bengal – in today’s currency, around £23m for Clive and £250m for the company.

No great sophistication was required. The entire contents of the Bengal treasury were simply loaded into 100 boats and punted down the Ganges from the Nawab of Bengal’s palace to Fort William, the company’s Calcutta headquarters. A portion of the proceeds was later spent rebuilding Powis.

The painting at Powis that shows the granting of the Diwani is suitably deceptive: the painter, Benjamin West, had never been to India. Even at the time, a reviewer noted that the mosque in the background bore a suspiciously strong resemblance “to our venerable dome of St Paul”. In reality, there had been no grand public ceremony. The transfer took place privately, inside Clive’s tent, which had just been erected on the parade ground of the newly seized Mughal fort at Allahabad. As for Shah Alam’s silken throne, it was in fact Clive’s armchair, which for the occasion had been hoisted on to his dining room table and covered with a chintz bedspread.

Later, the British dignified the document by calling it the Treaty of Allahabad, though Clive had dictated the terms and a terrified Shah Alam had simply waved them through. As the contemporary Mughal historian Sayyid Ghulam Husain Khan put it: “A business of such magnitude, as left neither pretence nor subterfuge, and which at any other time would have required the sending of wise ambassadors and able negotiators, as well as much parley and conference with the East India Company and the King of England, and much negotiation and contention with the ministers, was done and finished in less time than would usually have been taken up for the sale of a jack-ass, or a beast of burden, or a head of cattle.”

By the time the original painting was shown at the Royal Academy in 1795, however, no Englishman who had witnessed the scene was alive to point this out. Clive, hounded by envious parliamentary colleagues and widely reviled for corruption, committed suicide in 1774 by slitting his own throat with a paperknife some months before the canvas was completed. He was buried in secret, on a frosty November night, in an unmarked vault in the Shropshire village of Morton Say. Many years ago, workmen digging up the parquet floor came across Clive’s bones, and after some discussion it was decided to quietly put them to rest again where they lay. Here they remain, marked today by a small, discreet wall plaque inscribed: “PRIMUS IN INDIS.”

Today, as the company’s most articulate recent critic, Nick Robins, has pointed out, the site of the company’s headquarters in Leadenhall Street lies underneath Richard Rogers’s glass and metal Lloyd’s building. Unlike Clive’s burial place, no blue plaque marks the site of what Macaulay called “the greatest corporation in the world”, and certainly the only one to equal the Mughals by seizing political power across wide swaths of south Asia. But anyone seeking a monument to the company’s legacy need only look around. No contemporary corporation could duplicate its brutality, but many have attempted to match its success at bending state power to their own ends.

The people of Allahabad have also chosen to forget this episode in their history. The red sandstone Mughal fort where the treaty was extracted from Shah Alam – a much larger fort than those visited by tourists in Lahore, Agra or Delhi – is still a closed-off military zone and, when I visited it late last year, neither the guards at the gate nor their officers knew anything of the events that had taken place there; none of the sentries had even heard of the company whose cannons still dot the parade ground where Clive’s tent was erected.

Instead, all their conversation was focused firmly on the future, and the reception India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, had just received on his trip to America. One of the guards proudly showed me the headlines in the local edition of the Times of India, announcing that Allahabad had been among the subjects discussed in the White House by Modi and President Obama. The sentries were optimistic. India was finally coming back into its own, they said, “after 800 years of slavery”. The Mughals, the EIC and the Raj had all receded into memory and Allahabad was now going to be part of India’s resurrection. “Soon we will be a great country,” said one of the sentries, “and our Allahabad also will be a great city.”

***

At the height of the Victorian period there was a strong sense of embarrassment about the shady mercantile way the British had founded the Raj. The Victorians thought the real stuff of history was the politics of the nation state. This, not the economics of corrupt corporations, they believed was the fundamental unit of analysis and the major driver of change in human affairs. Moreover, they liked to think of the empire as a mission civilisatrice: a benign national transfer of knowledge, railways and the arts of civilisation from west to east, and there was a calculated and deliberate amnesia about the corporate looting that opened British rule in India.

A second picture, this one commissioned to hang in the House of Commons, shows how the official memory of this process was spun and subtly reworked. It hangs now in St Stephen’s Hall, the echoing reception area of parliament. I came across it by chance late this summer, while waiting there to see an MP.

The painting was part of a series of murals entitled the Building of Britain. It features what the hanging committee at the time regarded as the highlights and turning points of British history: King Alfred defeating the Danes in 877, the parliamentary union of England and Scotland in 1707, and so on. The image in this series which deals with India does not, however, show the handing over of the Diwani but an earlier scene, where again a Mughal prince is sitting on a raised dais, under a canopy. Again, we are in a court setting, with bowing attendants on all sides and trumpets blowing, and again an Englishman is standing in front of the Mughal. But this time the balance of power is very different.

Sir Thomas Roe, the ambassador sent by James I to the Mughal court, is shown appearing before the Emperor Jahangir in 1614 – at a time when the Mughal empire was still at its richest and most powerful. Jahangir inherited from his father Akbar one of the two wealthiest polities in the world, rivalled only by Ming China. His lands stretched through most of India, all of what is now Pakistan and Bangladesh, and most of Afghanistan. He ruled over five times the population commanded by the Ottomans – roughly 100 million people. His capitals were the megacities of their day.

In Milton’s Paradise Lost, the great Mughal cities of Jahangir’s India are shown to Adam as future marvels of divine design. This was no understatement: Agra, with a population approaching 700,000, dwarfed all of the cities of Europe, while Lahore was larger than London, Paris, Lisbon, Madrid and Rome combined. This was a time when India accounted for around a quarter of all global manufacturing. In contrast, Britain then contributed less than 2% to global GDP, and the East India Company was so small that it was still operating from the home of its governor, Sir Thomas Smythe, with a permanent staff of only six. It did, however, already possess 30 tall ships and own its own dockyard at Deptford on the Thames.

Jahangir’s father Akbar had flirted with a project to civilise India’s European immigrants, whom he described as “an assemblage of savages”, but later dropped the plan as unworkable. Jahangir, who had a taste for exotica and wild beasts, welcomed Sir Thomas Roe with the same enthusiasm he had shown for the arrival of the first turkey in India, and questioned Roe closely on the distant, foggy island he came from, and the strange things that went on there.

For the committee who planned the House of Commons paintings, this marked the beginning of British engagement with India: two nation states coming into direct contact for the first time. Yet, in reality, British relations with India began not with diplomacy and the meeting of envoys, but with trade. On 24 September, 1599, 80 merchants and adventurers met at the Founders Hall in the City of London and agreed to petition Queen Elizabeth I to start up a company. A year later, the Governor and Company of Merchants trading to the East Indies, a group of 218 men, received a royal charter, giving them a monopoly for 15 years over “trade to the East”.

The charter authorised the setting up of what was then a radical new type of business: not a family partnership – until then the norm over most of the globe – but a joint-stock company that could issue tradeable shares on the open market to any number of investors, a mechanism capable of realising much larger amounts of capital. The first chartered joint-stock company was the Muscovy Company, which received its charter in 1555. The East India Company was founded 44 years later. No mention was made in the charter of the EIC holding overseas territory, but it did give the company the right “to wage war” where necessary.

Six years before Roe’s expedition, on 28 August 1608, William Hawkins had landed at Surat, the first commander of a company vessel to set foot on Indian soil. Hawkins, a bibulous sea dog, made his way to Agra, where he accepted a wife offered to him by the emperor, and brought her back to England. This was a version of history the House of Commons hanging committee chose to forget.

The rapid rise of the East India Company was made possible by the catastrophically rapid decline of the Mughals during the 18th century. As late as 1739, when Clive was only 14 years old, the Mughals still ruled a vast empire that stretched from Kabul to Madras. But in that year, the Persian adventurer Nadir Shah descended the Khyber Pass with 150,000 of his cavalry and defeated a Mughal army of 1.5 million men. Three months later, Nadir Shah returned to Persia carrying the pick of the treasures the Mughal empire had amassed in its 200 years of conquest: a caravan of riches that included Shah Jahan’s magnificent peacock throne, the Koh-i-Noor, the largest diamond in the world, as well as its “sister”, the Darya Nur, and “700 elephants, 4,000 camels and 12,000 horses carrying wagons all laden with gold, silver and precious stones”, worth an estimated £87.5m in the currency of the time. This haul was many times more valuable than that later extracted by Clive from the peripheral province of Bengal.

The destruction of Mughal power by Nadir Shah, and his removal of the funds that had financed it, quickly led to the disintegration of the empire. That same year, the French Compagnie des Indes began minting its own coins, and soon, without anyone to stop them, both the French and the English were drilling their own sepoys and militarising their operations. Before long the EIC was straddling the globe. Almost single-handedly, it reversed the balance of trade, which from Roman times on had led to a continual drain of western bullion eastwards. The EIC ferried opium to China, and in due course fought the opium wars in order to seize an offshore base at Hong Kong and safeguard its profitable monopoly in narcotics. To the west it shipped Chinese tea to Massachusetts, where its dumping in Boston harbour triggered the American war of independence.

By 1803, when the EIC captured the Mughal capital of Delhi, it had trained up a private security force of around 260,000- twice the size of the British army – and marshalled more firepower than any nation state in Asia. It was “an empire within an empire”, as one of its directors admitted. It had also by this stage created a vast and sophisticated administration and civil service, built much of London’s docklands and come close to generating nearly half of Britain’s trade. No wonder that the EIC now referred to itself as “the grandest society of merchants in the Universe”.

Yet, like more recent mega-corporations, the EIC proved at once hugely powerful and oddly vulnerable to economic uncertainty. Only seven years after the granting of the Diwani, when the company’s share price had doubled overnight after it acquired the wealth of the treasury of Bengal, the East India bubble burst after plunder and famine in Bengal led to massive shortfalls in expected land revenues. The EIC was left with debts of £1.5m and a bill of £1m unpaid tax owed to the Crown. When knowledge of this became public, 30 banks collapsed like dominoes across Europe, bringing trade to a standstill.

In a scene that seems horribly familiar to us today, this hyper-aggressive corporation had to come clean and ask for a massive government bailout. On 15 July 1772, the directors of the East India Company applied to the Bank of England for a loan of £400,000. A fortnight later, they returned, asking for an additional £300,000. The bank raised only £200,000. By August, the directors were whispering to the government that they would actually need an unprecedented sum of a further £1m. The official report the following year, written by Edmund Burke, foresaw that the EIC’s financial problems could potentially “like a mill-stone, drag [the government] down into an unfathomable abyss … This cursed Company would, at last, like a viper, be the destruction of the country which fostered it at its bosom.”

The East India Company really was too big to fail. So it was that in 1773 it was saved by history’s first mega-bailout

But unlike Lehman Brothers, the East India Company really was too big to fail. So it was that in 1773, the world’s first aggressive multinational corporation was saved by history’s first mega-bailout – the first example of a nation state extracting, as its price for saving a failing corporation, the right to regulate and severely rein it in.

***

In Allahabad, I hired a small dinghy from beneath the fort’s walls and asked the boatman to row me upstream. It was that beautiful moment, an hour before sunset, that north Indians call godhulibela – cow-dust time – and the Yamuna glittered in the evening light as brightly as any of the gems of Powis. Egrets picked their way along the banks, past pilgrims taking a dip near the auspicious point of confluence, where the Yamuna meets the Ganges. Ranks of little boys with fishing lines stood among the holy men and the pilgrims, engaged in the less mystical task of trying to hook catfish. Parakeets swooped out of cavities in the battlements, mynahs called to roost.

For 40 minutes we drifted slowly, the water gently lapping against the sides of the boat, past the mile-long succession of mighty towers and projecting bastions of the fort, each decorated with superb Mughal kiosks, lattices and finials. It seemed impossible that a single London corporation, however ruthless and aggressive, could have conquered an empire that was so magnificently strong, so confident in its own strength and brilliance and effortless sense of beauty.

Historians propose many reasons: the fracturing of Mughal India into tiny, competing states; the military edge that the industrial revolution had given the European powers. But perhaps most crucial was the support that the East India Company enjoyed from the British parliament. The relationship between them grew steadily more symbiotic throughout the 18th century. Returned nabobs like Clive used their wealth to buy both MPs and parliamentary seats – the famous Rotten Boroughs. In turn, parliament backed the company with state power: the ships and soldiers that were needed when the French and British East India Companies trained their guns on each other.

As I drifted on past the fort walls, I thought about the nexus between corporations and politicians in India today – which has delivered individual fortunes to rival those amassed by Clive and his fellow company directors. The country today has 6.9% of the world’s thousand or so billionaires, though its gross domestic product is only 2.1% of world GDP. The total wealth of India’s billionaires is equivalent to around 10% of the nation’s GDP – while the comparable ratio for China’s billionaires is less than 3%. More importantly, many of these fortunes have been created by manipulating state power – using political influence to secure rights to land and minerals, “flexibility” in regulation, and protection from foreign competition.

Multinationals still have villainous reputations in India, and with good reason; the many thousands of dead and injured in the Bhopal gas disaster of 1984 cannot be easily forgotten; the gas plant’s owner, the American multinational, Union Carbide, has managed to avoid prosecution or the payment of any meaningful compensation in the 30 years since. But the biggest Indian corporations, such as Reliance, Tata, DLF and Adani have shown themselves far more skilled than their foreign competitors in influencing Indian policymakers and the media. Reliance is now India’s biggest media company, as well as its biggest conglomerate; its owner, Mukesh Ambani, has unprecedented political access and power.

The last five years of India’s Congress party government were marked by a succession of corruption scandals that ranged from land and mineral giveaways to the corrupt sale of mobile phone spectrum at a fraction of its value. The consequent public disgust was the principal reason for the Congress party’s catastrophic defeat in the general election last May, though the country’s crony capitalists are unlikely to suffer as a result.

Estimated to have cost $4.9bn – perhaps the second most expensive ballot in democratic history after the US presidential election in 2012 – it brought Narendra Modi to power on a tidal wave of corporate donations. Exact figures are hard to come by, but Modi’s Bharatiya Janata party (BJP), is estimated to have spent at least $1bn on print and broadcast advertising alone. Of these donations, around 90% comes from unlisted corporate sources, given in return for who knows what undeclared promises of access and favours. The sheer strength of Modi’s new government means that those corporate backers may not be able to extract all they had hoped for, but there will certainly be rewards for the money donated.

In September, the governor of India’s central bank, Raghuram Rajan, made a speech in Mumbai expressing his anxieties about corporate money eroding the integrity of parliament: “Even as our democracy and our economy have become more vibrant,” he said, “an important issue in the recent election was whether we had substituted the crony socialism of the past with crony capitalism, where the rich and the influential are alleged to have received land, natural resources and spectrum in return for payoffs to venal politicians. By killing transparency and competition, crony capitalism is harmful to free enterprise, and economic growth. And by substituting special interests for the public interest, it is harmful to democratic expression.”

His anxieties were remarkably like those expressed in Britain more than 200 years earlier, when the East India Company had become synonymous with ostentatious wealth and political corruption: “What is England now?” fumed the Whig litterateur Horace Walpole, “A sink of Indian wealth.” In 1767 the company bought off parliamentary opposition by donating £400,000 to the Crown in return for its continued right to govern Bengal. But the anger against it finally reached ignition point on 13 February 1788, at the impeachment, for looting and corruption, of Clive’s successor as governor of Bengal, Warren Hastings. It was the nearest the British ever got to putting the EIC on trial, and they did so with one of their greatest orators at the helm – Edmund Burke.

Burke, leading the prosecution, railed against the way the returned company “nabobs” (or “nobs”, both corruptions of the Urdu word “Nawab”) were buying parliamentary influence, not just by bribing MPs to vote for their interests, but by corruptly using their Indian plunder to bribe their way into parliamentary office: “To-day the Commons of Great Britain prosecutes the delinquents of India,” thundered Burke, referring to the returned nabobs. “Tomorrow these delinquents of India may be the Commons of Great Britain.”

Burke thus correctly identified what remains today one of the great anxieties of modern liberal democracies: the ability of a ruthless corporation corruptly to buy a legislature. And just as corporations now recruit retired politicians in order to exploit their establishment contacts and use their influence, so did the East India Company. So it was, for example, that Lord Cornwallis, the man who oversaw the loss of the American colonies to Washington, was recruited by the EIC to oversee its Indian territories. As one observer wrote: “Of all human conditions, perhaps the most brilliant and at the same time the most anomalous, is that of the Governor General of British India. A private English gentleman, and the servant of a joint-stock company, during the brief period of his government he is the deputed sovereign of the greatest empire in the world; the ruler of a hundred million men; while dependant kings and princes bow down to him with a deferential awe and submission. There is nothing in history analogous to this position …”

Hastings survived his impeachment, but parliament did finally remove the EIC from power following the great Indian Uprising of 1857, some 90 years after the granting of the Diwani and 60 years after Hastings’s own trial. On 10 May 1857, the EIC’s own security forces rose up against their employer and on successfully crushing the insurgency, after nine uncertain months, the company distinguished itself for a final time by hanging and murdering tens of thousands of suspected rebels in the bazaar towns that lined the Ganges – probably the most bloody episode in the entire history of British colonialism.

Enough was enough. The same parliament that had done so much to enable the EIC to rise to unprecedented power, finally gobbled up its own baby. The British state, alerted to the dangers posed by corporate greed and incompetence, successfully tamed history’s most voracious corporation. In 1859, it was again within the walls of Allahabad Fort that the governor general, Lord Canning, formally announced that the company’s Indian possessions would be nationalised and pass into the control of the British Crown. Queen Victoria, rather than the directors of the EIC would henceforth be ruler of India.

The East India Company limped on in its amputated form for another 15 years, finally shutting down in 1874. Its brand name is now owned by a Gujarati businessman who uses it to sell “condiments and fine foods” from a showroom in London’s West End. Meanwhile, in a nice piece of historical and karmic symmetry, the current occupant of Powis Castle is married to a Bengali woman and photographs of a very Indian wedding were proudly on show in the Powis tearoom. This means that Clive’s descendants and inheritors will be half-Indian.

***

Today we are back to a world that would be familiar to Sir Thomas Roe, where the wealth of the west has begun again to drain eastwards, in the way it did from Roman times until the birth of the East India Company. When a British prime minister (or French president) visits India, he no longer comes as Clive did, to dictate terms. In fact, negotiation of any kind has passed from the agenda. Like Roe, he comes as a supplicant begging for business, and with him come the CEOs of his country’s biggest corporations.

The idea of the joint-stock company is arguably one of Britain’s most important exports to India

For the corporation – a revolutionary European invention contemporaneous with the beginnings of European colonialism, and which helped give Europe its competitive edge – has continued to thrive long after the collapse of European imperialism. When historians discuss the legacy of British colonialism in India, they usually mention democracy, the rule of law, railways, tea and cricket. Yet the idea of the joint-stock company is arguably one of Britain’s most important exports to India, and the one that has for better or worse changed South Asia as much any other European idea. Its influence certainly outweighs that of communism and Protestant Christianity, and possibly even that of democracy.

Companies and corporations now occupy the time and energy of more Indians than any institution other than the family. This should come as no surprise: as Ira Jackson, the former director of Harvard’s Centre for Business and Government, recently noted, corporations and their leaders have today “displaced politics and politicians as … the new high priests and oligarchs of our system”. Covertly, companies still govern the lives of a significant proportion of the human race.

The 300-year-old question of how to cope with the power and perils of large multinational corporations remains today without a clear answer: it is not clear how a nation state can adequately protect itself and its citizens from corporate excess. As the international subprime bubble and bank collapses of 2007-2009 have so recently demonstrated, just as corporations can shape the destiny of nations, they can also drag down their economies. In all, US and European banks lost more than $1tn on toxic assets from January 2007 to September 2009. What Burke feared the East India Company would do to England in 1772 actually happened to Iceland in 2008-11, when the systemic collapse of all three of the country’s major privately owned commercial banks brought the country to the brink of complete bankruptcy. A powerful corporation can still overwhelm or subvert a state every bit as effectively as the East India Company did in Bengal in 1765.

Corporate influence, with its fatal mix of power, money and unaccountability, is particularly potent and dangerous in frail states where corporations are insufficiently or ineffectually regulated, and where the purchasing power of a large company can outbid or overwhelm an underfunded government. This would seem to have been the case under the Congress government that ruled India until last year. Yet as we have seen in London, media organisations can still bend under the influence of corporations such as HSBC – while Sir Malcolm Rifkind’s boast about opening British embassies for the benefit of Chinese firms shows that the nexus between business and politics is as tight as it has ever been.

The East India Company no longer exists, and it has, thankfully, no exact modern equivalent. Walmart, which is the world’s largest corporation in revenue terms, does not number among its assets a fleet of nuclear submarines; neither Facebook nor Shell possesses regiments of infantry. Yet the East India Company – the first great multinational corporation, and the first to run amok – was the ultimate model for many of today’s joint-stock corporations. The most powerful among them do not need their own armies: they can rely on governments to protect their interests and bail them out. The East India Company remains history’s most terrifying warning about the potential for the abuse of corporate power – and the insidious means by which the interests of shareholders become those of the state. Three hundred and fifteen years after its founding, its story has never been more current.

William Dalrymple’s new book, The Anarchy: How a Corporation Replaced the Mughal Empire, 1756-1803, will be published next year by Bloomsbury & Knopf

Follow the Long Read on Twitter: @gdnlongread


A little tit-bit for all you Bob Marley fans out there.

Today is the 130th anniversary of the birth of Marcus Garvey, above, a founder of the black nationalist movement and the Rastafari prophet. Born in Jamaica, Garvey throughout his life advocated for black people to return to Africa and reclaim it as their own.“He was the first man to give Negroes a sense of dignity and destiny,” the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said at Garvey’s funeral in 1965.

But in preaching his message, Garvey unintentionally spawned a religion when he said: “Look to Africa, when a black king shall be crowned, for the day of deliverance is near.”

In 1930, Ras Tafari Makonnen — known thereafter as Haile Selassie — ascended to Ethiopia’s throne, which was taken as a fulfillment of Garvey’s words. Rastafarians immediately hailed Selassie as Jah, the Black Messiah. Garvey was not a follower himself, but Rastafari spread across the globe several decades later with the help of reggae musicians, most prominently Bob Marley.

Selassie died in 1975, in detention after the Dirgue led by Mengistu Haile Mariam toppled his regime. But Rastafarians remained convinced he was the living God. As Marley explained in an interview with The Times in 1977, “Many people, dey scoffers.”“How can God die, mon?” Marley continued. “That’s why I wrote ‘Jah Live.’ ”

NYT Evan Gershkovich contributed reporting.


Do you remember when Yong Teck Lee, Shafie Apdal and Joseph Ambrose Lee were partners in crime, trying to take over the RM30-billion timber wealth of Yayasan Sabah through share-swap, when Yong Teck Lee himself was Sabah chief Minister and Shafie Apdal was Director of Yayasan Sabah?

Well, I do.

The year was 1996, and it was called The ICBS-NBT controversy. It began when North Borneo Timber Berhad (NBT) was said to have attempted to gain control over Sabah Softwoods Sdn Bhd (SSSB) and Rakyat Berjaya Sdn Bhd (RBSB) involving the selling of 60 per cent equities of Innoprise Corporation Sdn Bhd (ICSB), a subsidiary of the Sabah Foundation. The proposed control over SSSB and RBSB would mean giving away 150,000 acres of Sabah Foundation lands to certain individuals while the taking over of RBSB would mean surrendering 247,000 acres of its timber concession to NBT. NBT had offered below market price for the Sabah Foundation subsidiaries. SSSB was offered RM200 million although 60 per cent of its interest proposed for takeover by NBT was RM765 million. RBSB’s 104,000 hectares of concessions was valued at RM2.5 billion but was only offered RM100 million by NBT. Shafie, who was then Chairman of North Borneo Timber Berhad (NBT) and Sabah Umno Youth Chief, had attempted to place the shares and equities of Innoprise Corporation Sdn Bhd (ICSB), a subsidiary of Sabah Foundation, in a public listed company.

Like it or not, it was Musa Aman, the then state finance minister, who rejected this share-swap deal, saving Yayasan Sabah from a pending doom.

Obviously for a very long time Shafie Apdal has had ideas of grandeur of being the top dog, for sure, and I see it as envy forming due to Musa’s many achievements which has catapulted Sabah to the top position among the States in Malaysia.

It is wrong to say that Sabah has registered improvement in one or two areas. In fact there is no area in which Sabah has not progressed. Education, law and order, good environmental practices, forest protection, clean water supply, electricity, agriculture, industrial progress, urban development, rural development, exports, tourism, RCI on Sabah’s illegal immigrant problem, increase for oil royalty, revision of State Rights under the Malaysia Agreement 1963, the list goes on – however you look at it, Sabah attracts keen attention in every area, registering surpluses throughout. But Sabah is not satisfied with these achievements . It is not resting on its laurels but is focusing on earning more surpluses. The reason for this attitude is that Sabah does not think only about itself. It thinks for the whole of Malaysia. Sabah is the locomotive engine of Malaysia and continuously contributes to Malaysia’s growth.

When Sabah attained independence in 1963, Malaysia was born. Right from independence in 1963 to 1985, Alliance- Barisan National ruled Sabah. After 1985, Datuk Harris Salleh was defeated, Pairin Kitingan from Party Bersatu Sabah became the Chief Minister. But even at that time Sabah was ruled by the Barisan National until 1986 when PBS pulled out from BN. In 1994, BN wrested control of the power from PBS when Lajim defected from Parti Bersatu Sabah which won the Sabah election, and his action opened a floodgate of defections from PBS and saw the collapse of Pairin’s PBS government. Sakaran Dandai became the first Umno Chief Minister in Sabah in 1994.

In 2003, Musa Aman was appointed chief minister and faced crisis after crisis upon assuming office. First the state treasury was nearly negative, Yayasan Sabah was on the verge of going bust, state agency were negative and the financial situation of the state was in shambles. But Musa Aman had to prudently turned around the mess he inherited. In 2004, he faced assembly elections and captured more seats than in 1999 and became the Chief Minister again. Once more in 2008, he soared with a thumping victory, winning 59 out of the 60 state seats. And for the 2013 elections, Musa rose to the top with a two-thirds majority in the state assembly, thus the title as the longest serving Chief Minister of Sabah. Musa Aman is facing elections again which is expected within the next nine months.

Sabah registered remarkable progress in the last fourteen years of Musa Aman’s rule. Nobody including his opponents can deny this.

Under him, a special report by the state government on the restoration of state rights and devolution of powers under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 has been given to Putrajaya. The state cabinet had put forward its claims for a review of the special federal monetary grants, mandatory every five years under Article 112D of the Federal Constitution. Musa is pushing hard for the restoration of state rights and devolution of powers particularly Sabah’s revenue rights, Sabah’s rights in the Federal Constitution, Malaysia Act and Malaysia Agreement 1963, as well as the Intergovernmental Committee Report.

And in the Auditor-General’s Report for 2016, the financial management of 31 Sabah state ministries, departments and agencies had received an overall “Very Good” rating based on the accountability index. Sabah has even earned praises from Auditor-General for demonstrating sound financial management and for maintaining its record and prudent handling of its finances over the last 12 years. One hundred and six departments and agencies were audited last year and each showed that its financial management was at a very good level. This places Sabah among the best states in Malaysia in terms of accountability and financial management efficiency. This has given Sabah a positive image as it proves that the state has succeeded in managing its resources well, efficiently and in an orderly manner. The auditor-general’s positive assessment should erase the allegations from certain quarters, who always question the state government’s capability and efficiency in managing its finances. In fact, the auditor-general was so impressed with Sabah’s financial management that she wants it to be a role model for other states.

Even Moody International, has certified the Sabah government for efficient and proper budget management for three years running and has given it a triple-A rating for its finances.

Sabah had suffered many a human crises in the past and the lack of good and safe drinking water would be an example of such an issue. Due to this, dry taps were a norm often in the past. In the kampungs especially, women and children had to walk very far to fetch drinking water to their homes. There was also a scarcity of electricity and even the quality of electricity supplied was not up to the mark. Road facilities were not adequate and their quality was also not sound. But under Musa Aman, all these defects faded away in the last ten years. Now there are separate facilities for ground water and drinking water, keeping many a deadly diseases at bay.

Power shortages still happens occasionally throughout Sabah but it has improved tremendously from the past changing the way Sabahans live. Now in most towns electricity is supplied for 24 hours a day. Electricity is supplied for agriculture through a separate feeder. What is even more praiseworthy is that the electricity is available with good quality. No longer do Sabahans purchase stabilizers along with their television or refrigerators.

Sabah has registered remarkable progress in education as well. Native children and girls are attending school and receiving proper education at an increasing number. Sabah’s poverty rate stood at 4.1% as of 2014, down from 23.4% in 2004. For this year alone, the state has allocated RM394.93 million for poverty eradication programmes in its budget and set itself a target of achieving 1% poverty rate by 2020, at the end of the five-year 11th Malaysia Plan.

Even tourism is booming. 2016 was best year for Sabah tourism. Tourists arrival was all time high at 3,427,908 and tourism receipts was a whopping RM7.25billion.

Now you ask: How were all these feats achieved? It is simply Musa Aman’s focus and dedication. After reading the above facts, I think one can understand the reason for Shafie Apdal’s jealousy. Even though Shafie Apdal was MP for Semporna for 4 full terms since 1995, he has done hardly anything to improve the livelihood of the Semporna folks despite receiving a huge budget from his Rural Ministry. His achievements pale into insignificance compared to that of Musa Aman’s.

There are over 3 million people living in Sabah, forming 10% of Malaysian population. Sabah has an area of 73620 sq km. This is 60% of total land surface of Peninsular Malaysia. In oil palm production alone, Sabah’s share is 40%, and Sabah contributes in addition to that 25% in cocoa production, 27% in rubber production, 40% in natural gas, 55% in petroleum, 70% in tiger prawns production about 9000 metric tons, 60% in ginger production and 35% in cabbage production.

Even the Totally Protected Forest (TPAs) – now covers over 1.5 million hectares of the land area or some 22% of Sabah. The government policy has been launched to achieve 30% TPAs by 2025 or 2030 at the latest or over 2.2. million hectares of Sabah. Which state in Malaysia has set aside 22% of TPAs including rich agricultural lands and virgin forests at high opportunity costs? Only Sabah under Musa Aman!

The child-like rants and casual ridicule by the opposition Parti Warisan Sabah — Musa a failed leader, and so on — has only portrayed lack of imagination and vision of the Opposition. Occasional murmurs of a ‘united opposition’ to take on Musa in 2018 does little to challenge his rising stature and appeal, which shows no sign of abating.

I guess now the question ‘What Musa Aman did for Sabah?’ stands well answered. Quite contrary to the skeptics who are of the opinion that, it is Aladdin with his Magic Lamp who is responsible for the Sabah of the present day, the fact remains that the man behind the success story of Sabah is Musa Aman. Musa’s return to power thrice, marked by landslide victories proves beyond doubt the contribution of Musa in creating the exemplary Sabah of today and also underlines the unshakeable faith that the population of Sabah has in Musa Aman.


by Barnard Law Collier, Former New York Times Bureau Chief in Buenos Aires.

Yes. The young Donald Trump.

When I met him on occasion as a reporter, he was in his mid-20s, well dressed, handsome, semi-brilliant, the son of a well-to-do real estate developer. He displayed a natural curiosity about anything and anyone who could help him show his overbearing father how he, “Junior,” could erect buildings and amass a fortune in the family enterprise.

The young Donald hung like a rock groupie on every word that a hotshot lawyer named Roy Marcus Cohn spoke. The lessons he learned from Roy Cohn (and which I was party to at various steakhouse-ish venues around midtown) were ones that Trump has clung to all of his life since.

The core Roy Cohn commandment:

“Don’t tell me about the law, tell me about the judge.”

Immorality was defined in the Roy Cohn/Trump realms as doing anything not of direct personal benefit to oneself or one’s “satellites.” It was considered “stupid” if adversaries would not do dirty tricks because of “morality.” Roy Cohn taught that it was anti-business to allow one’s money-making activities to be hampered by any “moral” concept, including any bias against malicious lying, cheating, framing, and stealing.

Roy Cohn was supremely brilliant. He graduated Columbia University School of Law at age 20. He guided the shameless un-American activities and anti-homosexual “witch hunts” by Senator Joseph McCarthy. As attorney for several top Italian mob guys, Roy Cohn made both prosecutors and judges terribly uneasy. His opponents were met by the lowest, meanest, and dirtiest possible counters. His tactics were the talk of those New York real estate people who cared a wit about “the law” and ethics, much less morality.

Trump was then, as he is now, referred to by business people who knew him and his operations as “a noisy pipsqueak.”

Mark Cuban, a contemporary billionaire investor and television celebrity, has asked:

“If he was such a good businessman, where are the hundreds and thousands of people who will come out an say they made money with him?”

They seem not to exist, although many people who were stiffed and conned by Trump do.

By the time he was in his 40s, everyone who counted in New York and New Jersey real estate and banking were aware that the only persons to benefit from a Trump deal was Trump.

Nonetheless, an array of politicians from the major parties begged him for donations, including the Clintons. That’s how Trump got to know the fixers and the judges.

Trump’s ghosted book about the “art” of the deal was itself a scam. There was no art.

His artless point is that to be honest or scrupulous about a business deal (or any deal) is for suckers. To stick it to anyone stupid enough to be stuck is “smart,” and that includes any and all governments.

It was Roy Cohn’s advice to die, as Roy Cohn would die, owing millions of dollars in taxes to the Internal Revenue Service. Currently the public does not know how well Trump may carry out that advice.

Most important, taught Roy Cohn, is to obtain a sharp lawyer, take your adversaries to court at every opportunity, accuse the opponents of doing what you yourself are guilty of, and fight ferociously on all fronts to protect your lies.

In Roy Cohn’s alternative world, the “lie” was the alternative truth, and the real truth, such as the fact that Roy Cohn was dying of a new and deadly disease called AIDS, was a “truth” he denied until his dying day, but the autopsy proved that complications from AIDS are what actually killed him. His death came only months after he was disbarred in 1986 by a five-judge panel of the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court for unethical, unprofessional conduct, including misappropriation of clients’ funds, lying on a bar application, and pressuring a client to amend his will by guiding the hand of a nearly comatose millionaire to put his signature on a will that favored Roy Cohn’s client.

By the time Trump was in his 40s, his working motto became:

“Overpromise, underdeliver, keep the difference.”

There may be no more pithy definition of a scam.

Later in his career he ran into a hard problem he could not solve: His funding among most American banks dried up after several real estate gambles came up snake eyes. However, he found, the Russians do business almost exactly as Trump does.

But Trump is shrewd enough to know, going in, that if you try to scam the Russians, and they catch you, as they inevitably will, they will ruthlessly assassinate you or those you may love, no matter how rich and important you may think you are. (A lot of dead Russians testify to this caution.)

If you or your businesses borrow money from the Russians, there is going to be a payback.

It’s time to face it: The Russians have grabbed Donald Trump by the knurled noil and they know how to shake him.

He’s never had qualms about lying (he has often called it “natural exuberance”), quite probably to himself; a “lie detector” test may prove only that Trump is so expert at lying for a lifetime that his pulse, perspiration, respiration, and pupil size doesn’t budge a micron when he lets loose a mendacious whopper.

It’s time, in my opinion, for all Americans at least to admit and to deal with the fact that the Russians have landed themselves a whopper of a pipsqueak scam artist.

To Russians, more than a few of whom play high level chess, Trump might well represent the “passed pawn”проходная пешка. In slang, the term may also mean “an enterprise likely to bring in gold.”

The pawn is the most minor piece in chess (a pipsqueak). But, when allowed to pass behind the defenses of opponent pawns, the passed pawn has an unobstructed line to the eighth rank, where it can be promoted to a queen, a bishop, a knight, or a rook.

A passed pawn requires an opponent to defend against it, which requires the employment of major pieces which otherwise might be used as attackers.

The Russians may quite literally be “laughing at us” (as Trump has said) because Vladimir Putin has promoted his passed pawn into a golden queen, which would have made Roy Cohn laugh, too.


May 25, 2017― Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad lamented today over the sale of a 49.9 per cent stake in Malaysia’s national carmaker Proton, once the country’s source of pride, to Chinese automaker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group.

The former prime minister, who had founded Proton Holdings in 1983 in a bid to turn Malaysia into an industrialised powerhouse, said he could not be proud of Proton’s future success because it would no longer belong to him or to Malaysia.

“I am a sissy. I cry even if Malaysians are dry-eyed. My child is lost. And soon my country. Please excuse me,” Dr Mahathir wrote on his blog.

“Proton the child of my brain has been sold. It is probably the beginning of the great sell-out. The process is inexorable. No other way can we earn the billions to pay our debts. The only way is to sell our assets. And eventually we will lose our country, a great country no doubt, but owned by others,” added the country’s longest serving prime minister.

The deal between Proton parent DRB-Hicom and Geely was announced yesterday, with Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani saying that Proton would remain a national car because Proton would still have a majority hold of 50.1 per cent.

International newswire Reuters reported that Geely was expected to offer Proton some vehicle technologies in order to grow its sales overseas and to recover some of the global presence Proton had lost in recent years.

Proton reportedly dominated the domestic market by 74 per cent in 1993 at its peak, but saw its market share dwindle to around 15 per cent currently due to low-quality cars, poor after-sales service and tough competition from foreign automakers.

Dr Mahathir said he was certain that Proton would now be sold all over the world.

“It will be like Singapore. Malaysians are proud of this great city-state. If it had not been sold it would be, perhaps, as well developed as Kuala Kedah or Kuala Perlis. Then we cannot be proud of Singapore,” he said.

“Now we can be proud of Proton. With money and superior technology it will compete with Rolls Royce and Bentley. But I cannot be proud of its success. I cannot be proud of the success of something that does not belong to me or my country. Maybe other Malaysians will, but not me,” added the 91-year-old.

Anyway heard it through the grapevine that this is:

Proton Geely’s first model

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Read hear Dr Mahathir’s Chedet


mothers-day-slice-of-real-life-indian-women-women-opower-of-india-online-magazine-motherhood

Work must go on. Life must go on. This then is life.

The world celebrate woman’s day today, Happy Mother’s Day!


The Sabah government upholds religious freedom and views seriously any issue that could jeopardise peace and harmony among the people of different faiths in the state.

To this end, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman hoped the National Registration Department (NRD) would immediately rectify existing weaknesses in the issuance of MyKad, such as inadvertent insertion of ‘Islam’ in the identification documents of non-Muslims.

He also wants a full report from the NRD on the extent of the problem in Sabah and the measures to be put in place to prevent a repeat of such errors.

“This looks like an administrative problem. Nonetheless, I want the problem to be rectified in a speedy manner by the relevant authorities,” he said in a statement here today, in reference to a recent claim on the issue by Sabah Borneo Evangelical Church (SIB) president Datuk Jerry Dusing.

Musa said while there were weaknesses in the NRD, the issue at hand should not be blown out of proportion.

“Certain quarters should not be so quick to state that the government has allowed religious radicalism to go unchecked far too long, supports religious intolerance and corruption as well as criminal activities like abduction,” he said.

He said it was highly irresponsible to make such public accusations especially when it came from religious quarters, adding that it could fan religious sentiments among the diverse communities that practise different religions in the county and state.

“Let me make this clear that there is no room for religious or racial intolerance in Sabah. We are a multi-racial and multi-religious state whereby the people live in peace and harmony,” he said.

He also said the state government gave millions to churches and mission schools as well as Chinese vernacular schools and temples.

“Please be more sensitive in making statements especially in such an ethnically and religiously diverse state like Sabah,” he said. — Bernama


By Datuk Seri Musa Aman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preserving the forest is an important agenda for me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Musa Aman is the Chief Minister of Sabah, Malaysia.