Friday, November 28, 2014

Najib making Umno less relevant, says columnist

28 November 2014

Umno is losing its appeal among more Malaysians, and its president Datuk Seri Najib Razak has been the cause of this with new approaches that pushed the party out of the political spotlight, effectively making it less relevant to the people, The Edge Review columnist, Bridget Welsh, wrote.

Among these were the “outsourcing” of Umno’s traditional role as defender of the Malays to right-wing groups like Perkasa, competing with PAS to be the defender of Islam, use of government resources and machinery to dispense patronage, and relegating the party to the sidelines in the making of government policy.
Writing in this week’s edition of the digital magazine, Welsh, a political analyst, said Najib had changed Umno’s role and in so doing, made the party “less politically relevant”.

She noted that Umno has long relied on the “racial insecurity” of Malays to maintain power but outsourcing its role as defender of the Malays to other groups had “marked the start of Umno’s slide to the sidelines”.
Although these groups received government funding and were closely linked to Umno, holding memberships in both, they had come to take over Umno’s position in spearheading calls to protect Malay interests.

The next approach, competing with PAS to “position Umno as the defender of Islam in Malaysia” effectively moved Umno further from its “moderate roots”, causing it to be perceived by the public as becoming more zealous and hardline.

Najib, as prime minister, allowed increased funding for Islamic institutions, Islamic-based groups, religious schools and the state’s religious apparatus, and while this impacted PAS negatively, it also strengthened the religious bureaucracy within the government service, making it even more powerful and autonomous, Welsh noted.

Equally damaging to Umno’s ability to win new support was Najib’s use of government handouts which “replaced the party as the vehicle for wooing voters”.

Of such initiatives, the 1Malaysia People’s Aid programme (BR1M) was the most visible and was used widely during elections.

This re-branding of the ruling coalition, Barisan Nasional, during election campaigns, served to take the focus off Umno and its baggage, but the party no longer became the “face of political patronage”. While loyalty to Umno was still expected, it was “less direct”, Welsh said.

Welsh used these approaches to illustrate how Umno’s decline in the public eye had come from an unlikely cause – from “within the party leadership itself”.

“In fact, one of the distinguishing features of Najib Razak’s tenure has been the displacement of Umno as a truly dominant political actor,” she wrote.

The moves to outsource Umno’s role as defender of the Malays, to appear more Islamic and to hide behind the face of government as benefactor was the party’s way of dealing with the massive loss of support in the general election of 2008, she said.

Umno then was rejected for its racial politics and corruption, and went on to lose its customary two-thirds majority in Parliament.

Welsh said Umno was unable to transform itself in response to the public’s new political awareness, and opted instead for different tactics, which only worsened its political capital.

Other approaches detrimental to the party have been in the area of party and election financing, and government engagement, Welsh added.

She said Najib had to tap from “new vehicles for election funding, including the scandal-ridden 1Malaysia Development Berhad fund, which was a departure from the past whereby Umno itself had a sufficient war chest.

“Today, other investment arms and entities have changed Umno’s dominant position. It has opened up alternative sources of funding for party leaders, but at the same time reduced the party’s role in setting the direction of financing,” she wrote.

Yet another way Najib has diminished Umno’s role was in reducing the party’s engagement in policy-making, having brought in “hired consultants” to the government, Welsh said.

“The common feature of all of these changes has been to push Umno back from the political front line,” Welsh concluded, and while this had made it “more obsessed” with clinging to power, it was ironically contributing to its own decline. – November 28, 2014.


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

All Americans Will Receive A Microchip Implant In 2017 Per Obamacare -- A look at "Mark of the Beast"

Rev. 13: 16-18
16 Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, 17 so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. 18 This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.

Rev. 14: 9-12
And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he also will drink the wine of God's wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.”

12 Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.

NBC has recently predicted that in 2017, all of America will be tagged with microchips. They will be implanted to help identify individuals immediately. According to the report, the technology is used to answer one question, “Am I who I say I am?”

Some worry, however, that the RFID Microchip will give the government too much power, allowing them to track every move. In some states, like Virginia, legislation is in process to stop this from happening. The report also reveals an RFID Brain Chip that has been developed and is currently being tested on several humans. Proof the RFID Microchip is in Obamacare below:

It was reported that the use of Micro-Chips in Bill H.R. 4872 was located on Page 1014 under “National Medical Device Registry” it tells about a “Class II Device That is Implantable” and yes, they passed the bill. Read Page “1014″ In The H.R. 4872 Read Class II Special Controls Guidance For FDA Staff 

With the RFID Microchip they can track the movement of the people that are implanted. They can also control the money and food of the people. It is also reported to be possible to even kill the people that don’t obey. The HR 3962 Bill is an exact copy of the HR 3200 bill in with the exception of just a few words removed concerning the RFID Microchip but the ability to Chip Every Citizen of the United States is still in the bill. Open Bill and Read Pages 1501 through 1510 Read Class II Special Controls Guidance For FDA Staff Read And Do The Research For Yourself……LET US KNOW WHAT YOU THINK! 


Friday, November 14, 2014

Will we, the 52%, strike back?

haris-ibrahim211.2 million registered voters cast their votes at the poll at the last general election. 52% voted for a regime change in Putrajaya. I was one of them.

Since the result was announced, to this day I feel cheated.

This week I chatted with Maria Chin Abdullah and Wong Piang Yow on the 'Agree to Disagree…with Haris Ibrahim' show.

And over the last few days, I have ploughed through the report of The People’s Tribunal on the 13th General Election.

On the Election Commission, the tribunal reported, at page 60 of the report, that it is “hard to escape the conclusion that the EC of Malaysia was designed as an instrument of the ruling party to keep it in power”.

the-people-tribunalOn the matter of constituency boundaries, the tribunal reported that “It is hard to see how having one constituency nine times the size of another in terms of electorate can be described as ‘approximately equal’.

"The EC failed to implement the principle of equal representation in apportionment and districting…there is considerable evidence that these anomalies work in one direction only: to the benefit of the ruling coalition."

To make a long story short, a major factor that led to the 52% being cheated at the 13th GE was the extensive malapportionment and gerrymandering that afflict our constituencies.

The EC has announced that it is ready to kick off a delimitation exercise which will entail a re-drawing of constituency boundaries, that may even lead to an increase in the number of constituencies, both parliamentary and state.

Should we hope that the EC will look to re-draw boundaries with a view to, as best as it can, equalize the constituencies, or will it continue to serve “as an instrument of the ruling party to keep it in power”?

Maria says she does not trust the EC to serve the interests of the Rakyat.
I, too, do not trust it.

And Wong takes the view that this delimitation exercise offers us, the 52%, the best opportunity to right the inherent wrongs in our present constituency boundaries.
“Haris, we will not have another opportunity like this for another 50 years," was how he put it.

Two things, according to Wong, can be achieved if we are permitted to effectively exercise our constitutional right with regard to this imminent delimitation exercise.

First, we can work towards equalizing our constituencies, aspiring towards achieving the ideal of 1 person, 1 vote, 1 value throughout the constituencies.

Second, and this will go a long way towards helping us achieve the first, to prevent the increase in the number of parliamentary constituencies from the existing 222, which, according to Wong, already far exceeds the number that we actually need.

What is this constitutional right that Wong speaks of? Under the constitution, once the proposed delimitation has been duly gazetted, there is a 30-day period during which objections may be lodged with the EC by a minimum of 100 registered voters in a particular constituency in respect of the proposed re-drawing of that constituency boundary.

Wong warns, however, that there are barriers to the effective exercise of this constitutional right that you and I have.

First, the period for objection is very short: 30 days. Then, you need to have at least 99 others to make up the requisite 100 objectors.
Then comes the biggest barrier.

EC's not being forthcoming with the information that you will need. Let me illustrate this point. I vote in PJ Selatan and Bukit Gasing. EC has just gazetted its proposed delimitation for the whole country. My 30-day period to object has started.

The proposed new boundaries for PJ Selatan and Bukit Gasing are on display at, say, the MBPJ building.
Great. I go and look at it.

But I want to compare this with that of the 21 other parliamentary and 55 other state constituencies in Selangor to see if they are ‘approximately equal’, as stipulated in the 13th Schedule of the Constitution. No maps of the other constituencies are on display at MBPJ. They are not available online on the EC website.

I call EC and it informs me that I can view the maps of all the other constituencies at the various district offices in all the constituencies!

I tell EC I don’t have the time to go through the state to sight the maps, so I wish to purchase them from EC.
Sorry, not for sale.

So, before the expiry of the 30-day objection period, I will have to travel through the state to the various district offices to sight and make sense of these maps!

Not just me, but 99 others!

So much for EC’s 'Cekap & Iklas' slogan that stares at you when you go to its website!
Are we, the 52%, going to allow the EC to get away with this?

Or do we strike back?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

An open letter to the auditor-general on 1MDB

10:40AM  Nov 13, 2014

By AH Manaf

Y Bhg Tan Sri, I read with concern your recent statement, “Why aren’t we auditing 1MDB? As far as their accounts are concerned, they are already audited by one of the big four.” To audit any firm was a “very laborious task”.

In view of the controversies surrounding 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), passing the buck to ‘The Big Four’ is simply not good enough. It also creates a misleading impression of the role, scope and limitations of external auditors.

Companies involved in the biggest scandals in financial history employed leading audit firms. Enron was audited by Andersen. Our own BBMB was audited by Touche Ross (later swallowed up by Deloitte who happens to be 1MDB’s current auditor). Deloitte was the auditor in the Transmile scandal.

Lehman Brothers, the golden boy of investment banking that went spectacularly bankrupt in 2008, was audited by Ernst & Young. It is chilling to remember that Lehman Brothers went bust by selling US$50 billion worth of toxic asset to Cayman Islands banks on the understanding that they would be bought back eventually.

What this created was the impression that Lehman Brothers had US$50 billion more cash than it did and US$50 billion less toxic assets than it held. All this under the nose of ‘Big Four’ Ernst & Young.

Auditors are not infallible, if they were there would be no financial scandals. Audit firms are businesses like any other and operate within the scope of auditing standards which themselves are not infallible.

Sir, I do not dispute that reopening 1MDB’s books is a “very laborious task”. The decision whether to take on this task should be determined among other things by the entity’s risk profile and I would like to ask did you factor these considerations into your decision?

1. 1MDB has gone through three of the ‘Big Four’ firms in the space of five years, according to reports in The Star, The Edge and the Singapore Business Times.

2. 1MDB’s first auditor was Ernst & Young who resigned without signing a single set of accounts (The Star, The Edge).

3. 1MDB’s second auditor KPMG resigned in late 2013 (ie many months after FY March 2013 ended) without signing off the accounts.

4. 1MDB’s third auditor, Deloitte, issued unusually lengthy notes and critical judgments to the FY 2013 accounts. In the industry this can be termed ‘Cover Your Back’, disclosing as much detailed information as possible in order to protect your reputational risk in the event of future problems.

5. Add to this 1MDB’s unusual and inexplicable late filings of annual reports for FY 2013 and FY 2014. Some of 1MDB’s subsidiaries have allegedly not filed accounts since FY 2013.

1MDB’s former 100 percent subsidiary SRC International’s accounts have not been filed since March 2012. This subsidiary is now 100 percent held by the Finance Ministry and has borrowings of RM4 billion via Retirement Fund (Incorporated) or KWAP bonds guaranteed by the government. The auditor of SRC in FY 2012 was Deloitte International.

Auditors are not infallible

As I explained, auditors are not infallible. They cannot 100 percent evaluate a company’s financial health. However they are trained to watch out for ‘alarm bells’ and evaluate fraudulent and other risk factors. The question to ask is why did 1MDB’s first two auditors extricate themselves from a lucrative and prestigious government account?

Tan Sri, with 1MDB’s multiple auditors, late filings, missing subsidiary accounts, I find it astounding that your alarm bells as the auditor-general of Malaysia have not rung at all.

You as the auditor-general have extensive powers as enshrined in the Audit Act 1957 including the power to “call upon any person for any explanations and information which the auditor-general may require in order to enable him to discharge his duties”.

I would like to ask, before dismissing the need for the “laborious tasks”, did you make any enquiries formal or informal to ascertain the claim and discover the reasons why 1MDB had three external auditors in five years?

Did you communicate with officials at the Finance Ministry to find out why 1MDB’s ex-subsidiary SRC, now 100 percent owned by the ministry, has not filed accounts since FY March 2012? With borrowings of RM4 billion from KWAP guaranteed by the government, surely this company warrants the interest of the Auditor-General’s Office.

In addition to the unusual pattern of 1MDB’s auditors and annual reports, there is publicly available information which also rings alarm bells and enhance the case for investigation.

1. 1MDB’s unusual revaluation policy. 1MDB’s revaluation surpluses recorded in the accounts are RM826 million (FY2011), RM569 million (2012), RM2.7 billion (2013) and RM896 million (2014).

Therefore total revaluation in the last four years amounts to a colossal RM4.9 billion. If you deduct this amount from 1MDBs current shareholders funds of RM2.4 billion, 1MDB is in a position of negative equity of RM2.5 billion ie the company would be ‘balance sheet insolvent’.

I will not go into the applicability of MFRS14 but this begs the question why did 1MDB adopt an unusual revaluation policy in contrast to most property developers who book in land at cost or book value?

The simple calculations show that if 1MDB did not undertake this unusual revaluation policy its shareholders funds would be negative to the tune of RM2.5 billion and the company would be considered ‘balance sheet insolvent’. In the event of a material downturn in the property market this has serious implications for 1MDB’s asset cover.

2. The infamous RM7 billion Caymans account (SPC). Tan Sri, as you know Segregated Portfolio Companies (SPCs) are notoriously difficult to value.

Deloitte took pains to highlight in the notes that they depended on unidentified ‘independent third party valuers’ meaning they themselves did not do a mark-to-market or other valuation.

Furthermore, much of 1MDB’s total RM16 billion cash and portfolio investments held abroad is classified by Deloitte in the notes as ‘Level 3 assets’ ie illiquid assets whose fair value cannot be determined by observable measures (high levels of Level 3 assets have been implicated in insolvent companies of the 2007 global financial crisis).

These issues are highlighted for users of the accounts to read and make their own informed interpretations. My question is, Tan Sri, did you?

Raising alarm bells

A brief look at the history of this Caymans RM7 billion and how it came into being as noted in the accounts is again enough to raise alarm bells. A JV with Petrosaudi, mubahara notes, KPMGs ‘emphasis of matter’ (audit flagging up significant uncertainty), stake purchased by an undisclosed third party and finally the RM7 billion proceeds placed in an off-shore Caymans account.

We therefore should ask the question, why did Deloitte highlight in the accounts that they did not evaluate this Caymans portfolio investment themselves?

Sir, taking all this into account can you really claim you have done everything in your power to dismiss all allegations and doubts before dismissing the need for the “laborious task” of opening 1MDB’s books?

I also address this question to the chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamad, in view of the PAC’s role of examining not only the Audit Report but the “accounts of public authorities and those administering public funds” and “other matters it deems fit”.


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Why Do These Pentecostals Keep Growing?

Nov 11, 2014

Many evangelical churches and denominations are in a state of plateau or decline. Why aren’t Pentecostals? 
| Ed Stetzer
Why Do These Pentecostals Keep Growing?

There are parts of the globe where the greatest church growth is happening through the Pentecostal movement. One of the most asked questions is, “In a world where the church seems to be declining in many areas, how they are bucking the trend?”

There is never one reason why a movement succeeds. But some factors rise to the surface. Pentecostals will say they are growing because the Spirit is moving in a powerful way. I get that, and actually would affirm that as part of the reason, but from a sociological perspective, other things are happening and worth exploring.
Pentecostals will say they are growing because the Spirit is moving in a powerful way.
I was recently asked (by Pentecostal leaders) what some sociological reasons might be. So, following that meeting, and in this brief post, I want to explore how the beliefs of Pentecostals actually promote and produce growth, compared to other, more “mainstream” groups.

Pentecostals Value Their Shared Experience

From a statistical perspective, Pentecostals tend to be less “nominal” than other believers. The reason is often obvious—the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.

In almost all Pentecostalism (as contrasted to other continualist streams) speaking in tongues follows the Holy Spirit’s baptism. After that experience, it's hard to say, “Oh I don’t take this whole thing serious, I don’t even know if it’s real."

When you believe you’re speaking in another language, that belief reshapes the way you think about faith!
Being a nominal Presbyterian, Methodist, or Baptist is easier; though there are some outward expectations like baptism (among credobaptists) that can mark a spiritual commitment. But Pentecostal believers and churches constantly emphasize spiritual practice and engagement.
That helps make a more robust faith.

So, more often than not, stagnation is not as compatible with a real Spirit-filled experience. The end result—it’s harder to be a nominal Pentecostal—the beliefs of the movement tend to weed out nominalism. Because of what is happening in church and the community of faith, people tend not to just hang around as casual observers.

Either you join in it, or you move on. Many join. Movements populated by nominals are usually in decline. Nominals don't populate Pentecostalism, so it grows.

Pentecostals Want to Share Their Values

Not only does a valued distinctive encourage participation and growth in the local body, but it also provides an imperative for growth outside of the local body. When you appreciate what you have as much as Pentecostals do, you aren’t satisfied to experience it yourself. You think others should have the same opportunity to partake of the movement of the Spirit of God.

When I meet with Pentecostal leaders, they're strategizing about where to plant a church. They break out the maps and determine where they need to focus their attention.

From a statistical perspective, Pentecostals tend to be less “nominal” than other believers.
Never mind there are already six churches in a 10-block community. To them, there’s not a Spirit-filled church in that community until they plant one. So they are avid planters, not just in their own area, but also around the world.

Worth Sharing The Spirit-Filled Experience

Pentecostals believe in their approach. Their Christian walk has benefited, and they think everyone should have access. While others are figuring out what to do now to achieve growth, Pentecostals are focusing on who they are and are achieving growth.

When you think your expression is worth sharing (be it Pentecostal, Calvinist, or Anabaptist) you are more likely to share it with others, start new churches, and more.

So, What Does It Mean for the Rest of Us?

One key to growth is for you actually to believe what you have is so important that propagation to other contexts in its current version is necessary. The Vineyard exploded in growth in the 1980s for this reason. They thought that people needed to experience what the Vineyard had to offer.

Baptists thought that way in the 50s. Methodists thought that way in the Second Great Awakening.
Pentecostal believe they have something worth propagating. And that’s worth learning from.

Odd Distinctives

Of course, to non-Pentecostals, all this seems odd. Sometimes for younger or dissatisfied Pentecostals, they want to de-emphasize the supernatural.

Well, I'd have some theological nuances I’d like to bring in, but from a sociological perspective my response is, “I wouldn’t downplay what is in the engine.” You don’t care for some of their expression? That’s fine. But they are trying to reach the lost and grow the Kingdom.

Their distinctives apparently aren't hindering their growth—they are propelling growth globally.
Pentecostal believe they have something worth propagating. And that’s worth learning from.

People Want a Faith With Flavor

One of the dangers today is “bland evangelicalism.” Many evangelical churches and denominations are in a state of plateau or decline. Some groups are trying to downplay their distinctives to be more acceptable. Who wants to duplicate that? Nobody.

Sometimes the difference between an expanding movement and one that is retracting is how they deal with their distinctives. Some are in protection mode. They feel like they have to preserve their specialness by locking it down and guarding it. Ironically, they end up smothering the mission by covering the light that would shine through their specially designed glass.

Others embrace and celebrate their unique values and expression. In doing so, they attract people who are seeking something more than bland.

Of the 25 largest faith groups in the United States, the only two orthodox Christian groups on the list that are growing are the Assemblies of God and Church of God (Cleveland). So, what do all of the declining denominations have in common?

Most are mainline, a few are evangelical, but most simply are not as excited about what they believe—and don’t think it needs to be propagated as much—as the Pentecostals.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

How To Instantly Stop A Migraine With Salt

Posted on

How To Instantly Stop A Migraine With Salt Migraine sufferers are often anxious to rid themselves of the terrible pain characterizing this condition. A migraine is nothing to laugh at; a really bad migraine can pretty much cripple you and take you down for the rest of your day. What’s worse, there are some migraines that can’t be abated with your usual pain killers. So, what’s the next best thing to use? Salt.

How to Use Salt for Instant Migraine Relief

Being acquainted with migraines, I literally have used everything in the past to attempt to stop it.  Migraines are one of those things that simply ruin your life for the day. However, eventually, I did find a method that worked for me!  I am very happy I didn’t have to resort to conventional medicine.

When you use salt to relieve migraines, make sure to use high quality salt such as Himalayan crystal salt. It’s the most complete salt in the world. It contains 84 minerals, electrolytes and elements – a fascinating number considering that there are only 118 elements known to science. This salt helps reduce the severity of migraine headaches, strengthens the immune system, increases energy levels, balances serotonin levels in the bloodstream, restores the body’s alkaline and electrolyte balance and much more.
Also, this method is very easy.

Just take a glass of lemon juice with a high concentration of Himalayan crystal salt and drink it. It works like magic!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

In campaign to defend democracy, U.S. should start with Malaysia

October 31 at 7:20 PM
AT THE United Nations in September, President Obama, citing “relentless crackdowns” around the world against dissent and civil society, promised “an even stronger campaign to defend democracy.” Even when it was “uncomfortable” or “causes friction,” he pledged, his administration would step up to defend persecuted activists and “oppose efforts by foreign governments to restrict freedoms of peaceful assembly and association and expression.” So far we haven’t seen much follow-up on that promise, but the opportunities to do so are abundant.

One of the most urgent lies in Malaysia, a U.S. ally that has launched an extraordinary crackdown on opposition leaders, academics and journalists. In the past two months, the government of Prime Minister Najib Razak has charged nearly two dozen activists under a colonial-era sedition law, that mandates three years in prison for acts that “excite dissatisfaction” with the government. Mr. Najib promised as recently as 2012 to repeal the law; instead, the government is prosecuting critics merely for speaking out, publishing articles or uploading videos.

At the same time, the government has revived an odious criminal case against Anwar Ibrahim, the leader of the opposition and one of the Muslim world’s foremost liberal democrats. Mr. Anwar was charged in 2008 with homosexual sodomy, which Malaysia shamefully still treats as a crime. Though he denied the charge and was acquitted in a 2012 trial, an appeals court this year reversed the verdict and handed him a five-year prison sentence. This week his final appeal is being heard by Malaysia’s highest court. If he loses, the 67-year-old Mr. Anwar will be imprisoned and banned from politics. Even if he wins, he, too, faces prosecution under the sedition law.

It’s not hard to guess why Mr. Najib might have broken his pledge to repeal the statute and reversed what was previously a cautious march toward greater freedom in his majority Muslim country. Last year, his ruling party for the first time lost the popular vote in a general election, to a coalition led by Mr. Anwar.

Gerrymandering preserved the government’s parliamentary majority, but the ruling establishment Mr. Najib leads appears to have set out to crush the opposition before the next election, due in 2017. The campaign is particularly destructive because Malaysia, unlike many other majority Muslim countries, does not currently face an internal terrorist challenge, though some Malaysians are known to have traveled to Syria to join the Islamic State. By eliminating peaceful means of opposition, Mr. Najib risks making extremist options more attractive.

Mr. Obama has made a point of cultivating Mr. Najib and his government as part of his policy of “rebalancing” toward Asia, and so far the administration has had little to say about the political crackdown. In March, it cautiously expressed concern about Mr. Anwar’s prosecution. But as Mr. Anwar has argued his appeal this week there’s been no sign of the “stronger campaign” Mr. Obama promised. The verdict is expected next week; if Mr. Obama is genuinely willing to incur “friction” with allies in defense of human rights, now is the time to do it in Malaysia.


Exposing Taib Mahmud, Sovereign of Sarawak

I’ve been pondering Tun Taib Mahmud’s penchant for the colour yellow.
Yesterday I learned that Taib likes his buildings painted yellow and always wears something yellow – even if it be but his underwear. Yellow was the colour of royalty in India. Yellow became and remains the colour of royalty in the Peninsula. Does Taib have pretensions to royalty?
I thought of royalty because I had read news reports that the Conference of Rulers met this week. I wondered if timber was on their meeting agenda.
I wondered about timber because when Dr Mahathir (now Tun) began his mission to clip the wings of the royals, he revealed long-withheld information about the royals’ thirst for a share in the timber resources of Malaysia. According to Professor Mark Gillen of the Faculty of Law of the University of Victoria in Canada, the royal thirst for timber concessions was made public on 15th and 18th December 1992 by the New Straits Times and The Star newspapers.
I wondered about timber because that has been the route to riches for Taib – as documented in the meticulously researched book Money Logging: On the Trail of the Asian Timber Mafia by Dr. Lukas Straumann, a professional historian and Executive Director of the Switzerland based Bruno Manser Fund.

Money is in the title for a reason.
Taib’s wealth is enormous. On the occasion of 77 year old Taib’s elevation from Chief Minister to Governor of Sarawak, The Diplomat wrote this about Taib’s wealth:
“Pak Uban or the ‘white haired uncle’ – and his family have amassed a fortune worth $20 billion or more, and established business tentacles through 400 companies into the tiniest reaches of the state and around the world that will ensure his clan continues to thrive long after his retirement on Friday.”
The Constitution of Malaysia grants to state governments – not the Federal government, not the Sultans – the authority over land and natural resources. Thus the Chief Minister (Menteri Besar), the head of the state government, has the power to determine how land will be used and by whom.
Taib became Chief Minister in 1981, the year Dr Mahathir became Prime Minister. Dr M had many enemies in Umno, in the peninsula. The last thing he needed was a rebellion by the Sarawakians, the “fixed deposit” which kept him in office. Taib turned Mahathir’s insecurity to his advantage.
For a fee, Taib delivered the ‘Sarawak stability’ Mahathir needed. His fee was to reign unchecked, like an old-time royal.
A hallmark of Taib’s reign was his abolishment, in 1985, of the forestry ministry. He replaced it with the ministry of resources planning and appointed himself its head. This gave him the sole prerogative to grant concessions and plantation licenses.
Dr Straumann points out the result of Taib’s manoeuvre: “Exploitation of all of Sarawak – worth billions of dollars – depended on just one person, with no checks and balances, no transparency and no public accountability.” (Page 119)
As I said earlier, it is public knowledge that Taib and his family are worth USD 20 billion or more. Dr Straussman goes further: he names the companies which are the vessels of Taib’s wealth.
The first to appear in his list is Sakto real estate company (Canada, 1983) incorporated two years after Taib became Chief Minister; next is Sakti real estate company (California, 1987); then the reverse takeover of state construction company, Cahaya Mata Sarawak (1993); then Ridgeford Properties (London, 1996); then purchase of RHB bank, Malaysia’s fourth largest bank (2001).
The list and its webs and intrigues are long. Suffice to say that by 2011 “The Taib family had a financial interest in over 400 companies in 25 countries and offshore financial centres.” (Page 303)
The book reads like a thriller. Few readers will detect that it’s a translation of a work first published in German. I hope the publishers are working on a Malay translation.
The Federal government and the State legislature allowed Taib to act like a sovereign. He rewarded those who supported him. He punished those who did not. There are hordes of examples in the book. I’ll just mention one.
Taib turned against his Uncle Rahman Ya’kub, who had brought him into politics and had stepped into the role of Governor to make way for him. The extent of Taib’s vindictive agenda was displayed for all as an example of what would happen to anyone who would resist this Adelaide University trained lawyer.
This quote shows the climate of fear Taib created; it also exhibits Dr Straumann’s readable style:
“Taib was “aggrieved and hell-bent on taking revenge, and everyone has been particularly afraid of him since that time,” reports one of Rahman’s former golf partners. “Whenever Rahman appeared on the golf course in Miri, suddenly there was not a soul left to be seen there. Nobody wanted to be spotted by Taib’s spies on the golf course at the same time as Rahman.” Any business people who had had dealings with Rahman lost their public contracts and were shut out of lucrative deals. Politicians and civil servants suspected of supporting Taib’s uncle were side-lined. “In those days, I used to play golf with Rahman frequently, but in the end I had to stop. My son asked me to; he was afraid of losing his government job.”” (Page 121)
Money Logging is not only meticulously researched; it is thoughtful and comprehensive. It discusses the ridiculous projects spawned to consume the electricity to be generated by Taib’s dams. It describes the injustices done to the natives. It exposes many who contributed to Taib’s “success.”
Even the FBI of the USA and ministries of the Canadian government are implicated, as are banks and countries such as Hong Kong and China. Money Logging is as insightful and explosive a book as Malaysian Maverick: Mahathir Mohamad in Turbulent Times by Barry Wain.
The Rulers Conference is attended by the Rulers together with their Chief Ministers. I wonder if the man in yellow from Sarawak attended. I wonder what the Rulers and Chief Ministers think of Taib Mahmud. I hear Michael Douglas saying “Greed is good” and Edmund Burke saying “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Who will prevail?