Abdul Taib Mahmud Business Empire
From Human nature
|"For if the bulk of the public were convinced that the State is nothing more nor less than a bandit gang writ large, then the State would soon collapse to take on no more status or breadth of existence than another Mafia gang." — Murray N. Rothbard |
Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib bin Mahmud (born 1936, age 77) is the 4th and current Chief Minister of Sarawak, as well as the longest-serving Chief Minister in Malaysia, having hold the post since 1981. Serving the people through public service (or is it pubic service?) is an extremely lucrative business, as this article shows.
2. A flamboyant man with expensive tastes: In 1997, author Peter Dauvergne in his book, Shadows in the Forest: Japan and the Politics of Timber in Southeast Asia, described Taib as "flamboyant with expensive tastes". Taib owns a mansion in Demak Jaya, overlooking the Sarawak River. His living room is decorated with gilt-edged European-style sofa sets, and he has been reported to have purchased a piano once belonging to Liberace, the late American showman, for US$2 million (RM6.05 million). Taib habitually wears double-breasted suits, and a ring with a walnut-sized red gem, surrounded by small diamonds. He drives around in Kuching in his cream-coloured Rolls-Royce car. Taib family is also alleged to own property portfolio in London. Responding to comments about his wealth, Taib insisted that his family made money through their own hard work. A doctoral thesis written by Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS) lecturer, Dr Neilson Mersat, however, alleged that Taib's family wealth comes mostly from Sarawak state government contracts without tender, with profits sent overseas to hide them. Andrew Aeria, another UNIMAS lecturer, claimed that the takeover of Bank Utama and other state-owned companies by Cahya Mata Sarawak Berhad (CMSB), a company controlled by Taib's family, is an example where highly-profitable business favored only well-connected individuals and that the privatisation of such state-owned companies deprived the state government of sources of income, thus raising the burden of taxpayers.
3. Logging business: Taib is reported to have used timber concessions for personal and family enrichment. The involvement of Taib and his family in the logging industry is specifically mentioned in a report published by Forests Monitor. According to the report, the chief minister reserves the legal right to revoke timber licenses to ensure that anyone with logging interest is loyal to him. In 2007, The Japan Times reported that 9 Japanese shipping companies had allegedly failed to report some 1.1 billion yen (RM37.4 million) paid to Sarawak officials over a period of up to 7 years via a Hong Kong agent linked to Taib's family. Taib, however, denied the Japan Times' allegations, claiming that he had no knowledge of the matter. The environmental damage caused by logging activities under Taib's rule is such that less than 10% of Sarawak's primary forests remain today. Despite continued petitions and road blockades by many of Sarawak's indigenous communities, logging of their ancestral lands continues, leading to several deaths and regular violent coercion by the Malaysian army, police, and logging industry enforcers.
The Taib Mahmud Family Business Empire: Who's Who
- Family collectively:
- Taib's family has a controlling stake in Cahya Mata Sarawak Berhad (CMSB). The company has been awarded various government contracts in Sarawak, including the construction and maintenance of roads, supply of roofing materials to low-cost housing units, building of hospitals, and upgrading of airports. In 2001, the Malaysian federal government allowed Bank Utama, the CMS Group's banking unit, to acquire RHB Bank to become one of Malaysia's 10 core banks. In 2008, the Sarawak government planned to build more dams in Sarawak, envisaging a total of 51 dams by the year 2037, in order to meet the future energy demand of industrialization. Opponents of the plans cited this project as corruption and capital cronyism because CMSB is expected to benefit indirectly by supplying concrete material for the project.
- The Sarawak Report alleged that Taib established Sakto Corporation in Canada, a real estate empire worth a few hundred million US dollars, under the name of his son-in-law, Sean Murray. (Taib and his family have not shown any reactions to such allegations made by Sarawak Report).
- Taib's family are also the majority shareholders of Sitehost Pty. Ltd., Australia, which owns Adelaide Hilton Hotel.
- Son: Taib's son, Mahmud Abu Bekir Taib, is a major shareholder of Titanium Management Sdn. Bhd. In 2000, the Sarawak cabinet approved a state contract worth RM551 million directly to Titanium Management Sdn. Bhd. This contract allowed Titanium to repair or replace 384 old bridges in the state over 7 years. With a cost overrun of 72% from the original cost, the Malaysian 2006 Auditor's General Report stated that the terms in the contract favored the contractor.
- Daughter: Apart from managing the few hundred million US dollar Sakto Corporation in Canada, Taib's daughter and her husband, Sean Murray, are alleged to also manage Sakti International Corporation in the United States which owns the Abraham Lincoln building, housing the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) facility.
- Mohd Tufail bin Mahmud is the co-owner of Sanyan Group, one of Sarawak's biggest timber companies. In 2001, the Group completed its construction of the 28-storey Wisma Sanyan in Sibu where the state government took up 8 office floors.
- Onn Mahmud owns Achi Jaya Shipping, together with his immediate family. Achi Jaya Shipping is alleged to demand payment continually from Japanese log carriers for transporting wood from Sarawak. (The payments are actually kickbacks, as stated in the 2007 timber kickback scandal).
- Mohamad Arip bin Mahmud was appointed a director of Jaya Tiasa Holdings Berhad (controlled by Rimbunan Hijau Group, owned by Datuk Tiong Hiew King, one of Asia's largest timber tycoons) in April 1995.
- Sister: Roziah Mahmud is one of the most powerful businesswomen in Sarawak, with extensive holdings in property and timber business. She is also one of the business partners of Datuk Tiong Hiew King.
- Cousin: Abdul Hamed Sepawi is the chairman of Naim Holdings Berhad, Sarawak Energy Berhad, and Ta Ann Holdings Berhad. He was also on the board of Sarawak Timber Industry Development Corp and Sarawak Plantation Berhad.
- Brother-in-law: Tan Sri Datuk Amar Haji Abdul Aziz bin Dato Haji Husain was appointed State Secretary by Taib in 2000 and when he retired in 2006, he was appointed as the Group Managing Director of Sarawak Energy Berhad, effective from 2007. He also holds directorships for Eksons Corporation Berhad, Mlabs Systems Berhad, Syarikat SESCO Berhad, and other companies.