'No surprise' that Taib is the richest man

The revelation that Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud is the richest man in Malaysia does not surprise the majority of Sarawakians, who claim that they know how he obtained his immense wealth.

But what surprises many of them is that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), the police and other authorities have not taken action against Taib, even though several reports of corruption, abuse of power and cronyism have been lodged against him.

According to Swiss NGO Bruno Manser Fund (BMF), Taib is worth US$15 billion, or about RM46.5 billion, making him the richest man in Malaysia.

Politicians and the ordinary citizens interviewed in Kuching the past two days say that it is common knowledge that Taib is a very wealthy person.

"But we won't know the real extent of his wealth unless the MACC, the police and Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak carry out investigations," they said.

Most Sarawakians know who owns the local Cahya Mata Sarawak (CMS) giant and its subsidiaries, which are given big projects, and who controls the supply of cement which goes into construction projects, roads and road repairs and dam construction.

They also know that the family wealth is also generated by companies that are owned by Taib's son Abu Bekir, including:

Titanium Management Sdn Bhd, which was given the construction of more than 300 bridges in the state. Mornada Sdn Bhd, which was alienated 269 acres of prime state land at BDC Stampin, Kuching. Sarawak Cable Sdn Bhd, Trenergy Infrastructure Sdn Bhd and a host of other companies including those in oil palm plantations and smelting plants.

The family also owns about 400 companies around the world and more than 300 in Malaysia alone.

"But it is difficult to believe that a native-born Sarawakian from an ordinary and humble background can be so outrageously greedy... it is beyond the wildest imagination," said businessman Tedewin Ngumban.

"If he were a Dayak, he would have stopped, at the most at RM100 million, and then he would panic," quipped Tedewin, a former supreme council member of Parti Rakyat Sarawak.

'Taib controls everything'

A former assistant minister, Ambrose Gramong, who served under Taib in 1980s, claimed that the chief minister controlled everything - from timber, land, quarries and forests to hotels and plantations.

"Name it, he has it," Gramong added.

A retired army major expressed similar sentiments and he went on to claim that the people's land in his village, including that of his family, had been alienated to Taib's brother.

Commenting on the same issue, Sarawak PKR chairperson Baru Bian ( right ) said: "I would like an immediate investigation to be carried out. But what is the status of MACC investigation that had been reported earlier?

"We would like some response from the MACC," said Baru, who is the assemblyperson for Ba'Kelalan.

Lawyer Abun Sui called for a royal commission of inquiry to look into Taib's wealth, pointing out that everybody in Sarawak knew how much Taib's monthly salary was.

"We want to him how he got all this wealth. We know how much he gets if we deduct his salary and allowance as a state minister. But the balance, where did it come from?

"Therefore, I call for the setting up of a royal commission to investigate his wealth," said Abun, who specialises in native customary rights (NCR) land cases.

Sarawak National Party secretary-general Frankie Nyumboi said the financial data was staggering and concentrated around a small family circle.

"It is also reported that a number of countries are showing interest and are watching and, I assume, Malaysians too want to know what action the Malaysian government will take through its anti-corruption commission.

"If we are serious about combating corruption, a disclosure of this nature must be investigated thoroughly. We should not go into the denial mode," Frankie said.

"The people involved must answer as to how they got their billions of ringgit, now that a disclosure has been made public."

Efforts to contact the Chief Minister's Office on the BMF document have been unsuccessful.

None of the BN leaders want to say anything about this issue.

PRS president James Masing, who is a senior minister in the state cabinet, refused to make any comment when contacted by SMS.

Masing is usually very quick to respond to queries or make comments on any issue.

Groundbreaking study details Taib's US$21bil empire

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