Recently it was Beginda Minda, publicity chief of Baleh branch of Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) who asked Taib to resign. For those remarks Beginda was forced to resign from the party. Now the MP for Bandar Kuching, Chong Chieng Jen has joined the chorus.
In an interview with Malaysiakini, Chong not only asked Taib to resign, but also accused Taib’s family of accumulating “astronomical wealth” through State contracts such as RM300 million for the construction of the new State Assembly building. Many road and building projects have been awarded to CMS and Naim Cendera, both companies are owned by Taib’s family members and relatives.
Many more contracts are waiting for these companies in the proposed SCORE (Sarawak Corridor of Renewal Energy) that is expected to draw in more than RM100 billion of investments and the construction of 12 dams in the State.
Literally thousands of Sarawakians – whether they are Malays, Chinese or Dayaks – have expressed dissatisfaction with Taib’s administration, and have wished him to resign, but not many dare to express it publicly. Listen to them at offices, coffee shops, villages and longhouses and you hear them talking bad about Taib’s 27 years as chief minister and his family being awarded government contracts, etc. and etc.
Among the Dayaks, their common talks centre on thousands of acres of their Native Customary Rights (NCR) lands being taken away and are sold to big “towkays” who are mostly supporters and financiers of Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) for huge oil palm plantations.
Taib knows about the people’s resentment against his administration. In fact he knew it a long time ago so in December 1995 he announced he would retire by 2000 in order to pacify the people. (See the attached news cutting below: Sarawak Tribune, 7 Dec 1995).
Now it is eight years over due. And the people who were supposed to take over from him have disappeared into political oblivion. Such great names include Bujang Ulis, Dr. Sulaiman Daud, Abang Yusuf Puteh, Abang Abu Bakar and Adenan Satem.
The question the people of Sarawak are often asking is: Why does Taib continue to rule Sarawak despite of his age, health problems and the huge amount of wealth his family has accumulated?
One reason is perhaps he could not find a suitable and trusted leader to take over from him; someone whom he can trust to “look” after his (Taib’s) family’s businesses when he steps down. “Mau tidak mau” (whether he likes it or not or whether we like it or not), he has to wait for his own son, now a deputy minister of Tourism to take over from him as chief minister. That may take two more years or even longer as his son has just entered politics.
It appears that Taib wants to ensure that his family’s businesses will not be “disturbed” as he has seen how the Indonesian government seized properties belonging to Suharto’s family or the Philippines Government wanted the Marcos family to return to the people the ill-gotten properties.
And more frightening for Taib is that the Sarawakians may elect Pakatan Rakyat (People’s Alliance) to power in the coming State election or subsequent elections; worst still for him, if Anwar Ibrahim is to be the Prime Minister of Malaysia.