Monday, January 30

More natives reporting ‘land grabs’

(Taken from Free Malaysia Today)
January 30, 2012

Within the next '10 years or less' several thousand natives in Sarawak are likely to end up being landless vagrants if the current government's policies continue.

KUCHING: Alleged land grabs involving native customary rights (NCR) properties by the Taib Mahmud-led government is reaching such “chronic” proportions that “in 10 years or less” there will be no native-owned areas, claims a prominent Sarawak NCR lawyer.

According to Baru Bian, an increasing number of cases of NCR land grabs are being reported from as far interior as Lawas in the north and Lundu in the south of Sarawak.

“From Lawas to Lundu, the NCR lands have been grabbed by the state Barisan Nasional government.

“It is so chronic that in 10 years or even less, the native landowners will have no more land left for them to farm and earn a living. And we are talking about several thousand natives being deprived of their land.

“They will therefore be forced out of their land and moved to cities and towns as their land has been given to oil palm and timber companies under the so-called provisional leases,” said Bian, who is the Ba’Kelalan assemblyman.

He said that in the cities and towns, these people will become vagrants living under bridges and becoming illegal squatters. Soon, they will create a new set of social problems.

“Already many have become scavengers and are involved in crimes and drugs. This is our main worry as they pose social problems.

“If the current government’s policy is not changed, and if the people keep on supporting the BN, this is going to be the reality,” he said.

Bian said since the state election in April, more than 50 NCR cases had surfaced and are waiting to be filed in court.

Challenge to debate Taib
Already more than 200 NCR land-grabbing cases are pending hearing in the High Court here.

“The number of new NCR land cases is really shocking.

“More and more natives are coming to see us with their complaints that their land have been taken away from them.

“But the government denies this. It says it never grabbed NCR land.

“And if it continues to say so, then my challenge to Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud for an open debate is still there,” said Bian.

Bian had, in February last year, challenged Taib to debate the opposition’s allegations of land grabs by the government.

Initially, Taib was ready to accept the challenge if Bian could show strong evidence to support his allegation that the government had seized NCR land.

Bian was ready with proof but the debate did not materialise as some leaders of Taib’s Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) said that Bian was not equal to Taib in stature and was not “even” an elected representative.

On April 16 last year, Bian won the Ba’ Kelalan state seat defeating BN-Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) candidate Willie Liau by 473 votes.

With the win, Bian, who is also Sarawak PKR chairman, is in a better position to debate with Taib.

“My challenge for an open debate with the chief minister is still on.

“And I insist we debate with the number one (man), that is, the chief minister himself,” said Bian.

Dare Mawan face off with Taib?

(Taken From Free Malaysia Today)
January 28, 2012

The next general election may see more of Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud's party members contesting under the banner of SPDP, PRS or even SUPP.

KUCHING:  Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) is not out of the woods yet despite the sacking of its five errant elected representatives, better known as the SPDP 5.

In fact word has it, that party  president William Mawan may now be faced with a bigger and more complex problem.

The five have declared themselves BN friendly and whilst they may be out of SPDP, they are not out of Barisan Nasional. They were all elected under a BN ticket, albeit under SPDP banner.

The question sifting through the party’s rank and file is: ‘Does Mawan have the political mettle, skill and courage to deal with this ‘new’ challenge’?

Because Mawan will be up against a political megamind – Taib Mahmud.

Will he dare face-off with Taib?

The four ex-SPDP assemblymen – Sylvester Entri (Marudi), Peter Nansian (Tasik Biru), Rosey Yunus (Bekenu), Paulus Gumbang (Batu Danau) and the MP for Mas Gading Tiki Lafe are not ordinary elected representatives.

They are ‘PBB men” planted in SPDP and allegedly backed by Taib. PBB or Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu is Taib’s political vehicle.

Following their expulsion, they are now going to register a BN club with the Registrar of Societies to justify or sustain them as BN representatives.

This will also ensure that they continue to receive minor rural projects for their respective constituencies.

Mawan refuses to acknowledge the club as a political entity.

But that is his problem. The five have Taib’ s blessings to start the club.

SPDP ‘powerless’

Once registered, the BN club has the legal entity of a political party. In other words, Mawan cannot say that they are ‘partyless’.

This will justify Taib’s decision to retain Entri, Nansian and Rosey as assistant ministers.

The appointment of Paulus Gumbang as chairman of the Miri Port Authority effective next month is the latest indication that Taib is not supporting Mawan.

The chairmanship of the authority has always been allocated to SPDP.

Mawan recommended his own man to replace Rosey who has been appointed assistant minister.

But Mawan’s recommendation was rejected indicating again that SPDP is now ‘powerless’.

The formation of the BN club has two immediate effects:

Firstly, by recognizing the formation of the club, Taib may want them to defend their seats as they are still considered ‘winnable candidates’. 

Under the BN spirit of understanding, Mawan should oppose it.  But does he have the courage to protest?

If he is strong enough to defend the rights of SPDP in BN, it is possible that the seats may be returned to the party.

Taib may chose to re-use the formula he adopted to solve the problems between SNAP  and Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS) in the 1983 state election.

In this formula, both parties were allowed to use their own symbols for a ‘free-for-all’ in the disputed constituencies.

Setting a precedent

PBDS which broke away from SNAP demanded to contest in 16 state seats. SNAP strongly opposed them.

In order to show which of the two had the support of the people, Taib then proposed a ‘free-for-all’ in the disputed seats. Both SNAP and PBDS won eight seats each.

But the ‘danger’ in this solution is that the BN leadership may be forced to take sides in the midst of the electioneering as it did to PBDS.

After all BN has nothing to lose. Whichever party wins is still a victory for Barisan Nasional.

The party which allies itself with BN would also see financial and logistical support from the Barisan Nasional.

But such an action would further worsen the animosity between the two parties and this can cause a major problem for BN.

Secondly, with the formation of the club, every time there are internal problems in a Barisan Nasional component party, the disgruntled members may quit the party and join the BN Club.

The BN club would set a precedent. This is the danger the Barisan Nasional coalition may face later on.

Such scenario can happen to any party in the Barisan Nasional. It can even happen to PBB itself.

What would Taib say if PBB members who are not happy with him quit the party and join the club?

Then there are the seven elected representatives from Sarawak United Peoples Party (SUPP) who are also in limbo.

Fear of political backlash

The six are – former SUPP deputy secretary general Wong Soon Koh (Bawang Asan) Tiong Thai King (MP for Sibu), Ranom Mina (Opar assemblyman), Jerip Susil (Bengoh), Francis Harden (Simanggang), Johnichal Rayong (Engkilili) and Lee Kim Shin (Senadin).

In the event that SUPP is deregistered due to breaches in party elections or if they are unable to reconcile with the newly elected president Peter Chin, Wong and his group have made it very clear that they will not form a new party for the time being.

It is, however, possible they may join the BN club and remain BN friendly.

As a UNIMAS lecturer Jeneri Amir said: “By allowing individuals who have been sacked from a Barisan component party to form or join a BN club, the implications are far-reaching.

“If such a club is being condoned by BN, It will create confusion, cause splits and weaken the coalition,” he said.

For the coming general election, it is anticipated by other leaders of BN component parties that more ‘PBB people’ will be contesting under the banner of SPDP, PRS or even SUPP.

This is based on what Taib said that he alone will determine who will be the winnable candidates.

For the time being no one dares to speak out their minds for fear of political backlash, but murmurs of dissatisfaction have getting louder in SPDP.

“What is the point of having our own political parties with our own presidents, if they cannot nominate their own party members to be candidates?

“We may as well dissolve our parties and join PBB or even join the Opposition?” said an angry senior SPDP leader who did not wish to be identified.

Friday, January 27

Taib snubs Najib’s man in Sarawak

(Taken from Free Malaysia Today)
January 25, 2012

Can wily veteran Taib Mahmud outwit the Umno 'immortals' in the game of political charades?
KUCHING: Chief Minister Taib Mahmud’s absence from Sarawak United People’s Party’s (SUPP) Chinese New Year open house on Monday has further fuelled speculations of “Putrajaya’s hand” in Sarawak.

This is the second time that Taib has excused himself from a SUPP function organised by “agents of Putrajaya”.

He sent his deputy Alfred Jabu Numpang in his place. Also present at the open house was acting Yang di-Pertua Negeri Asfia Awang Nassar and scores of other VIPs.

Last December, he sent Abang Johari Tun Openg, Pesaka Bumiptera Bersatu (PBB) deputy president, to attend the party’s controversy-ridden triennial delegates conference (TDC), which was opened by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak. Taib is PBB president.

The TDC also saw the election of federal minister Peter Chin as the party’s new president.

Chin’s last-minute decision to contest the presidency had apparently come about on the advice of Najib – much to the consternation of the party’s former deputy secretary-genetal Wong Soon Koh who had expected to assume the position uncontested.

Wong is a senior minister in Taib’s administration. Chin is the Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister in Najib’s Cabinet.

Chin had reportedly “never” shown an interest in the state leadership position until very recently.

The Chin-Wong war is seen here as a covert battle between Taib and Najib.

It is common knowledge here that Umno wants to gain a foothold in Sarawak, with or without Taib’s support.

Umno ‘immortals’ eyeing Sarawak

In the run-up to the Sarawak state election last April, Najib had publicly pressured Taib to step down and many saw this as a sign of disrespect for the veteran politician who had always delivered “the goods” to Umno.

But in recent months it has become increasingly obvious that a sense of urgency and desperation has set in Putrajaya.

Said political analyst Peter Minos, who is also PBB’s information chief: “The federal Barisan Nasional is very keen on Sarawak.”

Although BN won the state election, it suffered historic losses to the opposition.

The “Umno immortals” believe that Taib is old and weak and they need to come into Sarawak and “win over” the fence-sitters.

But wily Taib has his own plan and is playing Najib’s political charade.

Reports of “irreconcilable” differences between Chin and Wong’s factions are getting stronger by the day.

Taib’s absence for the second time has lent credence to these rumours.

Taib’s excuse for not attending the open house was his “age”.

“I am getting older now. I can’t assert myself too much. Besides, Jabu is doing that for me (at the SUPP open house),” he told reporters.

But Taib’s excuse, however, was far from convincing since he reportedly visited the homes of several other prominent local Chinese leaders and businessmen.

Wong has Taib’s support

What is now clear to SUPP supporters is that Taib is on Wong’s side in the party.

When asked, several guests attending the open house said that it was obvious that Taib had a hand in the party’s crisis and that he is backing Wong.

Said one SUPP leaders who declined to be named: “I have the feeling that SUPP is likely to be deregistered and that Wong and his six other elected representatives are likely to join the BN club formed by the five former leaders of Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP). 

“It will be sad if the 52-year-old party is to be deregistered.”

He was referring to the Registrar of Societies’ (ROS) investigation into complaints of irregularities in the branch-level party polls in the run-up to the TDC last December.

Prior to the TDC, Wong and his team had lodged a report with ROS on the issue.

Despite ROS’ ongoing investigation, the party leadership went ahead and held the TDC.

Wong and his team boycotted the TDC on the grounds that it was illegal. The ROS is still investigating the party.

With the boycott, Wong forfeited his right to contest the presidency. On Wong’s team are MP for Sibu, Tiong Thai King, and five state elected representatives – Lee Kim Shin (Senadin), Ranom Mina (Opar), Jerip Susil (Bengoh), Francis Harden (Simanggang) and Johnichal Rayong (Engkilili).

Don’t speculate

Meanwhile, Chin, when asked about Taib’s absence, urged reporters not to speculate.

“We sent an invitation to the chief minister, but we were told he would be represented by Jabu.

“Whatever reason Taib has for not attending the open house this year, only he knows the answer, and as SUPP president, (I feel) it is all right that Taib chose not to come.

“After all, this is an open house for both the VIPs and the people. Taib’s absence does not reflect anything,” he added.

Monday, January 23

Gong Xi Fa Cai

The administrators of the Broken Shield wish their Chinese readers and friends ‘Gong Xi Fa Cai’.

Let the year of the water dragon bring greatness, power, strength, goodness, and wisdom to all of us. 

Baru Bian's Chinese New Year Message

The year of the Dragon will be upon us in a few hours and all our Chinese friends and relatives are looking forward with eager anticipation to what the benevolent water Dragon will bring. 

The dragon is the only mythical creature in the Chinese horoscope, signifying greatness, goodness and blessings. To the Chinese, Dragons represent intense celestial and terrestrial power, wisdom, and strength and are often seen as the symbol of divine protection and vigilance. The Dragon is said to be a deliverer of good fortune, a protector of the innocent and a master of authority.

It is fortuitous that 2012 will also see the start of Sarawak’s jubilee year, the year in which the 13th General Election will be held. To the Christians, the Jubilee year is a significant and meaningful year. The Jubilee year, which is the year following the completion of seven cycles of seven years is promised as a year of great rejoicing, where there will be release, return and renewal.  In the biblical context, the slaves would be set free, debts forgiven, and land restored to its original owners, and allowed to be renewed, i.e. left fallow for a year.

In the context of Sarawak’s current situation, I see our Jubilee year as one in which our people will be liberated from the suffering caused by the greed and selfishness of those to whom they have looked for protection. 

It will be a year in which the lands taken cruelly from our native folk by these same people and their cronies will be returned to their rightful owners. It will be a year in which there will be a renewal of hope, and restoration of social justice. It will be a time when man will be taught how to live responsibly, and God will bless man with prosperity and peace.

Let us all direct our energies this year towards realizing what has been promised to us by God. The strength and wisdom of the Dragon is on the side of the righteous and the innocent. Let us emulate these characteristics as we persevere in our struggle for the common good.  

The idea of a free and prosperous Sarawak is not a myth or an impossible dream; the goalpost is in sight and within reach. With concerted and consistent effort on our part, with guiding help from divine hands and with celestial forces breathing fire into our political battle, our dreamswill finally become reality. What a tremendous year this Jubilee Year of the Dragon is going to be!

My family and I wish all our Chinese friends and supporters Gong Xi Fa Cai. May you enjoy Good Health, Happiness and Prosperity in abundance.

State Assemblyman
N70 Ba’ Kelalan
PKR Sarawak 

Saturday, January 21

Listeners Sound Fury Over RM500 Hand-out Blunder

RADIO FREE SARAWAK – 20th January 2012

The growing frustration among poorer voters in Sarawak over the mess and confusion surrounding BN’s heavily promoted pre-election hand out of RM500 was vented by numerous interviewees on Radio Free Sarawak (RFS) today.

If the anger among these local village people is anything to go by, the distribution, which was supposed to attract voters in the run up to GE 13 could seriously backfire against the ruling party.

Most seriously for the state authorities, most of the interviewees who criticised the hand-out were village headmen, whose views carry considerable weight in their communities. 

The headmen are also paid by the state, so the disaffection is doubly dangerous. Problems have included confusion over the distribution of the cash, with many poorer people having to make expensive trips from the interior to apply for the money. 

Often they have turned out to be unsuccessful, leaving them even poorer after their wasted visit.

It was also frustrating for those who did receive money that it came in the form of a voucher that had to be taken to specific banks, which were not properly equipped to deal with the large queues of people.

In one kampong in the Kanowit area, the Tuai Rumah, Sandah, described to the show how several villagers from his area had waited outside the Dewan Suarah in Kanowit for several days to find if they were eligible.  Many had travelled many hours and had then to find costly lodging.

“Many of my people did not receive the money…. “ said the Tuai Rumah.

 Another Tuai Rumah, Usop from Pantu Abok, complained to the programme:

“This RM500 is political money to buy votes”.

He described how many of the villagers from his region had found the form filling involved extremely troublesome and difficult.  Some of the poorest people did not get the money. 

One local candidate for the cash, Unjong, from Naman, said that he felt that the government had wasted the valuable working time of many people, by dragging them from their fields in this way.

He was one of the people who failed to get the cash, because he could not sit out the 4 day wait created by the enormous queues. “I couldn’t afford lodging”, he said.

Revealing BN’s traditional tactics of election bribery the villager added: “During election time they usually come with a helicopter or a 4-wheel drive to give us our money, so why couldn’t they do the same this time?!”

Opposition leaders are also concerned about information they have received that Sarawak’s BN  party are planning to abuse the system by allowing their own YBs to issue the vouchers when they visit their areas during election ceramahs.

YB Chong Chieng Jen has complained to producers that it was unacceptable for BN politicians to be allowed to attempt to curry favour in this way, as if the money was some personal gift by the party, rather than a budget allocation by the state of taxpayers’ money.

Needless to say, opposition YBs have not been approached to take part in such hand-outs!

Friday, January 20

Reply from Dr. Elli Luhat

On the issue raised by YB Baru Bian, I would like to put to the record straight.  I appreciate the response from him.  He is among thousands of people who responded after the report of the seed adoption programme came out.

I believe this is a positive response, especially from YB Baru.  I thank him for that.

Clonal rubber seeds do not exist. Clonal seeds are rubber seeds collected from rubber trees. People like YB Baru need clarification. I know that he got his information from someone who claimed to be an expert. To me that someone is bogus expert.

What do not exist are cloned seeds. The seeds cannot be cloned. They do not exist. But clonal seeds do exist. There are no scientific methods how to clone the seeds. People who say it can be done are bogus people.

Why I said that because this guy called me and he sounded like a foreigner. And he started talking to me about rubber. I told him that if he has experience and technology please come forward.  I told him that I will help him to recommend his work to Lembaga Getah Malaysia (LGM). I told him that if he has the technology, I make sure that being a member of the Malaysian Rubber Board we will get it patented.  He will be paid premium for it. He slammed the phone down. That was the first encounter with the bogus expert.

Another instance when I met bogus experts who tried to manipulate me. He said that his technology comes from China. And they came to talk to me about their technology that can produce rubber seeds from rubber seeds using hormones.  They told me they inject hormones into the seeds and that it will make millions of seeds for 1Malaysia rubber.

I ask for proof of their work. They walked out from my office.

The third instance when I met people from the land of the rising sun. They told me that they have a technology how to clone rubber and produce millions and millions of seedlings to produce 1Malaysia rubber. They use the tissue culture technology. I ask them whether it can be done.

I told them I have been doing this tissue culture during my academic life.  No doubt we can produce millions of planting materials. It can only apply to plants like orchids and pitcher plants, because these plants don’t have main roots. (tunjang). Can you prove to me that it can be done to rubber trees? We know that rubber trees have main roots. They just left. They could not bluff me.

They come and talk to me, but they cannot convince me. And then they turn to politicians trying to influence them.

YB Baru could have been informed by these people. Just imagine people from Japan, China and England to tell us that they have a technology to plant rubber, when there is no rubber trees in their countries.

DLT does not have a licence from LGM. I buy my parent trees from LGM. DLT also does not have any funding from LGM. I would like to give free to the farmers, but I have my limit.

LGM is only assisting farmers in term of technology. It commercializes and patents its technology. If you want some funding, you either go to RISDA or Department of Agriculture.

DLT is a private company and has nothing to do with government projects. It has the heart to supply clonal seeds under its adoption programme to the farmers who can promise DLT that they can undertake the projects. One of the conditions is that they must get rubber bud eyes from DLT for the bud-grafting.

I hope my explanation will clear the air.

Thursday, January 19

Clonal Rubber Seeds stolen
LET ME EXPLAIN: Elli (right) shows reporters the 1Malaysia Clonal Rubber seedlings after the press conference.

KUCHING: Dr. Elli Luhat of DLT group of companies has reported to the Police the loss of about 24 tons of clonal rubber seeds worth about RM27.6 million.

The seeds kept at two places - six tons of about 1.4 million rubber clonal seeds at Ark BIO Sdn Bhd (Grow Centre) Kpg. Sri Temenggong, Jalan Telaga Air, Kuching, and 18 tons of about 4.1 million rubber clonal seeds at Lot 1378, Section 66, Pending Industrial Estate, Jalan Buroh, Bintawa, Kuching – were discovered stolen in the afternoon of January 17, 2012.

Elli said that the seeds were ready for distribution to farmers for their 1Malaysia clonal rubber  seeds.

According to him, the Police have alerted their counterparts in other divisions.

He advised farmers that anyone who wanted to sell clonal rubber seeds to them should immediately contact the Police.

DLT group of companies is one of the two that are involved in the supply of clonal rubber seeds.

He has so far distributed two millions of the seeds. 

Wednesday, January 18

Mawan expels the remaining four

KUCHING:  The President of Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party William Mawan Ikom has formally sacked the remaining four of the group which called themselves as ‘SPDP 5’ apparently ending a two-year old crisis in the party.

“They are sacked from the party and by implication they are no longer members of Barisan Nasional.

“The decision is regrettable, but you know I have been holding back (the decision), because I don’t like to do the thing that we don’t like to do.

“But sometimes a decision will have to be made in order to do justice to ourselves, to the party and to the Barisan Nasional and probably to the four,” he said after chairing the party’s supreme council meeting.

The four who are elected representatives are Tiki Lafe, (Mas Gading MP), Peter Nansian, (Tasik Biru assemblyman), Rosey Yunus (Bekenu) and Paulus Gumbang (Batu Danau).

The leader of the group, Sylvester Entri, Marudi assemblyman, was sacked in November last year.

All the five have expressed no confidence in the SPDP leadership after they walked out from the party’s supreme council meeting in January in 2010 following a major disagreement over the replacement and appointment of Secretary General.

Since then they had failed to attend the party’s supreme council meetings even though they had been invited to do so.

In announcing the expulsion, Mawan said:  “We wish them all the best.  We know that as far as SPDP is concerned, they are no longer members of the SPDP and by implication they are no longer members of Barisan Nasional.

“But if they profess to continue to support BN, that is well and good. But it should not within the definition of the BN framework, the understanding and the BN teamwork,” he said.

Regarding the formation of BN club by the five, Mawan said that he was not sure whether they as members of the club are members of the Barisan Nasional.

“We have various BN clubs and political clubs even in universities in London. But with regard to those who were once belonging to component parties and have resigned or sacked, I am not sure at the moment whether they still can continue to form an entity.

“We can acknowledge the existence of the support group, but not as an entity. It is not in line with the principle and understanding of Barisan Nasional. Otherwise it can set a dangerous precedent.

 “I shudder to think of the consequences,” Mawan added.

On the question of Chief Minister expressing support for the group forming a club, Mawan said that all component parties wanted BN to be strong and wanted everyone to support the Barisan Nasional.

“But he (Chief Minister) did not say that he formally recognised the legal existence of the club. Certainly the Prime Minister, the Chief Minister and even I cannot refuse the support given by those even by those who have been sacked, except that we cannot formally say that their entity is legal in the context of the existing principle of Barisan Nasional.

“You cannot deviate from that,” Mawan said.

He made it very clear that his party would oppose the group joining any member party of the Barisan Nasional or even ‘parking’ with any party in Barisan.

“It is not the question whether we support them or not joining any other party in the Barisan. It is never the case. That is understood long time ago.

‘Anybody who said otherwise is on purpose.  Not because they don’t know. They just like to say it in order to confuse the people for their own ends,” he said.

Mawan, who is Social Development Minister, was apparently referring to the President of Parti Rakyat Sarawak James Masing who had invited the five to join his party or to be ‘parked’ for the time being.

Meanwhile, Mawan has identified three possible persons as potential candidates to replace Tiki in the Mas Gading parliamentary constituency.

The three are Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Tourism Ik Pahon Joyik, Sarawak Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority (Salcra) deputy general manager Anthony Nogeh and Zecon general manager Rayan Narong.

The three were introduced to the public over a dinner over the week-end in Bau.