Thursday, June 30, 2011

Chief Minister Taib Boldly Denies Accusations, Promises Transparency That Rewcastle Brown and Bruno Manser Fund Cannot Show

The last refuge of an electoral loser is the courts. So it is that after handily leading Sarawak’s Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition to yet another two-thirds-majority victory in the April elections here, the host of well-funded groups determined to help Sarawak’s incompetent opposition into power at the expense of the state’s development were forced to turn to foreign powers with the same fabrications on which Sarawak Report, Clare Rewcastle Brown, and their cohort had placed their electoral hopes. After enough sympathetic noise from the sorts of non-governmental organizations that believe it is better for men to die before they reach their fortieth year than that a single poisonous insect die by man’s hand, the Malaysian government and a Swiss regulatory body opened investigations into the allegations, investigations which will certainly come to no more than yet another failed attempt to overthrow Sarawak’s recent elections by other means.

Nevertheless, all of this sturm und drang has begun to interfere with the governance of Sarawak, including the Chief Minister’s succession plans — together with continued economic progress, a centerpiece of Chief Minister Taib’s electoral platform. If he had nothing to hide, his critics charged, why has the Chief Minister remained largely silent on these allegations since the election? (Obviously, his opponents ignored his answer to these challenges months ago.) Surely, if he had something to hide, Chief Minister Taib would remain silent? Or quickly name a successor, step down, and sit on the piles of ill-gotten wealth his critics allege he’s hiding?

Of course, he did nothing of the sort. Instead, he has stepped up to the plate and once again promised full disclosure. Why shouldn’t he? The accusations are beneath him, but this is clearly a man with nothing to hide.

On the general allegations against him:

Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud said he would give his full cooperation to the Swiss Federation to clear his name and that of the Sarawak government over allegations of timber corruption by the Bruno Manser Foundation (BMF).

He said his attention had been drawn to the recent allegations by BMF which claimed that the Swiss Anti-Corruption Agency might possibly investigate him and freeze assets belonging to him in Switzerland.

“Let me state categorically that I have no secret Swiss bank account nor asset or investment of any description in Swizerland. None whatsoever,” he said in his personal explanation at the State Legislative Assembly sitting in Petra Jaya, here, Wednesday.

On the source of the allegations:

He said the allegations had since been used by local politicians to advance their own political agenda against him and the state government, which had once again obtained a strong mandate from the people through the state election in April.

“The BMF has a track record of scurillous and scandalous allegations against the Sarawak government for many years, including the allegation of felling 90 per cent of our rainforest although local and international forest experts have certified that 70 per cent of the forest is still being preserved and sustainably managed.

“Therefore, BMF’s false allegations about assets held in Switzerland by me is a continuation of its malicious effort to smear the state government and leaders,” he added.

It was here that the Chief Minister once again threw down his glove, demanding some proof of wrongdoing — a classic “put up or shut up” moment.

“Indeed I have stated in clear and unequivocal terms in a letter addressed by me last month to Swiss Federation president Micheline Calmy-Rey to confirm if she had allegedly ordered any investigation into the allegations by BMF,” he said, adding that BMF was a foreign non-governmental organisation that was not at all accountable to the people of Sarawak.

Taib had also asked the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (Finma) to furnish him with a copy of the allegations to enable him to exercise his rights to seek and obtain appropriate legal redress.

In pledging his full cooperation to the Swiss Federation “to swiftly bring the truth to light so as to nail down all malicious falsehood”, he reiterated that the allegations by BMF were false and evidently, politically motivated.

It simply does not get plainer than this. His opponents claim that he owns everything from one of the FBI’s buildings to undue influence over super-financial institution Deutsche Bank, thereby making him perhaps the most powerful man on Earth. If these things are true, rather than mere libels, then the burden lies on his accusers now: Provide proof. The Chief Minister has offered complete transparency; will his opponents do the same?

The answer is self-evident: They are trying to overturn a fair and free election, not take part in transparent legal processes. When all of the investigations are through; when the Chief Minister’s pledge of openness and respect for the rule of law is once again met by the sound of silence; when governance in Sarawak once again turns to BN’s record of phenomenal development and growth — the opposition, whether the formal political parties or their online mouthpieces, will simply try another route to getting a governing result they like without the messiness of an election.

And once again, they will fail.

Bakun Dam’s First Run Flawless

Bakun Dam, the world’s second-highest concrete and rock filled dam, has “awakened” after 15 years of painstaking construction.

The dam’s heart, its electricity-generation plant, beat for one-and-a-half hours two days ago after it was switched on for the first time in a pioneer test run.

The generating unit worked and Bakun produced power for the first time.

Sarawak Hidro, the Federal Government-owned company under the Ministry of Finance Incorporated which manages the dam, tested the generating equipment for 90 minutes and everything ran smoothly.

Speaking to The Star yesterday, Sarawak Hidro managing director and chief engineer Zulkifle Osman described the event as historic.

“The test run started … we switched on the generating system for the first time for one-and-a-half hours.

“Throughout the period, it ran smoothly without any hitches.

“The wet and commissioning testing of the first unit will go on and we expect to test the synchronisation of the main system (main grid) this week.

“It is a very delicate period for the Bakun Dam and a very exciting one too because it signals the start of the functioning of the dam.

“So far, so good. We (engineers and staff) are happy with the very smooth start,” he said.

Zulkifle said that this week would be exciting because tests of the other components of the power-generating process would be carried out.

On the flooding of the main dam reservoir, he said the water level was beyond the 200m mark.

The minimum operating mark of 195m was attained on April 28.

This means that the water in the reservoir was high enough to flow into the water-intake plant to be channelled into the power-generating house to turn the generating turbines.

There are eight generating turbines, each capable of producing 300MWs of electricity. When all eight are in operation, a total of 2,400MWs of power can be produced at any one time.

Zulkifle said that 501sq km of the Bakun Valley had been flooded.

“There are at least 27.7 billion cubic metres of water in the reservoir,” he said.

He pointed out that the natives affected by the dam project had been fully involved in the latest developments in the region.

They had been hired to collect timber debris from the reservoir, for which they were paid “a good deal”.

The reservoir, comparable in the size to the whole of Singapore island, is the biggest man-made lake in South-East Asia.

Anwar Ibrahim’s Failures Add Up in Sarawak

In Malaysia, the Pakatan Raykat opposition coalition assembled by Muslim Brotherhood enabler Anwar Ibrahim shows more signs of coming apart at the seams. Last month, Anwar publicly alienated the Sarawak National Party (SNAP) by making false claims about a written agreement he had with SNAP leadership about the allocation of seats. Still, Anwar had hoped to nonetheless bring SNAP into his coalition by a proposed merger with the Democratic Action Party (DAP). However, that has also fallen through:

SNAP has ruled out any possibility of a merger with DAP, putting to rest weeks of speculations on the proposed (merger) plan.

“Merger is totally out of the question because it is not workable. What we are looking forward to is the cooperation between SNAP and DAP,” its vice-president Johnny Wong Sie Lee said when contacted yesterday.

With this disclosure, the second round of the so-called proposed negotiation may not see the light of day.

It is not difficult to guess that the prospect of joining a coalition with Anwar Ibrahim at the helm may have given SNAP pause, especially after the widely publicized blowup in which Anwar called them liars last month. Of course, this prospect raises yet another problem which Pakatan now faces: no one really knows who will be in charge if Pakatan unseats the UMNO-led coalition in the upcoming elections. Pakatan has failed to announce a shadow cabinet or even propose a Prime Minister:

The MCA has challenged Pakatan Rakyat to explain why it is still unable to announce its shadow Cabinet three years after the general election, saying it was clear that the opposition parties could not agree on fundamental issues.

Party deputy president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said PKR, PAS and DAP did not have consensus in many areas, particularly on basic policies on the running of the country.

Indeed, it is hard to imagine what a hard-line Islamist party (PAS), a party of Chinese émigrés (DAP) and a leftist Islamic party (PKR) might possibly have in common in terms of an actual governing agenda. The most likely answer, of course, is that the various parties of the Pakatan Raykat coalition have absolutely nothing in common other than the fact that they want a bigger slice of the pie when it comes to control of the government, and are tired of being shut out by BN.

This, of course, is not the basis for a governing coalition. In the unlikely event that Pakatan wins, these sorts of questions will have to be addressed: to what extent will they cave to the hard-line demands of PAS’s constituency? How will the Chinese power base of DAP respond to these attempts? Where does PKR fit into the equation?

Ultimately, of course, these sort of rifts crop up out of a failure of vision. Anwar Ibrahim, who cobbled this coalition together, has never concocted or articulated a vision of what Pakatan actually stands for, other than not being BN. As a result, Pakatan has never been forced to confront what sorts of people or policies will help them reach their goals – since they don’t know what those goals are.

Thus, the only thing he has to trade on is access to power in the event of a Pakatan victory – which can lead to some undesirable results whenever one of the factions you are courting (like SNAP) feels that their piece of the pie is insultingly small.

These are not insurmountable problems for a leader of skill and vision. It is increasingly clear that Anwar Ibrahim is a man possessed of neither.

SCORE Continues to Score: Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy a Bastion of Economic Development

The Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE)–derided by faux environmentalists like Gordon Brown and Clare Rewcastle Brown–has secured 13 projects with a combined investment of RM26.36 billion. This translates into 9,700 jobs, and the creation of a host of businesses, thus further improving Sarawak’s economy.

We still await word of similar positive contributions to Sarawak’s economy and quality of life from the failed British prime minister–who couldn’t deliver on these issues for his own people, and got thrown out of office as a consequence. If Gordon and Clare Rewcastle Brown can make such contributions to the people of Sarawak, perhaps then, their commentary on Sarawak’s internal affairs can be taken seriously.

Until then, however, we shouldn’t be the only ones asking questions about their standing to discuss issues affecting Sarawak and its people.

Friday, January 7, 2011

1Malaysia 1Sarawak

Kebelakangan ini banyak terdengar suara-suara kecil tetapi lantang untuk menyuarakan pendapat menerusi internet yang membantah dan membangkang kerajaan Barisan Nasional di Sarawak. Kebanyakan pendapat ini terlalu keras dan kedengaran tidak bertanggungjawab yakni seolah-olah mahukan perubahan yang mendadak dan akan menimbulkan perbalahan sesama rakyat Sarawak sendiri. Walaupun pendapat ini adalah suara hati sesetengah golongan yang mahukan Sarawak maju, tetapi kemajuan yang mereka mahukan ini perlu dibayar dengan pelbagai bentuk kesusahan dan keperitan sekiranya dilaksanakan tanpa mengambil kira kepentingan golongan yang lain. Mereka yang mempunyai pendapat yang bercanggah dengan rancangan kerajaan ini biasanya terdiri dari golongan yang berpendidikan tinggi dan golongan yang membangkang kerajaan kerana gagal mengambil jawatan tinggi Kerajaan Sarawak. Bagi golongan berpendidikan tinggi ini, mereka berpendapat Kerajaan BN Sarawak tidak memajukan Sarawak seperti kebanyakan tempat yang bukan di Malaysia. Mereka mahukan Sarawak mempunyai kemajuan yang canggih dan berteknologi tinggi seperti Amerika atau negara-negara Eropah. Kemajuan yang sedemikian adalah sesuatu yang sangat-sangat tidak sesuai dengan rakyat Sarawak kerana mereka belum bersedia menerima perubahan yang terlalu drastik dan memusnahkan bumi Sarawak. Bagi golongan yang gagal mendapat jawatan tinggi dan penting di Sarawak pula, mereka ini seolah-olah tidak bertanggungjawab melemparkan bermacam-macam tohmahan, mengutuk dan mencaci kerajaan asalkan mereka puas hati dan mendapat sokongan tanpa memikirkan baik buruk setiap pendapat yang dikeluarkan. Kadang-kadang pendapat mereka ini sangat menghairankan dan sangat melucukan sehingga tidak terfikir oleh kebanyakan rakyat Sarawak sendiri. Tujuan mereka sangat ketara hanya untuk memburuk-burukan Kerajaan BN Sarawak.

Kerajaan Barisan Nasional Sarawak yang memerintah Sarawak selama ini diketuai Pehin Sri Taib Mahmud mengambil langkah sederhana memajukan Sarawak untuk kebaikan rakyat Sarawak sendiri, yakni tidak terlalu mengejar pembangunan yang mendadak dan kurang sesuai dengan budaya dan adat resam pelbagai kaum di Sarawak. Mereka sangat bergantung kepada hasil bumi Sarawak yang penuh dengan sumber-sumber pertanian dan hasil hutan. Kerajaan Sarawak juga mengambil pelbagai langkah untuk mengekalkan keharmonian penduduk Sarawak dengan mengambil kira kepentingan setiap kaum dari segi keagamaan, kebudayaan dan kehidupan sosial rakyat pelbagai kaum di Sarawak. Tahniah kepada Pehin Sri kerana selama beliau memimpin Kerajaan Sarawak tidak pernah berlaku perselisihan faham atau pertelingkahan antara kaum-kaum yang boleh dikatakan terbanyak dalam satu negeri yang kecil. Bukan sesuatu yang mudah tetapi hakikatnya Pehin Sri berjaya selama ini. Suatu hari rakyat Sarawak akan berterima kasih atas kejayaan ini kerana kemajuan atau teknologi yang seperti negara Barat bukanlah suatu impian yang mereka inginkan. Inilah sesuatu yang paling bermakna untuk generasi mereka dan anak-anak mereka. Keamanan, Kesejahteraan, Keharmonian dan Kestabilan. Empat perkara penting hadiah dari pemimpin ulung Sarawak, Pehin Sri Taib kepada seluruh rakyat Sarawak. Inilah asas dan dasar 1Malaysia yang dilaksanakan di Sarawak secara kita tidak sedari.

Mulai dari hari ini, saat ini dan ketika ini, bangunlah rakyat Sarawak dan sedarlah bahawa kita adalah generasi yang akan terus memperjuangkan slogan ini. 1Malaysia 1Sarawak!