Taken from Sarawak Report
As PM Najib Razak conducts his evaluation of BN’s record in Sarawak over this weekend, we recommend that he considers the shocking information revealed by our latest investigation into Taib’s Land Grabs. Over the past 3 years alone the Chief Minister has handed his own son, the fashion-dandy Mahmud Abu Bekir Taib, Native Customary Rights Lands totalling the area of Singapore – and all for FREE!
Much of the land has gone to the company set up for Mahmud called Titanium Management. Titanium Management has been the subject of numerous recent scandals because of the enormous number of public contracts that it has been handed without any tendering process by Taib’s government.
Titanium Management was even originally located in the office buildings of Taib’s own company CMS, which has itself scandalously stolen all Sarawak’s most profitable businesses. The fact that Titanium has now moved into its own fancy new office block called ‘Titanium Tower’, demonstrates the huge wealth it has absorbed in recent years owing to profits from these state contracts and also the Land Grabs which we have now identified, which are all worth hundreds of millions of ringgit.
However, besides Titanium Management, we have also identified numerous other companies that have received vast tracks of land which are also clearly controlled by Mahmud and his business partners Chris Chung and the former Director of Public Works Michael Ting. These are companies that are registered under the names of one or other of the three men and which, even more tellingly, are operated out of the same offices and use the same telephone number as Titanium Management!
In the case of my son the land should be given for FREE!
We have identified a raft of at least 14 companies which are clearly controlled by Mahmud Abu Bekir Taib’s Titanium Management, which have been secretly handed lands totalling more than 70,000 hectares. This is greater than the entire land mass of Singapore and much of the land is also in higly valuable urban development areas.
Even more scandalously in each and every case these lands have been handed to the companies under the category of so-called “Payment in Kind”. This is a polite way of saying that it has been given to Taib’s son for free!
Very few other hand outs of land have been quite so blatantly offered for free. Most beneficiaries of the Chief Minister’s Land Grab hand-outs are at least required to make a nominal payment at some future date. But when it comes to Taib’s son in every case the payment is waived!
While the Taibs plunder the people suffer
While the Prime Minister considers this mass plunder of Malaysia’s land mass by such a corrupt local politician and contemplates the fantastic wealth of Abdul Taib Mahmud, which so blatantly outstrips his own, he should contrast it with the poverty of the people living under Taib’s BN government in what should be the country’s richest state. Each and every land grab we have identified by the companies owned and controlled by Mahmud Taib represents poverty and misery for the native peoples, who once lived off these areas and who are the rightful owners through their established Native Customary Rights.
Over the next few weeks Sarawak Report will be investigating the consequences of all of these Land Grabs for the individual longhouse communities, who have been deprived of their territories, watched their trees torn down, their lands ploughed into oil palm and their rivers clogged by mud and pollution. All of these inhabitants were fobbed off at the time with BN promises about water, electricity, roads and new jobs and development. Yet, after 30 years of Taib’s rule virtually none of these promises have been fufilled for the native owners of the land.
Take Batang Ai
Let us as an example look at the situation facing the Iban longhouse people of Batang Ai. They were promised RM 70 million worth of improvements and expenditure by Taib and BN just before the by-election in 2009. In fact Taib made these promises publicly and printed them in the newspapers just the day before the voting!
This was a highly illegal thing to do and a blatant attempt to bribe the voters, for which Taib should face a jail sentence should he be brought to court. Nevertheless the voters would have done well not to have believed such offerings, since of course two years later none of these promises have been fulfilled! The local PKR spokesperson, Nicholas Bawin, told Sarawak Report that the people had not seen 2 ringgit let alone 70 million!
We contacted some of the longhouse communities who were forced from their homes by Taib Mahmud way back in 1983 to make way for the Hydro-electric dam (Taib and BN are now proposing to move a further 600,000 native people to build 12 more dams if they win the next election). The people of Batang Ai were encouraged into their new homes with promises of free running water and electricity, as well as jobs and development. We asked how well those promises have been carried out?
To our astonishment Sarawak Report has learnt that nearly 30 years after those promises were made many of the resettlement longhouses still have NO WATER! at Wong Pandak and Wong Panjai the people are still forced to gather their water from the rain off their roofs. Likewise, children at the boarding school of Naga Kesit have no running water to drink and at the Scheme 1 and Scheme 2 longhouses at Sebelaiu there is no water to bath in because the erosion from the palm plantations have clogged up their streams. Currently, even the clinic at the main town of Lubok Antu is without water! The people of the area say that as often as not they are forced to wash themselves in ditches.
Cut off from electricity
Also, like so many places in Sarawak, the poor families of Batang Ai are frequently cut off from their electricity, because they cannot pay the bills. This is despite the original promises that because they were going to forced from their homes for the hydro-electric dam they would be entitled to electricity for free! Such promises from Taib and BN and such lies!
Again the local people were promised profits from their lands which were taken into oil palm plantations. However, the profits have not come and the small areas they have been given to farm are often to far from their longhouses.
Like communities all over Sarawak, the people have found that their forests which provided them with food and shelter have been taken, but that all the wealth has gone elsewhere. Taib on the other hand has a very good record of fulfilling his promises and bringing vast wealth and development to a very small number of people. These are the members of his own family and his tiny circle of rich business partners.
The Chief Minister’s wealth and that of his family therefore contrast shockingly with the poverty of the people whose lands he has taken. This is the record that Prime Minister Najib should be contemplating as he considers BN’s Sarawak strategy towards the coming election. It is a record comparable to Robert Mugabe’s in Zimbabwe…. or Mr Mubarak’s in Egypt, or Tunisia’s Zine El Abidine Ben Ali or indeed Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has just declared that he will not attempt to try his people’s patience further by seeking another term after 30 years in power.
Time’s up for Taib
However, Taib seems to think he can do otherwise and that the people of Sarawak will welcome him to stay longer than 30 years and vote him in for another term of BN’s Land Grabbing Government. He thinks a new young wife can brush up his image and help him finish off the job of taking the whole of Sarawak for himself and his family (for free).
Yet, Sarawak is already aflame with Land Grab conflicts that have led to some 200 cases now fighting their way through the courts. How much more does Prime Minister Najib really think the people of Sarawak can take?
The profitability of the business of being a Bomoh has clearly been vastly under-estimated. Sarawak Report has now established that Taib’s spell-monger is in fact one of the wealthiest men in Sarawak! We can demonstrate that he personally owns hundreds of millions of ringgit of shares in one of the world’s biggest timber companies, Samling Global.
Samling, which claims to be the world’s largest supplier of tropical plywood, began as a family company belonging to Yaw Teck Seng and his sons in Sarawak. However, after decades of close relations with Taib Mahmud it has expanded across the world. The company’s latest Annual Report states that its consolidated global assets are worth $1.3 billion USD (around RM 3 billion) and this is at a period of very low market value.
The timber giant, which made its money cutting down the Sarawak rainforests thanks to the concessions granted by Taib, floated as a public company in 2007 on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. However, just a few weeks ago the Norwegian Government banned any further investment in Samling, after investigations showed the company to be involved in illegal logging and environmentally destructive activities. There have been numerous complaints by native peoples across Sarawak over Samling’s greedy plunder of their lands.
Bomoh’s shares worth RM 300 million!
Our investigations show that most of the company is still owned by the Yaws with only just one other major shareholder registered as holding over 5% of the company’s shares in 2010. This major shareholder is none other than Taib’s own Bomoh!! Bomoh Ahmad bin Haji Su’ut is listed as the owner of 5.5% of shares in Samling Global with a total ownership of 225,592,070 shares, which he holds in the name of his company Tapah Plantations! Did he get these shares by magic?
Samling Global’s Annual Report 2010 confirms quite clearly the fact that Su’ut is the owner of 5.5% of the company. Furthermore, the documents produced at the time of the company’s stock market launch in 2007 make clear that the Bomoh held the same 225,592,070 shares at that time also. Shortly after the launch the value of these shares reached a high of around $100 million USD. In ringgit at today’s rate that is an amazing RM300 million!
What is the truth?
These are breath-taking facts, but many onlookers wonder if all maybe not quite as it seems? Such is of course the case with most magic tricks and spells, which are only an illusion! Could it be that the Bomoh is acting merely a distraction, a mirage, a case of smoke and mirrors to mask the genuine transaction that has taken place? In short could it be that the Bomoh is acting as a proxy to disguise another far more likely owner of these hundreds of millions of ringgit worth of shares?
For many years this Bomoh acted as the well-known spiritual advisor and close confidant of the Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud. He performed regular black magic on his behalf and his brother in law is a very close friend indeed of Taib’s sister Zaleha. In return the Chief Minister has rewarded him with lands and concessions, as we exposed in our previous article. So we think it is only fair to ask whether indeed the Chief Minister might also have entrusted this Bomoh with the role of ‘front man’ in the case of this share ownership?
Sarawak Report has already exposed the Chief Minister’s habit of concealing his real ownership of shares by forcing the public owners to sign secret documents confirming that they are holding them in trust for him. We have documentary, signed evidence of this practise as his way of hiding his true ownership of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of property which is registered in the name of family members in the US. Could not the Bomoh have signed a similar document for his boss?
Some answers please
Since the whole state must be wondering at how such a lowly fellow as a spell-mongering Bomoh could have found the money to purchase such a vast shareholding in Samling, we turn to the circumstantial evidence. The Chief Minister is the person who over the last 30 years has exercised total control over the logging and oil palm plantation concessions which have been given to Samling. Is it really beyond the realms of possibility that these shares were a little ‘thankyou’ gift to the Bomoh’s master at the time of the company’s launch as a global public venture?
Sarawak Report already has evidence that two mansions in the United States passed from Samling to the Taibs. One of these transferred for the nominal cost of just US$ 1 dollar! Samling’s vast property holdings in the United Sates are also intriguingly linked to those of the Taibs.
Certainly, if it is not the case we would like to see a public denial. We have for months now attempted to gain an explanation for the Chief Minister’s fabulous wealth, as displayed by his string of properties and possessions across the world and his extravagant lifestyle, but we have received no answer. Therefore we feel forced to turn to the circumstantial evidence and require that the obvious conclusions be either denied or considered as confirmed.
In fact the Bomoh is not the only major shareholder associated with the Chief Minister registered by Samling Global. As part of its legal obligations as a public company the Initial Public Offering procedures in 2007 forced the company to reveal two other names that will be familiar to the people of Sarawak. Hamad bin Sepawi, the Chief Minister’s cousin, who has been frequently favoured with land concessions at the expense of the natives as well as numerous top jobs and contracts in the state is one. Another is Wan Morshidi Bin Tuanku Abdul Rahman, whose family is closely linked to Abdul Rahman Ya’kub, the previous Chief Minister, who originally equally favoured Samling with preferential concessions. Both Sepawi and Morshide ‘owned’ 5 of the company at the time of the launch, whereas the Bomoh ‘owned’ 5.44%.
The Bomoh, as we have shown, is certainly is hugely well-off and enjoys a very comfortable life-style. But the level of wealth he displays does not match the vast ownership of Samling shares that are in his name. With Abdul Taib Mahmud however it is a different matter and his fabulous life-style was never achieved on the RM20,000 or so a month that he officially earns in his capacity as Chief Minister of Sarawak!
We can confirm that more of the land that rightfully belongs to the natives of Sarawak has been grabbed by Taib’s cronies, this time as payment to one of his Bomoh’s, Ahmad bin Suut! Clearly the Chief Minister prefers to exploit the poor, rather than pay in his own hard cash for such black magic activities!
The area concerned is in the Bidayuh region of Serian, adjacent to the huge tracts of reserve forest, which Taib handed to his own sister Raziah at Ensengei. However, the gesture has ended up in a messy and damaging court case that has exposed the Chief Minister and his government to accusations of supporting a ‘con-man’. Suut now stands accused of trying to sell on his vast concessions without revealing the Native Customary Rights attached to the land!
- Top Bomoh, Ustaz, enjoying a trip in Taib’s taxpayer-funded personal jet !
It has been well-known in inner circles that Taib has employed a string of Bomohs over the years. Hj Ahmad bin hj Suut is just one of a motley crew that he has relied upon to help him with his decision-making. Indeed, the basement area of his huge mansion is widely reported to be crammed with alters and artifacts devoted to such superstition and black magic devilry!
As we previously exposed, for a considerable period the Chief Minister was in the thrall of a Pakistani Ustaz, organised by his brother Tufail. We can now also reveal that he currently favours a blond female ‘witch’, this time provided by his sister Raziah.
Ahmad bin Suut, on the other hand, is an Indonesian and his sister is married to his business partner Francis Tan. Tan publicly enjoys an extremely friendly relationship with Taib’s own sister Zaleha, who is also married.
The consulting of witch-doctors is of course banned by the Muslim faith and regarded with ridicule by educated people. Yet Taib is nevertheless clearly prepared to avail himself of the ‘Dark Arts’, particularly if he thinks he can frighten people with them. Bomohs like Suut claim that they are able to consult the spirits of the dead and fallen angels (Djinns), who can give them advice and power against their rivals and enemies. They indulge in numerous primitive practices to impress their clients.
Sarawak Report declares itself unfrightened by mean old men and women who call themselves Bomohs, but angered that poor people are being forced into paying for their spells.
Fast living Bomoh!
Hj Ahmad bin hj Suut, who is in his mid-50s and limps from polio, is particularly noted for his enjoyment of material things, despite his spiritual profession. He consults the ghosts of the dead for a living, but is known to own upwards of 15 luxury cars!
He also ran his own petrol station in central Kuching for a number of years, thanks to the kind concession gifted to him by his top client the Chief Minister. It was useful for filling up all his limousines and is also worth millions of ringgit. Everyone who has to use this petrol station can remember each time they fill up their tanks that they were subsidising the Bomoh of the Chief Minister!
Suut is also extremely fond of women. He has three official wives and is frequently seen in the company of other young ladies as well. All these tastes, as we all know, cost a great deal of money. However, he is clearly providing a service that the unaccountably wealthy Chief Minister has been happy for his citizens to pay for.
Insiders have told Sarawak Report that Suut’s ritual includes falling into a trance like state after steaming his eyes in a charcoal flame. One has observed:
“He will surface from the charcoal smoke, will predict, forecast and do whatever is prayed for”
We have learnt that Suut has worked for the Chief Minister since the 1990s, but is believed to have lately “lost the magic touch with the Big Boss”. However, during the course of his period in favour he managed to acquire several other business interests with further concessions in the timber and plantation businesses.
Land hand outs too
Sarawak Report has now established that one such recent concession, directly handed to him by Taib’s Land and Resources Ministry, has allowed him ownership of over a thousand hectares of land in the Bidayuh region of Serian.
The land was ’alienated’ from the native customary owners by Taib’s Planning and Resources Ministry and once again the Chief Minister handed it straight to a crony for a give-away price to be paid whenever convenient. This means that not only do the local people lose out, but the whole of Sarawak loses revenue, because the State has not even been paid the proper price for the land.
Suut did the deal in 2007, getting the area for well under a million ringgit. Conveniently it is stated in the Land Registry that it was been agreed that the Bomoh didn’t have to magic up the cash in advance of the acquisition, as he has been given 5 years to find a purchaser to sell it on to. It is common practice for Taib’s friends and family to be let off the premium until they have made their huge profit by selling on the land to a genuine plantation company! (very close relatives don’t have to pay a premium at all).
Once again the Native Customary Land Rights are ignored
As usual the Bidayuh communities of the area say they had no knowldedge of these decisions behind government closed doors until timber lorries turned up on their land and started to cut down their trees.
One of the land owners, Peter Runin, told us:
“They bought their machinery, but they were stopped by the Kampong people”
Runin explains that the people are very angry about what has happened and that they immediately hired the famous Native Land Rights lawyer and PKR opposition leader Baru Bian to fight the case through the courts.
Dawos chips in
“Everyone has chipped in to pay the legal fee”,
The campaigners told us that even their local YB State Representative, the BN Minister James Dawos, has contributed to the fighting fund against the decision by his own political boss to strip his constituents of their land. We wonder if this action was in defiance of Taib or supported by him?
Dawos has recently been exposed as one of the Crocodile bin Abdullah’s in a recent Sarawak Report expose and we are interested that on the one hand he is willing to crawl to BN , but on the other to curry favour with the victims of Taib’s policies with small contributions of money to try and keep their votes!
Dawos has claimed to have given RM 40,000 to the legal fighting fund, which is of course a mere fraction of the billions in profit that can be made out of the forests and lands that BN has taken from them. Sarawak Report wonders if Dawos’s contribution was actually also funded by Taib to try and prevent his actions losing BN the once safe seat? We also wonder if Dawos has not only converted to being a secret Muslim to please his boss, but has perhaps gone further. Does he also follow Taib in indulging in Bomoh black magic as well?
The action by Baru Bian has so far prevented any further robbery of the forests and the case comes to a full trial in June. Meanwhile, the Bomoh himself has found himself facing legal action from the Saw Mill company which had hoped to take out the timber from the area.
In order to make his quick profit from the concession Suut and his brother and law/ business partner Francis Tan (Tan Shaw Shyong) had sold on the rights to the wealthy businessman Sng Chee Hua for a cool RM 6 million ringgit. The company they used to take ownership of the concessions was called Poliga.
Sng claims the brothers in law had not warned him that the land in fact belonged to the native communities and was neither Taib’s to give nor Suut’s to sell on! Sng is also furious that Taib’s political crony, Michael Manyin Jawong, had encouraged him to go ahead and take on the Bomoh’s concession without warning him of the problems with the land. Since Bomoh Suut and Francis Tan are refusing to return the money Sng is now suing them for deception!
A close friend of the multi-millionaire businessman has told Sarawak Report that in his view Ahmad Suut is nothing more than a ‘Conman’.
- An ‘evil’ Bomoh thingy! The only thing that is really frightening is that the Chief Minister believes this stuff and he hopes if he keeps people away from proper school then they will too!
As all our religions teach us, the activities of Bomoh’s are a load of malign rubbish. The only real harm they can do is to cause considerable mischief and to waste the country a great deal of money. This situation has been particularly injurious to the poor local people of Munggu Kupi, Serian, whose land has been grabbed in order to pay off the grasping and greedy Ahmad bin Suut.
It is an outrage that a Chief Minister should allow himself to be beguiled by such dangerous nonsence.
Thirty years of such silly sorcery has to be enough. Can Sarawak please be allowed to join the rest of the modern world?
The man pictured in the party-buggy sitting next to the Deputy Chief Minister, Alfred Jabu, is a Greek called Achilleas Kallakis. This was in April 2008 and Kallakis was already a man with a criminal record. Back in 1995 he and a colleague, Alexander Williams, had been convicted in the UK of selling false Hong Kong passports for RM 100 thousand each and also for selling fake Lordship titles to Americans for nearly twice that amount!
However, the pair had escaped jail and by this occasion Kallakis had wormed his way back into a position of apparent super-respectability. He was visiting the Taib family’s 5 Star Royal Mulu resort as one of a party of honoured guests accompanying Prince Albert on a highly publicised visit to Sarawak. By now he had been appointed Consul to Brunei for the Italian principality of San Marino, was on the Board of the National Portrait Gallery in London and had become a member of the Prince Albert of Monaco Foundation, which is dedicated to the environment!
It would appear that the basis for Kallakis’s new-found social status was his sudden reputation as a very wealthy man. Just that month he had rocketed into Britain’s Sunday Times Rich List as one of the top 400 wealthiest people in the UK. The newspaper estimated his worth at at least £250 million (RM 1.2 billion) – a staggering achievement for a man who had been caught out as a cheap fraudster just a decade ago!
Where did he suddenly get the money?
Interestingly, the Sunday Times also stated foundation of his wealth as being his position as Chairman of a “Monaco and Switzerland-based private family trust” and his Directorship of the Pacific Group, which had accumulated an eye-watering portfolio of key landmark buildings across London. According to the newspaper the then 40 year old was planning to build the most expensive flat in London, at St James’s Square.
By 2008 Mr Kallakis had also started to develop a public profile, earning a reputation for himself as a fast-living and gambling high-roller. He travelled by chauffeur-driven Bentley and private jet, owned a yaght and smart residences in London and Monaco. Acquaintances said he was always travelling somewhere in the world, however the background to his success remained a little unclear to those with whom he shared champagne in some of the world’s top hotels.
My backers are ”so wealthy they don’t even appear in Forbes Magazine!”
While the claims of family links to a Greek shipping dynasty are believed to be false, Kallakis had once boasted to reporters from the magazine Property Week that his backers were a Monaco and Swiss-based family trust – investors who were ”so wealthy they don’t even appear in Forbes”. Given his intimate ties with Prince Albert and the Taib family, Sarawak Report questions who these backers might be and why so many of Kallakis’s links tie back to Sarawak, Malaysia, Brunei and Hong Kong?
We can also reveal that Kallakis’s new moment in the sun was spectacularly short-lived. Shortly after this Mulu visit his affairs began to unravel and he once again faces charges of fraud. This time the charges are far more serious. In March 2009 his London offices were raided and he and the same business partner Alexander Williams were found to have raised £61 million in mortgages, which were backed by false guarantees and forged documents. They are now awaiting trial on multiple charges of property fraud in a case which is still being investigated by Britain’s Serious Fraud Squad.
Interestingly however, while he has now been dropped from the Prince of Monaco’s Foundation, Kallakis remains up till the date of our publication prominently displayed on the Royal Mulu website as one of the main recommenders of the resort.
“Absolutely perfect, wonderful hotel, wonderful staff, wonderful company”
The Royal Mulu website has continued more than a year after his arrest to feature Kallakis as one of the party of honoured guests accompanying Prince Albert of Monaco on his visit to Sarawak. He is one of four individuals who provide recommendations for the hotel. The others are Prince Albert himself, Mrs Evelyne Genta (the Director of his Foundation and Monaco’s Consul to London) and Mr Francesco Bongiovanni, President of the Monaco-Asia Association.
The Monaco connection
This visit to Mulu was only one of a number of close connections between the current leaders of Sarawak and Monaco that have caught the attention on on-lookers in recent months. In fact, one can only wonder at the sudden apparent friendship that has developed between Prince Albert, as a self-professed environmental campaigner, and the Taib family, who are notorious for their destruction and plunder of the Borneo Rainforest. There have been numerous visits by the Taibs to Monaco recorded in magazines like Asian Tatler (below) and party photos and the Taibs are believed to have acquired property in the sea-side tax haven and gamblers paradise.
However, given that the slightest investigation on the Prince’s part would have exposed Taib Mahmud as being both environmentally toxic and notoriously corrupt, Albert’s own visit to Mulu can only be described as an astonishing misjudgement. His staff, led by Evelyne Genta, Director of The Prince Albert Foundation, cannot have failed to spot the well-documented fact that Taib first confiscated the land from the Berawan Tribe and then proceeded to hand it to his own family company in order to build and manage the resort. Not only are his own sister Raziah and her 3rd husband Robert Geneid in charge of the company Borsamulu Resort, but we have recently revealed Taib himself owns a substantial shareholding as well!
Albert’s staff should also have been aware that the conflict of interest on Taib’s part does not end here. In a characteristic fashion he has also involved the Government of Sarawak in a joint venture with the resort, meaning that public funds are being used to support the Mahmud family in running their own investment! Worse, the extensive logging sponsored by Taib in the lands surrounding Mulu has also destroyed most of the wildlife in the area and driven the forest peoples, including the Penan tribe from their
traditional hunting grounds. These iconic peoples now exist in starving conditions in shabby compounds with little hope or occupation.
As Prince Albert must also be aware, UNESCO is currently reviewing its granting of World Heritage status to the area for these very reasons and also because the Chief Minster is now planning to inundate much of the region as part of his vast dam projects.
One of my country’s top investors
Nevertheless, Albert did make the visit, which as Sarawakians will remember, was treated as a major event by the Sarawak Government. He was welcomed and entertained at Mulu by the Chief Minister’s right hand man Alfred Jabu and also Taib’s brother in law Robert Geneid. According to photographs the Prince clearly threw himself into the lavish entertainment, which was decorated by traditional shows from the very Berawan people who have been deprived of their lands. Albert also visited Kuching for a State Banquet, which was hosted by Taib Mahmud himself.
Yet puzzlingly, when journalists asked him the question why he had chosen to come he is reported to have answered “Why should I not visit one of my country’s biggest investors?”. Sarawak Report therefore wishes to know what is the evidence that Sarawak holds such large investments in the well-known gambling and tax-haven that makes up his tiny sea-side principality in the South of France? Also, how will these investments in what is known as a top place for individuals to hide money benefit the citizens of Sarawak?
Taib’s Islamic Fashion Show
None of the recent events linking the Taibs with the ruling family of Monaco have been more eye-catching than the Taib-sponsored Islamic Fashion Show held last August to raise money for the Prince’s ‘environment’ fund. Once again there are numerous pictures and videos available. They show both Prime Minister Najib and his wife Rosmah in attendance, along with the Prince himself and once more Evelyne Genta, who gave a speech in her capacity as Director of the Prince Albert Foundation, which is ‘dedicated to the environment and sustainable development’.
CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO OF “just call me and I will come running – you got a friend”, starring Prince Albert and Taib Mahmud.
Any money raised from Sarawak for this fund will of course have been raised from the unsustainable destruction of one of the world’s last remaining tropical jungles over the past 30 years, thanks to Abdul Taib Mahmud, who was a guest of honour at the event and stood centre stage at the finale. It is believed that all the money to foot the bill for this lavish occasion was raised through Taib’s business contacts. This reportedly also included the RM1 Million cheque presented to the Prince by the Malaysian Prime Minister’s wife!
Achilleas Kallakis was the only member of the Mulu original party guests who was not reunited here on the stage in Monaco. He remains unfortunately on police bail in the UK awaiting trial for very serious property fraud. However, the properties belonging to his companies have continued to catch the eye of the media. The sheer size of his massive portfolio, which included UK government offices, shopping centres, housing and several landmark buildings have raised many queries about who the real owner could be. Even more interesting has been the hasty re-assembling of this property portfolio under by another company after the Kallakis Group disbanded.
Sarawak Report suggests that the connections between Taib Mahmud, Achilleas Kallakis, Evelyne Genta and Prince Albert of Monaco do not appear to be coincidental. The Prince was seeking financial support and the Chief Minister was likewise seeking something that the Monaco tax haven with its lax financial regulations has to offer, which is discreet banking. This all the more so since the previous country of choice for shy billionaires, Switzerland, has started to tighten scrutiny of its bank accounts.
Taib, who used to frequently visit his dentist in Switzerland is now seen so much more often in Monaco with his family that one wonders if maybe it is due to his dentist moving south?
[By Our Guest Writer from Asian Tatler Magazine]
- Mixing business with partying – an example for Sarawak’s womanhood?
We all love to admire this well-connected socialite and businesswoman, Elia Abas/ Geneid! She may look like a barely-dressed party girl, but Elia was scarcely into her 20s by the time she had established herself as a major figure in the oil palm plantation business, with a series of multi-million ringgit concessions all to herself!
But, of course the gorgeous young trend-setter is also Chief Minister Taib Mahmud’s neice and therefore has several brilliant (if hidden) attributes. Indeed, the Taib family has provided endless shining examples for the rest of Sarawak’s youth, showing how to seize the many ‘Equal Opportunities’ that are handed to them through government projects!
As Taib exhorts the rest of the nation’s young people to show more energy and initiative and to work their way out of poverty, he can be proud of how all his nieces and nephews have been so successful in demonstrating the path to riches
The party-scene will miss you Elia!
Even more amazingly, Elia has been able to turn herself into a multi-millionairess, while at the same time managing to spend so much time publicly partying and carrying on with goodness-knows how many chaps! Two marriages and three engagements in two years is pretty good going for such a young thing!
- Demure look for wedding No 1 (the marriage lasted 2 months)
Isn’t it lucky she has made so much money that she can pay for the millions of ringgit that has been spent in celebrating it all? “Work hard and play hard” is clearly the motto that has been drummed into the mini-Taibs from an early age by their stern Uncle (the Chief Minister himself!!!). [See our earlier reports with pictures on these lavish events] and [More here!]
So, what do we know about Elia’s business career and how she has maximised the opportunities which are on offer to her and also of course to others? Well, in 2008 Elia managed to secure an amazingly good deal with the Land Custody and Development Agency (LCDA) that happens to be controlled by her Uncle Taib. She spotted the opportunity, whereas others were so slow and lazy that they never even knew that the land was available!
In fact the eagle-eyed Elia had worked out that nearly 10,000 hectares of land had been removed from Native Customary Land owners in Tatau, Bintulu without them even having realised the situation! She moved double-quick and (presumably because nobody else had yet expressed an interest in the land) she was able to pick it up for a mere snitch at just RM5.5 million. This was a fraction of its real value of course and she arranged for it to be paid in installments later! What a hard business brain!!
‘Stupid’ Iban natives miss out!
Sarawak Report has made enquiries and discovered that the Iban communities of Tatau had their land alienated by Taib in 1996. The stupid things are so poor they claim they could not afford a lawyer to fight their case, so how do they ever expect to take advantage of the opportunities Taib so kindly makes available to them? Quite rightly, Taib has once again this week denounced as ‘crabs’ (?) those people who criticise the wealth of go-getters like Elia and the rest of his family members. In fact he has made so many speeches denouncing the critics of his wealth we really think this must be the key platform on which he wishes to fight the coming election. We have such a clever Chief Minister – three cheers for all your wealth and let us remind everyone about it and how cleverly you accumulated it!
Once the Ibans had lost their lands, Taib sold the timber concession to Borneo Pulp and Paper, who chopped down the 150 million year old jungle (the oldest in the world by the way) and turned it into …. well pulp and paper. Then in 2008 it was Elia’s chance to show her quick-witted gumption. She rounded up RM5.5 million (from her piggy bank?) and made the purchase before anyone else could get to hear about it. Well, no one else was going to hear about it actually, because in his ‘land of equal opportunity’ Taib likes to hand these concessions out privately… to his family.
Minda from Sugai Anap (son of the former Pengulu Jipun) is a spokesmen for the Iban longhouse communities who have lost their livelihoods because of this development. He expressed astonishment on learning that the young Elia now has the concession for his lands. He told us
“We received a letter from the British in the past to say this was our area, but the Government has now told us this is not relevant anymore. To begin with the company came and paid the 4 headmen to keep quiet, but when they came with their bulldozers we made a police report. This matter is in discussion now”.
Ikrar Bumi Sdn Bhd
Elia managed to secure a series of so-called ‘Provisional Licences’ to turn the whole area into an oil palm plantation between 2008 and 2009 – the deal was finalised in March last year. The licences are provisional, because in theory the local people who have Native Customary Rights in the area need to be brought into agreement about it. But nobody really takes any notice of these useless types – no commercial instinct, basically lazy.
The company under which Elia has secured this huge land-bank is called Ikrar Bumi Sdn Bhd. Coincidentally, it is registered at the headquarters address of Parabena, a company run by her mother Raziah Mahmud who is Taib’s sister. Taib himself has shares in Parabena and this company has received a large number of valuable Government contracts and concessions. We have calculated that the sister companies registered at Parabena address have received lands totalling an area of about half the size of Brunei! What a truely amazing family?!
Of course Elia is a very young lady, so the person who has actually been doing the boring work of dealing with the land registry on her behalf is shown in the official records to be one Joanna Kho, who happens to be her Mum’s secretary. Kho gives her telephone number as the main number for Parabena Sd Bhd.
But there is no doubt as to whom the beneficiary of all this is. Elia is her mother’s second child, born during the first of her three marriages. Therefore her actual name is Elia Abas, the name of Raziah’s first husband. Elia Abas is a Director of Ikrar Bumi, as is her mother. She also owns 998 of 1,000 shares of the company! Gosh!
Elia’s business acumen is further demonstrated by the fact that although Ikrar Bumi had only RM1,000 in shareholder capital, she has been able to convince her Uncle Taib that it is acceptable to purchase a RM5.5 million state asset with only a promise of future payment. Why cannot the rest of Sarawak’s youth just buck up and take notice and follow this shining example? We should all feel ashamed to be poor when Elia manages to be so fabulously rich!
Where she will make her money?
However, Elia is still to close the deal by transferring her new lands for a multi-million profit to another gneuine plantation company which can actually get down to the business of sorting out any complaints from the natives and digging up their lands to plant oil palm. After all you can’t really expect a pretty, rich girl of such quality like her to dirty her hands with an actual job!
Normally, any protests about the ‘provisional licence’ sold on by the likes of Elia have been easily dealt with by such second parties. They just lie. The natives are told they have no rights and that the licence is not provisional, but a full licence to log and then plant the land. The stupid fellows are led to believe that they are not elegible for more than a few ringgit compensation! If they do kick up a fuss, well then the gangsters move in and the police turn a blind eye until the issue is sorted out.
Well that is business for you and it is how the Taibs take advantage of their opportunities. You really do have to admire how clever they are, really don’t you? Amazing! But, in fact, we are getting just a little bit worried on behalf of the stylish Elia. By this time, as the practice goes, she should have long-since washed her hands of the matter and sold on the licence to one of these enforcers for a fat profit.
But is the gravy train coming to an end for the Taibs?
- Victors against Raziah’s Quality Concrete – the Ibans of Kampong Ensika have won a restraining order against this Taib Land Grab
Confidentially, Sarawak Report’s Tatler Correspondent is left wondering why Raziah and Robert have allowed such a long time to pass before encouraging their daughter to cash in on her profits and quickly distance herself?
Certainly, in previous years such a sale would have been conducted in a matter of days or weeks! So has Elia been too diverted by the preparations for her three lavish wedding parties over the past couple of years? Or could the family be encountering deeper problems?
Perhaps they are suddenly finding it rather hard to find a buyer willing to take on their hot potato? Don’t forget these days there could be a very messy and public court case now the angry locals have discovered what has happened.
Things are changing very fast on that front. More and more of these situations are ending up in court, thanks to Land Rights Lawyers such as the new PKR leader Baru Bian. He has 200 such cases going through the courts and has started winning against the Government of Taib Mahmud with frightening regularity!
And, of course there is another problem, which is that all these big oil palm companies want to look ‘sustainable’ these days. It is the new fashion and Tatler says it is hot, hot, hot! Meano Deforestation is out, Greenwash is in!
So, buying dodgy provsional licences off the internationally notorious Mahmud Family doesn’t look at all good on the Annual Report and would involve a lot of explaining to shareholders and NGOs! Best avoided. Look at the example just this week, when Mummy Raziah’s own latest land grab in Simunjan, Sebangan was halted by the courts. This is an expensive blow to Quality Concrete Sdn Bhd, which had taken on the area at enormous cost after a huge payout to Raziah. They had even given her a position on their Board and shares in the company to sweeten the deal!
So, could it be that pretty, clever, go-getting Elia is having a difficult time finding her buyer after all? What was easy a couple of years back may not be so easy now!
Do not criticise the ‘wealth creators’ like Elia!
All this must be causing worrying moments for the the Chief Minister, who has been trying time and again in speech after speech to get it through to us that we must ENCOURAGE the wealth-creating activities of young ladies like Elia for the good of us all.
Where would we be without all her expenditure? What about the jobs serving at her parties and cleaning after her (and writing about her)? We NEED her wealth!
There is also the personal concern of the Chief Minister that his family may not yet be quite rich enough and of course he may have a whole lot more little ones to worry about very soon indeed with his lovely young wife, so many decades his junior.
For these reasons Taib is known to have started threatening the judges who have been finding against him in these cases and seeking to undermine their careers. However, they are answering to the judgements of a higher court and have little option but to carry out the law.
This all may mean that Elia will have to restrict herself to just two husbands. Unlike her mother she may not be able to afford a third!