A tale of two states (and two men)


Of the two poorest states in Malaysia, one receives oil royalties, the other does not. But whilst the Chief Minister of Sarawak manages to lead a life that is way beyond his official ***RM13,000 salary and is alleged to have built a multi-million fortune and stashed it abroad, the Menteri Besar of Kelantan lives a modest life, one that speaks volumes of the man.

By Mariam Mokhtar 

COMMENT  On 30 August, the state of Kelantan sued the national oil corporation Petronas, for alleged breach of a contract that had been signed between Kelantan and Petronas, in 1975. With Kelantan deprived of oil royalties, its people were robbed of the benefits that could have improved their lives.

If this is the federal government’s way of punishing the Kelantan people for voting PAS at the state level, then BN is defeated even before it has begun. Isn’t BN bothered that it is also punishing its own supporters in Kelantan?

The federal government treats Petronas like its personal kitty – a cash cow with which it can dip its grubby paws into, to reward those states which are compliant. The federal government is acting irresponsibly, by being spiteful and therefore, is unfit to govern.

Kelantan (population 2,100,000) is the poorest state; Sarawak (2,500,000) is the next poorest. Both Sarawak and Kelantan are blessed with oil reserves and timber, but they remain poor. Their poverty is because of different reasons.

Sarawak’s abundance of liquefied petroleum gas and petroleum is the mainstay of the Federal government’s economy and yet it receives only 5% royalty. Its state sanctioned logging and oil-palm industries, has resulted in massive deforestation. Only 5% of virgin jungle remains.

Despite the relative economic growth from timber, oil palm and oil, Sarawak still lags markedly behind the rest of the other states, bar Kelantan.

These two states have in common, elderly leaders who have been at the helm for decades: Taib Mahmud led Sarawak for 30 years whilst Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat served Kelantan since 1990.

But the two men, who are in their seventies, are like chalk and cheese. Taib belongs to BN whereas Nik Aziz is with PAS.

Apparently, after filing the suit against Petronas, Kelantan menteri besar Nik Aziz led 200 supporters in a solat hajat (prayer of need) at the nearby Federal Territory Mosque. Nik Aziz is famed for commanding support from non-Muslims in Malaysia and is instrumental in playing a leading role for the increase in popularity of PAS among non-Muslims.

However, the only recent suit we remember involving Taib Mahmud was the white one he wore (complete with red bow tie) on the night of the glittering high society banquet of the Islamic Fashion Festival (IFF) Charity Gala Dinner in Monaco-Monte Carlo.

Together with various members of Malaysian royalty and 600 guests from Monaco’s high society, Taib watched as Malaysia’s “First Lady” Rosmah Mansor, the IFF patron, donated 270,000 euros (RM1,120,961) to the Prince Albert II Foundation of Monaco. The money had been raised from the promotion of Sarawak tourism, and an auction of items including a framed signed photo of Prince Albert

Tok Guru, as Nik Aziz, is affectionately called, commands huge respect from several people. He interacts well with non-Muslims, because they admire him for his honesty, views on moral issues and his candour.

They may not agree with all of his policies, but he is valued for his wisdom and his courage.  How many in the Umno camp can match up to Tok Guru?

Taib Mahmud on the other hand, raised the ire of many, including a group of foreigners who joined a protest in Oxford when he went to the United Kingdom to woo investors with the ‘Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy’ (SCORE).

They were protesting at the destruction of the rainforests of Sarawak, the denial of justice for the Penan and also the construction of the 12 mega-dams project which will displace the indigenous people living in the affected areas.

The contrast between the two men continues on a personal level.

Read more at: http://www.malaysianmirror.com/media-buzz-detail/41-opinion/49102-a-tale-of-two-states-and-two-men