Power and wealth – all in the family

By Mariam Mokhtar

All politicians try to keep secrets from the electorate as they attempt to achieve public office. Generous gifts, vote-rigging, intimidation, free food and beer, or the company of girls have been successfully kept away from the public eye, by more than one politician.

Keeping your relatives’ secrets locked away is a much harder exercise. Nevertheless, Sarawak Report has unearthed many of Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud’s dodgy deals and property concerns overseas.

Taib probably believed that his minions would have covered his tracks better and that little information was available, to further embarrass him.

He was wrong.

Either his stooges are bad at keeping people in the dark or else the sleuths are getting better.

Sarawak Report has uncovered a RM530 million contract for Kuching’s new sewerage system. It was awarded in 2008 to a consortium of three companies which included Kumpulan Construction, headed by Taib’s sister, Raziah Mahmud.

Sarawak Report claims that both Raziah and Taib’s brother, Onn, own 87.5 percent of the shares in the company.

Within a month of the government contract being awarded to the consortium of Kumpulan Construction, Nishimatsu Construction and Hock Seng Lee Bhd (HSL), it was declared that the project had been sub-contracted to HSL alone for RM452 million.

Simple arithmetic and reasoning would show that the unaccounted RM78 million would have been left to the two companies, Kumpulan and Nishimatsu.

Last year, Nishimatsu Construction made headlines news when the Japanese authorities arrested its chairman for operating a one billion Yen slush fund. He admitted that this money was for bribes to gain foreign contracts and to make illegal political donations. This information led to the resignation of the Japanese opposition leader Ichiro Ozawa.

So what deal was struck in Sarawak between this scandal-ridden company and Taib and Raziah?

The Kuching Sewerage project was one of several large-scale public construction projects that benefitted Taib’s family. The others include the 40,000 seat outdoor stadium at Petra Jaya worth RM105 million and The Senari Deepsea Port for RM160 million.

Prior to Raziah’s takeover of Kumpulan in June 1986, the company was dormant. The scandalous awarding of contracts is shocking but not as devastating to know that these major ventures only record minimal profits. Does Raziah’s expertise extend to ‘sewerage’ matters? Is the money being siphoned away elsewhere?

Read more at: http://www.malaysianmirror.com/media-buzz-detail/41-opinion/49306-power-and-wealth-all-in-the-family