Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Sarawak ‘Robbing’ Hood must go

Snap has placed Chief Minister Taib Mahmud alongside renowned dictators Saddam Hussein and Ferdinand Marcos.

KUCHING : Chief Minister Taib Mahmud is a “dictator” who needs to be ousted, according to Sarawak National Party (Snap),

“The Chinese call him Pek Mo. He is the modern-day ‘Robin Hood’ who robs the poor of their land to give to the rich…He’s not like the legendary hero who robbed the rich to help the poor,” quipped Snap vice-president Anthony Liom during a recent “Sarawak Must Change” forum organised by the Movement of Change Sarawak (MoCS).

Citing renown “dictators” such as Saddam Hussein and Ferdinand Marcos, who had their trusted aides to prop them up, he said Taib too had his George Chan (Sarawak United Peoples Party president), Alfred Jabu Numpang (Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu deputy president), James Masing (Parti Rakyat Sarawak president) and William Mawan (Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party president).

“The ‘Pek Mo’ (Taib) is no less a dictator because he too has a George Chan, a Jabu, a Masing and a Mawan to share power with.

“He retains the bulk. He gets loyalty by sharing out the crumbs,” Liom said, pointing out that dictators have one feature in common – they ruled for long periods and the clever use of the power they wielded and the wealth they amassed perpetuated their position in power.

Liom, who is also Snap’s director of policy, said not many years ago, logging permits to large tracts of forest land was invariably given away to the children, in-laws, friends, nominees or political affiliates of those in power.

‘Now, large tracts of plantation lands are alienated to the same people.

“It is not so bad if the lands are state land but it would be sinful if the lands are native customary right (NCR) land. The Barisan Nasional government just couldn’t be bothered.

“The government says it would not take away people’s land without adequate compensation. But when a great number of native communities find out that the land they have cultivated for generations with rubber, padi and fruits are alienated to plantation companies, they are baffled.

“To them, the reality is they have been robbed of their land,” Liom said.

The Snap leader is of the view that the BN government has been and is oblivious to the plight of native land owners.

“The government has embarked on a policy to freeze issuance of titles to NCR land.

“It has amended the land code many times thus making it easier to grant provisional leases to companies belonging to BN leaders and their relatives and making it difficult for the NCR landowners to prove their claims to NCR lands,” said Liom, who was a former Session Court judge.

Disturbing the social fabric

He said in strategising to hold onto power at all costs, BN leaders were now preaching to the Tuai Rumah (longhouse headmen) and Ketua Kampungs to keep away opposition campaigners.

He said the selfish call goes against the core culture of hospitality practiced by the Dayak longhouse.

“It is a sure recipe that will destroy the social and cultural fabric of our communities. Again BN leaders couldn’t care less,” he said.

Liom said that as long as Sarawakians practiced the political culture of apathy, they would continue to suffer.

“In Sarawak we are under a dictatorship, but the majority of the people couldn’t careless about where the country and the state are heading to.

“As long as they have their meals and are free to move around unhindered, they don’t care who runs the government.

“Majority of the people don’t care if the political leadership is getting dictatorial and enriching themselves by amassing the shared wealth of the state.

“People don’t care if the leaders through their family and relatives, cronies and nominees monopolise major contracts for government projects, and if the powerful plunder and rob people’s land. They’ll still vote for BN.

“This is what is worrying us… There is a danger in this widespread political apathy because people get the government they deserve and the government can become a really bad government and yet the majority don’t care,” Liom lamented.

Joseph Tawie FMT

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