Three reasons Taib is making the news – having his tenure as Sarawak Governor extended another four years, Swiss NGO’s bid to access bank records of his daughter’s Canadian company, and his wife’s Melanau status.
Sarawak Yang Dipertua Negeri Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud received his instrument of appointment to continue his service for four years from Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V at Istana Negara in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
This is the second term for Taib being appointed as Sarawak Yang Dipertua Negeri.
On March 1, 2014, Taib was sworn in as the seventh Sarawak Yang Dipertua Negeri after stepping down as Sarawak Chief Minister on February 28, 2014.
Taib was the fourth chief minister of Sarawak and held the post for 33 years since March 26, 1981, after he succeeded his uncle Tun Abdul Rahman Ya’kub.
On Monday, the Ontario Superior Court dismissed an application by Swiss NGO Bruno Manser Fund (BMF) for access to the bank’s records on Taib-linked Sakto Corporation.
The court ruled that the NGO was “asking for greater power than the police have” and that the case was “taking us into uncharted territory”.
For the past 10 years, BMF has been accusing Taib’s family of stashing ill-gotten gains abroad, among others, through a complex web of property deals involving Sakto, a company founded by Taib’s eldest child, Jamilah.
Eventually, BMF sued the Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto-Dominion Bank, Manulife Financial Corporation and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu to compel them to disclose beneficial ownership information and records of the allegedly suspicious flows of funds from Malaysia into Sakto.
“We regret this decision and will have to look for new ways to complement our evidence on the Taib family’s business activities,” BMF director Lukas Straumann said.
Recently, a picture of a copy of the Sarawak Government Gazette has gone viral on social media in Sarawak showing that Taib’s Syrian-born wife, Ragad Waleed Alkurdi, along with her two children from a previous relationship, has been accorded native bumiputera status.
Their race is now ‘Melanau’, as stated in their new Malaysian identity cards, which were issued last November.
This entitles them to hold native title land in Sarawak and to all the other special considerations afforded the bumiputera in Malaysia despite the fact that none of the three was born in the state or have a Malaysian parent, let alone one with bumiputera status.
This announcement has caused uproar amongst Sarawakians who are questioning the double standard that sees genuine natives remain stateless throughout their lives and long-term spouses of ordinary Sarawakians waiting decades for their approval for even Permanent Residency.
The lightning approval of citizenship to the Governor’s wife, and thereafter to native status, have been called into question by the state opposition and Movement for Change, Sarawak (MoCS) leader Francis Paul Siah, yet no clarification has been forthcoming from the state government.
Related report: Feb 5, Seeking Financial Records in Taib-Linked Case in Rare Court Proceeding in Toronto