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Friday, April 26, 2013

Taib Adalah Raja Berambut Putih Terakhir Sarawak

The last white-haired Rajah of Sarawak
Mariam Mokhtar April 26, 2013
Today, Taib is a huge millstone around caretaker Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s neck. He would like to ditch Taib, but he can’t

Before an earthquake, it is said that animals exhibit peculiar characteristics. Perhaps, the earthquake to be set-off by GE13 has made Barisan Nasional politicians behave oddly because Mr Hyde has been seen to revert to his alter ego, Dr Jekyll, and Zulkifli Noordin, the Hindu basher of Perkasa, has become a champion of Indian issues.
The Gandhi-wannabe P Waythamoorthy, who called Umno-Baru an enemy of the Indians two years ago, has made Umno-Baru its new bedfellow.
The president of MCA, Dr Chua Soi Lek who was silent when politicians, aligned to BN, hurled insults at non-Malays, now embraces Zulkifli.
Taib Mahmud, Malaysia’s longest serving Chief Minister, who ruled Sarawak with an iron-fist for 32 years was at a function in Sibu on Wednesday, and was in a defiant mood.
He barked at the person who asked about his retirement, “You want me to retire? When are you going to retire? You tell me………..I decide when is the best time to leave.”
Taib shares a trait with an ageing former prime-minister – both men are unaware that they have overstayed their welcome and they are well past their best.
After years of enjoying the trappings of power and wealth, they are unwilling to face life as ordinary citizens and let others make the running.
Most of all, they fear losing their legacy and the threat of exposure. Who, of influence in politics, will be the first to denounce them as plunderers of the state, and abusers of the rakyat rather than servants of the rakyat? Anwar Ibrahim did with Dr Mahathir Mohamad, and is continually hounded.
The young Taib was born into poverty but was raised and supported by his uncle. After reading law at the University of Adelaide, Taib returned to work in the Crown Council before becoming a minister in various ministries, at both state and federal level.
The public face of Taib in the early years, as revealed by the media archives, show a family man, with a wife and four children, a respected head of state, a wealthy person, a ruler who wields absolute power in Sarawak and whose political reach extends to Putrajaya.
Away from the public gaze, does the image of respect and decency still hold true for Taib?
Good side, bad side
The indigenous people of Sarawak have suffered at the brutal hands of logging companies, which were awarded concessions after judicious scrutiny by Taib.
Can Taib claim to be innocent of the wrong-doings of the timber merchants, who are linked to him either by political patronage or business?
In the novel by Robert Louis Stevenson, ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde’, the protagonist is Dr Jekyll, the well liked doctor who is the complete opposite of the ugly and cruel Mr Hyde.
Just like Jekyll, Taib appears to be the epitome of respect and decency. Taib is welcomed by foreign heads of state and media. He has attracted charitable concerns, like the Prince Albert Foundation of Monaco and the BBC’s Ben Fogle. To them, Taib is the genial, courteous host and the accommodating, generous head of state.
In the novel, Dr Jekyll indulges in experiments to try and separate his good side from his bad side. He takes various drugs to isolate his good side, but in the end, he only liberates his evil inner-self.
At first, the change is gradual but in the end, the effect is dramatic and the horrible trait consumes Jekyll completely.
What potion has Taib taken? Are money, land and material goods Taib’s metaphorical drugs? Did the addiction to these ‘drugs’, over the decades, release the evil creature in him?
When his father died, the young Taib showed responsibility and compassion by caring for and educating his siblings but later, all of them, including his uncle, were consumed by their evil inner selves, and ended up helping themselves instead of helping others.
Instead of empowering the people with the benefits that the natural wealth of Sarawak could have provided, Taib reduced the Ibans to pitiful caricatures of their former warrior selves, and made them dependent on him.
In an interview, Taib claimed that his daughter Jamilah’s wealth was due to her intelligence and business acumen, as if to imply that the Sarawak natives were stupid.
In the Global Witness video exposé, his nieces and their lawyer alluded to the Sarawak people’s simple mindedness.
The cessation of Sarawak?
Today, Taib is a huge millstone around caretaker Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s neck. He would like to ditch Taib, but he can’t.
Taib’s corruption, the rape of the Penan women and the displacement of the indigenous people have caused major setbacks for BN, but Najib and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) are scared of him and no investigation into corruption can be conducted.
Two years ago, Najib and Taib came to a compromise and Taib initially agreed to relinquish power after two years.
After the state elections, Taib changed his mind and announced that he would only retire “mid-term”.
The hapless Najib is torn between the shadow of Mahathir which looms over him in peninsular Malaysia, and the stifling Taib, in East Malaysia.
If Najib believed that he would get some respite at home, his spouse, the ambitious and self-styled “First Lady” Rosmah Mansor has denied him that; not when the instruments of the state are at her husband’s disposal and she can weave her own grand designs via him.
Najib might have to reconsider his soft approach with Taib. If he does not get rid of Taib, the calls for the cessation of Sarawak from Malaysia will grow louder, and this will imperil BN and place the finances of Malaysia in a precarious state.
For many years, Mr Hyde’s evil may have been suppressed in Dr Jekyll’s psyche. Likewise, in Sarawak, the anger of the Sarawakians has been held in check.
When the Sarawakians vent their anger on Taib, he will be deposed from his rein as the white-haired rajah of Sarawak.
Taib is desperate and is calling-in favours from all quarters. Sarawakians must be strong and ignore the bribes and threats that Taib is using to try and trick them into voting for Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) and BN.
Mariam Mokhtar is a FMT columnist.

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