So, Taib Mahmud has yet another business in Sarawak, despite all his protests to the contrary, and it is even named after him.
Pehin Sri Heritage Sdn Bhd has featured on a list of 49 Malaysian companies identified in court by his former daughter in law Shanaz Taib, who is seeking a financial settlement from his son Abu Bekir.
From the value of these recorded companies alone (leaving aside foreign bank accounts and properties amassed by the Taibs) auditors were able to demonstrate that the CM’s son is worth over a billion ringgit in assets, which earn him more than RM2million income per year.
What’s more, the majority of these companies are based in Sarawak, where they benefit from preferential contracts, land titles and monopolies passed their way by Abu Bekir’s Daddy, the Chief Minister.
It highlights how the Chief Minister was simply lying when he claimed on camera that his family ‘do no business inside of Sarawak!
“my family and I are doing well, it is nothing to do with exploitation, taking anything out of this country… my children are well educated, since early days they have gone .. to participate in business outside, I had to do business outside more than 30 years ago – simple reason is I don’t want conflict of interest to haunt me all the time. If I do business inside the country, people will say I used my influence, so of course we did it outside, but outside the country if you have got talent and some money you can really build good business” [Taib 2011]
Pehin Sri Heritage Sd Bhd
So, what is the significance of this particular Taib family business, which is 55% owned by the Chief Minister himself, since there appears little investment or activity attached to the company so far.?
Is PSHSB envisaged as a vehicle to dispense some of the CM’s legendary wealth, in a way that might make people think of him fondly? If so, nothing yet has been forthcoming.
It is the registered address of this company that is more informative, since it shows how the Chief Minister is personally linked to the top businesses fronted by his various family members in Sarawak.
Pehin Sri Heritage Sdn Bhd shares an address with another family enterprise, which has nabbed a major part of the richest property development project in Sarawak, Premier Cottage Sdn Bhd.
Premier Cottage is the largest shareholder in a so-called Joint Venture to develop 10.5 acres of valuable land on the Kuching Isthmus into a hotel complex. That Joint Venture is named Isthmus Developments Sdn Bhd, and it too is based at the same address.
Pehin Sri Heritage, Premier Cottage and Isthmus Developments Sdn Bhd are all three registered at Lot 201, Jalan Blacksmith, Kuching.
Urban land grab
So, what is the story behind Premier Cottage and Isthmus Developments and how do these link with the Taib Mahmud owned company?
Prime site given to Taib’s family companies
This particular lucrative opportunity for the Taib family was launched when the Sarawak State government under Taib Mahmud forcibly acquired the most valuable single urban land bank in the state, by alienating all the land on the Kuching Isthmus.
This is now is planned to be a major development area, backed by infrastructure investment from the government (ie public money).
Local people have launched legal cases, complaining that they were paid miserable compensation for their valuable land, which then (no surprise) found its way from public ownership into the hands of Taib controlled family company, CMS Berhad.
CMS Property Development Sdn Bhd now owns a controlling 51% of the prime land with the SEDC (Sarawak Economic Development Corporation) holding 49% under an over all joint venture called CMS Land Sdn Bhd.
Whether any money was ever paid to the state for this land acquisition by CMSB has remained unreported, but what is evident is that Taib’s family company, thanks to his obvious influence, now has control of the area and also the financial backing of the SEDC to cover the costs of developing it.
Driving decisions from his position of Chief Minister, Planning Minister and Finance Minister, Taib Mahmud could not have arranged matters more favourably for his own family company (although he will doubtless claim that he walked out of the room when all the key decisions were executed).
Cosier and cosier
But, one glance at the Premier Cottage concession reveals an even more cosy Taib family arrangement over this site.
Premier Cottage is Directed by the CM’s daughter Hanifah Taib; his sister in law Gertie Chong and his son in law Hisham (Sean) Murray.
The shareholder is a mysterious offshore outfit named Pioneer City Enterprises Limited. We are entitled to assume that this secretive company is owned by the same three Directors or otherwise Taib himself.
Announcements show that CMS land Sdn Bhd decided to support a RM380 million hotel project by a joint venture called Isthmus Developments Sdn Bhd (IDSB), in which Premier Cottage holds a 54% share.
The decision involved CMS Land handing IDSB 10.5 acres of prime land in return for a mere 3% shareholding in the project. Surely that makes the hands down winners in this deal the close family members who own Premier Cottage and the losers the wider shareholders of CMS and the SEDC?
It is plainly nonsense when CMS attempts to excuse the favouritism shown in handing these 10.5 acres to Hanifah Taib, who is both a major shareholder and wife of the Group Executive Director, Ahmad Alwee Alsree. But in the formal papers they try, by using the same old excuse of saying that the Board Members with a private interest in the deal walked out of the room when the decision was made!
Forget all the minority shareholders in this public company dominated by the Taib family, because other CMS Board Members, like Chief Executive Richard Curtis know who pays their salaries. Sarawak’s largest company continues to be run as a cash cow for its greediest family.
Protests of innocence
In the light of this blatant profiteering and influence peddling it is worth re-considering Taib Mahmud’s and his son in law Hisham (Sean)Murray’s loud protestations that they have made no money out of Sarawak.
Murray has angrily gone on record denouncing suggestions that he has enriched his family companies through any favoured involvement in Sarawak:
“With regard to your question concerning investmentsin Malaysia, Jamilah Murray has some passive investments on Malaysia, but Sakto and Sakti, and Sean Murray do not.” [legal statement by Sean Murray 2011]
Since the facts speak for themselves the only comment that seems reasonable for such statements is that they are plainly nonsense and lies.
The fact that Taib’s own company Pehin Sri Heritage Sdn Bhd is sitting in the same office as Premier Cottage and Isthmus Developments Sdn Bhd, merely gives a physical confirmation to the corrupt ties of interest between Sarawak’s Chief Minister and his family, who have benefitted from every possible handout from the estate at the bitter expense of many people in Sarawak. Those victims include the original landowners of the Isthmus, who were forced to surrender their properties at fixed prices so that the Taibs could set about making hundreds of millions from state supported development projects.
Readers of this item may also find relevant our previous article, ‘Sean Murray’s Kuching Construction Connection’