Thursday, September 8, 2011

‘Billionaire’ son steps in to save Taib

Corrupt Barisan Nasional l KUCHING: Alleged billionaire Mahmud Abu Bekir, who has decided to step into the political fray to safeguard his father Chief Minister Taib Mahmud’s political and financial dynasty, must be prepared to fend off attacks by an opposition which is raring to have a go at him.
Abu Bekir, like his father, carries excessive baggage which is good fodder for the opposition.
Already Sarawak DAP is demanding that Abu Bekir make a full disclosure of his earnings from government contracts and land alienation before contesting in the coming general election.
“How much has he gained from government contracts awarded to his companies where he is the major shareholder?” asked state DAP secretary Chong Chieng Jen.

Chong was commenting on reports that Taib has given his blessing for son Abu Bekir to go into politics.
Abu Bekir is likely to contest in the Kota Samarahan parliamentary constituency which is currently held by his younger brother Sulaiman, who won the seat in the 2008 general election. In late 2009, Sulaiman slowly began fading off the political radar screen and has not been heard of since.
Chong, who is Kota Sentosa assemblyman and Bandar Kuching MP, said: “Before he can contest, he must declare his assets and earnings.”
“He must reveal how much he benefited from the construction of 336 bridges contracted to Titanium where he is the major shareholder.
“He must also reveal details of the 110,000 acres of land alienated to Titanium management company and 269 acres of prime state land near BBC in Kuching alienated to Monarda company, which is worth at least RM400 million.
“All these are only tips of the iceberg.”
Important for public to know
Chong said the Abu Bekir’s disclosure was important to the public, especially since “we have been talking about clean and transparent administration”.
“Abu Bekir owes a duty to the people of Sarawak, and as such he must declare and make full disclosure of all his earnings he has obtained from the contracts awarded by the government as well as from the alienation of land to his companies,” he said.
Taib had reportedly told his son that he should shoulder his responsibilities and obligations well when serving the people just like other prominent leaders.
He also told Abu Bekir to be sincere, patient and hardworking in order to become a successful leader, pointing out that it was imperative for Bekir to be proactive in bringing greater development to his ancestral hometown of Mukah.
Many observers see Taib’s advice to his son as an attempt not only to allow him to take over the Kota Samarahan constituency but also to prepare him to take over the leadership of the party, and eventually as chief minister.

Rightful successor
For the past two decades, Taib has been talking about stepping down as chief minister, but he cannot relinquish his seat yet as he has not found a trustworthy successor.
A number of PBB leaders whom Taib had named and groomed as possible successors have now disappeared into political oblivion.
Many believe that Taib has now found a “trustworthy” leader in Abu Bekir to be his successor.
When Abu Bekir’s name was mentioned as the possible candidate for Kota Samarahan, several PBB leaders came out expressing full support for Abu Bekir.
“This really makes Taib happy,” said an observer.
Apart from being very rich as a result of government contracts, Abu Bekir has a baggage attached to his name which the opposition will exploit to the fullest.

Poor timing for Abu Bekir
The baggage concerns his divorce case with Shahnaz A Majid, his wife of 19 years. She is seeking RM300 million of assets which the couple had amassed during their marriage as well as RM100 million in compensation.
Already a number of people including Baru Bian, Sarawak PKR chief, and Dr Jeniri Amir, a political scientist, have commented on Abu Bekir’s divorce case.
Bian said that Taib might not want his son to contest as the divorce case came at a wrong time for the BN, and the right time for the opposition.
Jeniri said that Abu Bekir was not a suitable candidate as his divorce case might tarnish the image and reputation of BN.
“The Opposition will exploit his divorce case to the fullest, and this will not be good for the BN and Taib,” said the senior lecturer with Unimas.
“Secondly, if Taib agrees to pick him as the candidate, then people will see it as a case of nepotism,” he reportedly said.

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