Abdul Taib Mahmud may be merely the Chief Minister of a single state of Malaysia on a modest official income, however he and his family boast a treasure trove of jewelry that even the wealthiest monarchs and sultans of the world would be proud to own. The many women of his family are always happy to flaunt this wealth, usually around their bare necks and bosoms, despite their pretence of strict Muslim customs.
Sarawak Report has gathered some of the many pictures of this display to give Sarawakians a view of where so much of the money that was promised to the people for development and progress actually went.
Spoils of the Jungle
Sarawaks forests were cut down and in return the people who owned the lands were promised that they would be helped and given modern living standards. But instead they have been left even poorer and without their forests to provide food. Many are starving with their fish, animals and fruit all gone and rice fields turned into oil palm plantations, which hire immigrant workers.
These picturesshow where the profits actually ended up, much of it spent on baubles which can be seen hanging around the necks and stuck on the fingers of the Taibs and their business cronies. We have published these photographs because pictures like these are rarely shown to the ordinary people and we believe they have a right to understand the level of wealth acquired by the governing family in whom they have placed their trust for the last 30 years.
Of course it is not just what these people wear that tell the story of where Sarawaks vast natural wealth has disappeared to, but it is their houses too. We believe it is only fair that the people of Sarawak, many of whom live in some of the poorest conditions in the world, should know just how grand the lifestyles are of those rulers who promised to make their lives better.
Taib is no sultan
Given the wealth and display shown by the Taibs it is sometimes necessary to remind the people that these are not sultans or princes, they are mere politicians who are elected to serve their people and not to rule over them or take their wealth. The wealth of Taib Mahmud is proof of his dishonesty. This is why he attempts to hide it from the people and why we have decided to publish these pictures.