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Apco is the new age ‘bomoh’

Apco is the new age ‘bomoh’
Mohd Ariff Sabri Aziz

We shall see election soon in Sarawak. Nomination day has been set for April 6.

Friends in Sarawak tell me Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud rarely decides without consulting bomohs, so maybe this date has been chosen and approved by a bomoh.

I too had a call from a bomoh of sorts. When PKR was engulfed in squabbles over the issue of internal elections, this man was called in as a mediator.

He is a state PKR leader and a former deputy minister in the Barisan Nasional government.

He says Taib will still be in power after the election. But he is confident that opposition coalition, Pakatan Rakyat, will deny Taib his two thirds margin.

That will mean that Taib and his team will retain some 50 seats with the PR at least securing 21 seats.

The opposition can even secure as many as 29 seats. The first batch of seats to go will be the urban seats where Chinese voters dominate and where disenchantment with ‘Pek Moh’ is greatest.

Taib Mahmud is also facing open revolt from the Dayaks in particular over the many dubious land deals, people closest to him have entered into.

I was watching the interview with Awang Tengah, the man many speak of as Taib’s anointed successor.

He was dismissing the talks on land grab – questioning in the way haughty politicians do. His comment was simply ‘show us the land grab.’

He said the government does indeed take customary land back. But the land taken is for the construction of roads, irrigation channels etc.

If Awang Tengah was speaking to schoolchildren, then what he said may sound credible and believable.

Patronage pledges

But being a former state legislator, I have never heard government taking back land in the thousands of hectares for the purposes he spoke about.

Unless of course, Sarawak wants to build the biggest jalan kampungs, or the biggest irrigation channels.

What can hamper the dreams of the opposition?

Mainly logistics as more than 70 per cent of seats in Sarawak are in the interior areas.

These are more susceptible to a complex matrix of patronage and development promises that has allowed the BN to maintain support in the state’s hinterlands.

But though physically not easily accessible, people’s opinions can be shaped by cyberspace.

Maybe not through the medium of blogs, tweeters and Facebook but through the more conventional medium of the radio.

Taib faces an unseen enemy in Clare R Brown of Sarawak Report and Peter John Jaban of Radio Free Sarawak.

The combined effort of Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian, Clare and Peter has finally made Taib enlist outside help.

The bomohs Taib must turn to are of the modern type – those who dabble in the invisible art of propaganda and internet information.

Who are the bomohs then?

Apco’s hand

Taib has neither time nor the inclination to use the Umno cyber troopers.

I mean can you sell peninsula curry when the curry consumed in Sarawak is locally flavored?

The fiery type pedalled by rotund sellers is not in big demand there.

So, in comes Apco to do the dirty for Taib.

The Najib administration is reported to be Apco’s single largest client. Najib has told Parliament that Apco’s fees amounted to RM77 million.

Apco’s contract has been renewed and its new fee runs into hundreds of millions.

What happened to this Apco issue? We didn’t see the PM’s press secretary being called in for questioning for it was him who signed the service agreement.

Usually the KSU of the MOF (Ministry of Finance) or some other high ranking officer does this on behalf of the government.

I suppose since this was a contract with a private firm, better for a contract employee to sign on behalf of the government.

Taib is however astute enough to recognize his war can be won or lost by cyberspace tools.

He saw what happened in Tunisia and Egypt and is also sensitive to what’s engulfing the Middle East at the moment.

US website

It is reported that Taib has also enlisted the help of an American radio podcasting website to discredit Clare and her brother in-law the former British premier, Gordon Brown.

Where did Taib get this idea of using cyberspace tools? He is new to cyber-warfare and would not have a clue where to start.

It is a safe bet to assume that it must have been Apco that arranged for the American based news site, with its following on twitter, to tell the world how marvelous Taib is and how he has done much good for Sarawak.

No wonder we have seen glorified tales of Taib’s handiwork reproduced in several websites that made little mention of the destruction of the rainforest, the endemic poverty, the polluted waterways and the systematic abuse of the indigenous people of Sarawak.

There is also no mention of Taib’s corruption, his billion dollar empire and his land grabbing.

The writer is a former Umno state rep and a columnist with FMT

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/2011/04/04/apco-is-the-new-age-bomoh/

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