Abdul Taib Mahmoud was appointed in 2014 as governor of Sarawak state until 2024 (Associated Press)

Kuala Lumpur -

The Malaysian government and the local government in the state of Sarawak mourned the veteran politician Abdul Taib Mahmud, who passed away at the age of 87. He was considered one of Malaysia’s most prominent political leaders since its independence in 1957 and the unification of its eastern and western parts in 1963.

Abdul Tayeb served as head of the Sarawak state government for 33 years, before assuming the position of governor of the state. He was born in the city of Miri, where oil was discovered at the beginning of the last century. He contributed to its enrichment along with other natural resources, especially tropical forest wood.

Malaysian officials praised his role in promoting political stability and coexistence between different races and religions in the most ethnically and religiously diverse state in the country.

State Governor Abang Johari said that Abdul Taib laid the foundation for the development and growth witnessed by the state, while Malaysian Transport Minister Lee Kim Shin described him as the architect of modern Sarawak.

Abdul Taib (right) Prime Minister of Sarawak State for 33 years (French)

White-haired uncle

Journalist Yeoh Guan Jin believes that Abdul Taib left a great legacy in Sarawak that outweighs his nickname “Uncle White-Haired.” In an article in the Free Malaysia Today newspaper, Yeoh added, "You do not expect a person to rule for 33 years as head of an executive authority, and then occupy the position of governor of the state without great political cunning and savvy."

He continues, "He assumed the presidency of the local government in 1981, the same year in which Mahathir Mohamad assumed the prime ministership in the central government. He formed a government of members who gave him complete loyalty, and eliminated violators and opponents within the ruling (Sons of the Earth) party in the state."

The writer gave an example of this by eliminating his rivals, such as Abdul Rahman Yaqoub, in 1983, and maintaining this policy until he assumed the position of governor of the state.

Abdul Taib took advantage of the vast area and huge natural resources that Sarawak had to bargain with successive central governments, including the government of Mahathir Mohamad, the man known for overthrowing any politicians and officials who doubted his loyalty, and after him Najib Abdul Razak, who tried hard to replace Abdul Taib, but to no avail. .

Suspicions of corruption

Mystery surrounds the wealth of the most ruling politician in Malaysia, and there are those who estimate it at tens of billions of dollars, but the corruption investigations did not include the veteran politician or any of his relatives, and as soon as death befell him, rumors began to circulate about a family conflict over the inheritance, especially with his wife of Syrian origin. Ghada Al-Kurd, who is about 3 and a half decades younger than him.

Abdul Tayeb's children, from his Polish wife Lipka Talar, who died in 2009, accused their stepmother, Ghada Al-Kurd, of transferring much of his property to her name, while she in turn filed a lawsuit against her accusation of kidnapping her husband from the hospital against the approval of the doctors. The police intervened, at the request of his sons, to investigate the circumstances of concealing information or seizing the person of Abdel Tayeb in his last days.

In 2012, the Swiss Bruno Manser Fund estimated Abdul Taib’s wealth at more than $15 billion. It is an environmental conservation fund named after a Swiss activist who is believed to have been forcibly disappeared in Sarawak because of his activity to preserve tropical forests.

Abdul Tayeb laid the foundation stone for the development and growth witnessed by the state of Sarawak (social networking sites)

The Malaysian newspaper "Business Times" pointed out that members of Abdul Taib's family were busy with trade and business during his rule, and revealed that the value of 9 companies registered in the name of his family members on the Malaysian Stock Exchange is estimated at about two billion dollars, and they are as follows:

  • Chaya Mata Sarawak Company, which was established in 1974 to manufacture cement and has expanded to include 35 companies under its umbrella, members of the Abdul Tayeb family own 22% of its shares, and it is headed by Abdul Rahman and Abu Bakar, Abdul Tayeb’s sons.

  • Naeem Holding, which operates in the field of real estate, oil and gas and is valued at approximately $100 million, is headed by his cousin Abdul Hamid Sibawi.

  • Ta An Holding, a timber trading company valued at approximately $200 million, is owned by the Tayyab family, 28% of its shares.

  • Sarawak Plantation, which works in the field of oil palm cultivation and is valued at approximately $130 million, and Abdul Hamid owns about 30% of its shares.

  • Dayan Enterprise, a services company valued at half a billion dollars, in which Naeem's former company owns more than 24% of the shares.

  • Sarawak Cable, valued at $20 million, works in the field of manufacturing electrical wires (cables), and is headed by Mahmoud Abu Bakr, who is the son of Abdul Tayeb.

  • Kenanga Investment Bank, the bank's value is estimated at about $200 million, and Ahmed Alawi Al-Sirri works as a director in the bank.

  • Sarawak Plantation, which operates in the palm oil industry, is valued at about $130 million, and Abdul Hamid, Abdul Taib’s son, owns about 30% of its shares.

From a remote village to a palace

Abdul Taib was born on May 21, 1936 in the village of Sugi Merbau near the city of Miri in Sarawak state.

He joined the University of Adelaide in Australia in 1958, graduated with a Bachelor of Laws degree in 1962, and was appointed to the Public Prosecution Office in Sarawak.

  • In 1963, he was appointed Minister of Communications and Labor in the state government when he was 27 years old.

  • In 1970, he was elected as a member of Parliament for the Kota Samarahan constituency and remained its representative for 38 years.

  • In 1981, he was elected Prime Minister of Sarawak State, making him the fourth Prime Minister.

  • In 2014, he was appointed governor of Sarawak state until 2024.

Source: Al Jazeera