Freedom To Ask Questions Is Key To Democracy

Astana files police report over comments against Raghad
A spokesman said the report was lodged by several Astana officers at Gita police station last Saturday. — Photo via the Official Website of the TYT Yang di-Pertua Negeri Sarawak
KUCHING (July 10): The Astana Negeri Sarawak has lodged a police report against individuals, who had allegedly made scathing comments against the wife of the Yang Di-Pertua Negeri, Toh Puan Datuk Patinggi Raghad Kurdi Taib.

A spokesman said the report was lodged by several Astana officers at Gita police station last Saturday.

Asked whom the Astana Negeri had complained about, the spokesman said it was against certain individuals cited in an online news portal’s report but he did not name them.

It is believed, however, that the complaints were in connection with comments made by
Global Human Rights Federation vice president Peter John Jaban and his associate, Robert Saweng recently.

They had questioned Raghad’s status as a Sarawakian and the privileges she, as well as her son from her earlier marriage, Nizar Mahmoud Madi, enjoy.

Peter and Robert had lodged police reports on the matter at Sungai Maong police station here on June 28, 2023.

In a press statement today, Peter said he viewed the police report against him and his associates as an attempt to stifle debate on the status and position of a public figure, although that information was already in the public domain and subject of several news reports.

Our comment

Why do the staff of the Astana insist on making this sort of undignified spectacle of themselves, trooping down to the police station because people have asked questions about the status of a public figure?

If the public figure’s status is legitimate under the law, which in this case it probably is, then simply issue a statement with evidence to make that point. If it is not, don’t seek to intimidate.

Certainly, by responding in this manner the Astana are giving the impression they are rattled by the questions being asked, which is likely to produce the exact opposite of what they seem to hope to achieve in terms of public opinion.

There is frustration in a state where so many indigenous folk have been denied their rights of citizenship, meaning the poorest are deprived schooling and charged a fortune if they need to go to hospital.

This is why there is so much anger when a naive and pampered foreign born son of a foreign born mother flashes his Blue IC card on Instagram between wiping his ketchup stained mouth with bank notes.

He got his IC card because his elderly stepfather is the Governor of the state. If the process was legitimate then simply make that clear and shut up the critics. Why threaten police harassment as if to stop others from raising the same questions?

Meanwhile, the case brought by the Governor’s actual children against the mother in this case (Taib’s second wife Ragad who seems to be behind much of the present decision-making at the Astana) is rather more relevant and yet barely covered by the likes of the Borneo Post.

Taib’s children are suing over how she has procured family assets during an evident period of decline in their father’s health. Most Sarawakians would agree with their stance, but would also demand for a thorough examination as to how the family acquired such unexplained wealth in the first place.

Likewise, the lucrative large plots of former native lands suddenly transferred from the Governor’s possession to his wife.

All this points to the yawning absence of any public appearances by the said elderly Governor. This has now stretched to some weeks, despite yet more trips to the police station by the staff of the Astana to claim their boss is hale and hearty and threaten those who would like to be shown more proof.

Why has Madame Ragad’s Instagram page, which was in the past prolific in posting loving poses of her and her grandpop husband, gone silent? Why, given the rumours, has there been no attempt to stage a public appearance or even a holiday snap?

A picture of Taib holding the Borneo Post with today’s date on it would do the job. No need to keep tripping off to the police station. Failing that Sarawakians are much looking forward the Governor’s traditional appearance at the Independence Day celebrations later this month.

That would certainly end the sense felt by so many in Sarawak right now that decisions are being made not by the Governor but by a second wife who is in conflict with his own family.

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