This little town has produced more millionaires per square mile than any other town in Malaysia.It has also made a few silent billionaires.Much of the wealth are in private holdings nicely tucked away from the proving public eyes.
Three most prominent families that have made their fortunes here, mainly through timber, courtesy of the BN government of Taib Mahmud, are the KTS group of companies led by its Chairman Lau Swee Nguong related to the current BN candidate Robert Lau Hiew Yau, the WTK group of companies led by TK Wong and Rimbunan Hijau group of companies led by Tiong Hiew King, nicknamed the 'Timber King' with logging interests all over the globe through his company Rimbunan Hijau. All three companies have logging interests that spun the globe, from tiny Solomon Islands to Papua New Guinea, Africa,Latin America and Siberia in Russia.
Rimbunan Hijau is also at the center of several controversies with Greenpeace on abuses in logging operations in Papua.
The Foochows are the most powerful and influential Chinese clan in Sarawak and the three families ranked highest in term of wealth and influence.
The KTS group also control two major newspapers....The Oriental Daily and Borneo Post while Tiong and Wong control Chinese national daily Sin Chew Jit Poh and Guang Ming Daily.
Where ever they go they to met the ire of the natives for destruction of the forest abodes of the indigenous people.Backed by powerful politicians and lots of money kept the lids on the simmering pots.Most complains against the logging companies, where ever they are, fell on deaf ears.
Will the power of money and his rich family connection give BN candidate Robert Lau the edge over DAP's Richard Wong? Much depend on the Chinese voters.Much also depend on the female factor.There are over 29,000 female voters in Sibu, mostly Chinese.Would they vote the handsomer of the two? Although, this is not a beauty pageant, looks, if not everything, does help to go the extra mile.Sarah Palin may not agree to this but in her case it wasn't her it was John McCain.
Money is very important commodity to the Chinese and they work hard for it.That's why they control the economy of most South East Asian countries and Malaysia is no exception.
Although, money is important to the Chinese, you can't pay a Chinese person to buy his vote.It's akin to try selling ice to the Eskimos.
Obviously, Prime Minister Najib does not understand the Chinese psyche.Chinese do not accept handouts unless they are really very poor.This buy-election may not work here.BN may still win but it is not for the lure of money or projects.
Each constituency has its peculiarities.In rural and non-Chinese areas cash can be king.Cash can translates into votes but in urban and semi-urban areas where Chinese formed the majority it is the long term socio-economic development of the community that they are interested in and high on the agenda and one that eventually decides who gets the votes.
Being in the opposition voting DAP's Richard Wong into parliament may no help bring development to the place at this juncture.If he does win it would merely be protest vote against the BN. The real stealer would be the forthcoming state elections
Najib has promised hundreds of million in donations and projects to appease the Chinese of Sibu.Would they be grateful and vote for the BN candidate? Some are likely to vote for the BN candidate but not because Najib has drenched Sibu with money but more due to Lau's family clan connections and whatever good stead the family has with the local population.
In my previous post I predicted BN majority of between 2000 to 3,000.I believe they still can achieve that if they employ the right strategy.First, they must go all out to get majority of the non-Chinese votes, the Ibans,Dayaks,Melanau and Malays and must get at least 50 percent of the Chinese votes.Anything less is precarious to the BN.
Money is power.Money can buy almost anything, including integrity of the human souls.Without money life can be very miserable.There is plenty of money in Sibu.
Can money buy the Foochows?
Is Najib paying good money to chase bad money?
The result may differ from my earlier forecast due to changing circumstances the past few days.It is likely to be a close contest with BN having the upper hand.
Najib is working hard to win the seat.He is back in Sibu again today.He deserves a win.
Related article:Malaysian Swan Song in Sarawak By-Election