KUCHING: Newly wed Taib Mahmud may be feeling the springtide – which probably explains his brave declarationt that there “are equal opportunities for everybody” in Sarawak when it is common knowledge that his family members and cronies have amassed their wealth on “lopsided opportunities”.Stumped by the Chief Minister’s latest “blatant lie”, Sarawak DAP secretary-general Chong Chieng Jen said: “Coming from the chief minister it is most shocking… to say that there are equal opportunities for everybody to be rich is unbelievable…”

Chong, who is also Bandar Kuching MP, said that all this while the Taib administration did not practise transparency such as open tenders.
He added that projects were arbitrarily alienated and awarded to Taib’s family and friends.“So what is he saying that there are equal opportunities? It should be lopsided opportunities. We have land alienated to the chief minister’s family and cronies at a cheap premium.“We have lucrative government projects given to companies owned by his family members with no open tender.“For example, more than 100 bridges were awarded without open tenders to his family’s company, Titanium (Management Sdn Bhd) which did not complete the job but was paid,” he said.

Chong said that even “small” jobs like road maintenance were not open to tender but were given to Taib’s family to carry out for the next 15 years.
“Then there is the land at Batu Lintang which was given to Naim (Holdings Bhd) and also the 269 acres of land given to Monarda (Sdn Bhd), which is owned by his children and George Chan’s (Deputy Chief Minister) daughter,” Chong said.
Despite numerous reports detailing the Taib family’s colossal wealth locally and abroad, allegedly derived by corrupt means and “exploiting” the state, the man himself has never come forward to clarify or deny these allegations.
Meanwhile, the gushing groom proudly declared to community leaders in Sarikei that Sarawak was now seven times richer than when he first took over the helm of the state government 30 years ago.

Taib said that opportunities were equally open to everybody and that those who failed to make good on these opportunities had only themselves to blame.
“Everybody wants to be rich, but only those who are prepared to work extra hard and equip themselves with knowledge and skills will be able to achieve success.
“Those people who remained poor is because they failed to grab economic opportunities and not because there were no opportunities,” he said.
Conversely, people who became rich were those who grabbed opportunities created by the state government’s economic programmes.
“They possesed the will and determination to break out of poverty,” Taib said.
Asking the people not to harbour feelings of dissatisfaction and envy against those who had become successful, Taib said Sarawakians should be positive in their thinking and exploit chances available to them.
Taib, 74, recently married 29-year-old Syrian Ragad Waleed al-Kurdi in a private ceremony at his residence in Petra Jaya here on Dec 18.
This is Taib’s second marriage. His first wife Laila Taib, a Polish-born Australian, died of cancer in April 2009 after 50 years of marriage.