GE14: Yayasan Sabah Timber Deals To Be Probed; RM360M Banked Overseas

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Photo used for illustration only.

By BORNETODAY
KOTA KINABALU: Yayasan Sabah’s timber operations will be thoroughly investigated once Parti Warisan comes to power, following revelations in a book, that millions of ringgit in logging profits was siphoned out of the State.

In speeches while campaigning statewide for Parti Warisan Sabah candidates, Shafie Apdal its president, had often touched on the book “Money Logging” by a Lukas Straumann (especially what was found on page 191).

SHAFIE APDAL

He stressed there is mention of USD90 million (or RM360 million approximate) in personal accounts with UBS in Hong Kong and Zurich (Switzerland) allegedly profits from timber transactions.

Shafie had also stressed that he found it strange that Musa Aman whose name was mentioned in the book, had yet to sue the author concerned to clear his name, and this could lead the people to believe that whatever was written in the book is true.

Shafie, leading the opposition charge in Sabah in its bid to oust the Barisan Nasional, was himself accused by former Yayasan Sabah top officials of trying to publicly list the foundation’s timber operations. The story made headlines in a local newspaper.

A senior officer of Yayasan Sabah, who requested not to be named for obvious reasons, in a statement issued by Parti Warisan Monday, said the people of Sabah must understand that the current leaders are only trying to shift the blame on to Shafie, following mounting attacks on them of ripping the foundation clean.

CYRIL PINSO

In the same statement, a former senior official with Yayasan Sabah, with more than 40 years of experience – especially Forestry Management and forestry affairs under his belt – has come out in defence of Shafie following headlines in a local daily accusing him of a ‘crime’ that never took place.

Cyril Pinso, who rose from a junior officer to acting CEO/Chairman of Rakyat Berjaya Sdn Bhd (RBJ) (Forestry Division) said the NBT deal which involved injecting a certain portion of timber concession to a public listed company was the idea of a corporate player at that time.

“(Datuk) Shafie was aware of the deal but he was not involved as he had left it to his officers to handle the details, which at that time, seemed a good business idea,” Pinso said in a statement Monday.

“For Haji Kadir Damsal and Tengku Adlin to add high propane fuel to fire in Monday’s ‘Daily Express’ front-paged report is unprofessional at the very least; they should have stayed out of the way. It was cheap publicity at best.”

Pinso, who was redesignated as Forestry Consultant in 1994 when the Barisan Nasional government took over the helm of the State, said he had met Shafie (who was once at Yayasan Sabah) on several occasions.

A screenshot of a portion of Page 191 of the book “Money Logging”

“On those occasions, I advised Datuk Shafie on the officers who should hold certain positions in the foundation and he followed my advice,” stressed Pinso, adding that if anyone should know forestry matters in Yayasan Sabah, the best person would be him.

Meanwhile the Yayasan Sabah confirmed that the proposed NBT deal never happened.

“Was there any harm caused by Datuk Shafie to Sabah Foundation? The obvious answer is, of course not.”

The same officer said that it could be true that Musa Aman, the head of the foundation, could have been successful in saving Yayasan Sabah from Shafie and businessmen, but voters now need to know whether the ‘ripping off’ story is true.

FLASHBACK: Junz Wong, right, together with party colleague Terrence Siambun, showing the book “Money Logging – On The Trail Of The Asian Timber Mafia”.

“Why talk about a deal that did not happen, and not a deal that happened,” charged the officer, adding that the people of Sabah who are also voters will then know and can decide for themselves who ripped off what.

“There are many stories circulating especially during this crazy (election) season. We don’t know which is fake and which is real.”

Pinso served Yayasan Sabah in various capacities from August 1, 1976 to 2012.

He started off as an Education Officer based in Kuala Lumpur (from September 1976 to December 1977), Assistant Career Guidance Officer (January 1978 to December 1978); and as Assistant Group Timber Operations Manager (Sandakan – January 1976 to May 31, 1976).

He went on study leave to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Forestry as well as a Masters in Business Administration in the United States of America.

Pinso returned to Yayasan Sabah on October 1983 and assumed the post of Assistant Forest Operations Manager at the Kota Kinabalu office overseeing the Sandakan, Lahad Datu and Tawau offices.

With the change of government in May 1985, he assumed the post of General Manager/Director of RBJ.