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(Part 3) The Sarawak Oil Grab: The Scary Movie of 1MDB and PETROS

Previous article: Read Part 2 of this series

2018 was a busy year for Norza Zakaria, the non-executive Chairman of London Stock Exchange listed Upland Resources. This was especially so around the time of Malaysia’s 14th General Elections (GE14) on 9th May 2018.

Norza Zakaria had given up his position at Upland Resources citing increasing commitments back at home. He was elected the new Olympic Council of Malaysia president in July 2018. At the same time, he was also the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) president. His reason for resigning was that he wanted to focus on winning Malaysia’s first gold medal at the Olympic games in Tokyo in badminton. And talk shop with Tony Fernandes – his now good friend who is chairman of Malaysian Stadium Corporation.

But did Norza he really give up his position at Upland because he had too much on his plate?  Or was it more likely that Sarawak’s political elite needed somebody else to be seen to head Uplands as Norza was tainted as being Najib and Rosmah’s man? He was on the boards of Petronas, Bintulu Port and many others.

The tripartite alliance of Upland, Brooke and Petros was solely to hijack control of Sarawak’s oil and gas reserves from Petronas.

The formation of Petros to control Sarawak’s oil and gas resources was part of the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) government’s concession to Sarawak’s political elite to keep Sarawak’s parties within the BN coalition with the hope of retaining the 25 seats they had won in the previous elections. BN’s agreement was seen as a massive concession by then prime minister Najib Razak, whose position in the run up to the GE14 had become increasingly weak. Najib also needed access to some of Sarawak’s oil money, away from the prying eyes of Petronas, to plug the leaks from the1MDB scandal. It was a win-win situation for all.  

In the early hours of May10th as results of GE14 started to trickle in it was apparent that this whole plan was going to unravel horribly. Sarawak only delivered 19 parliamentary seats while BN fared considerably worse in other states.

The BN government was no more. And Norza Zakaria’s position at Upland was by now very shaky. He had been put there because of his close relationship to former PM Najib and his wife Rosmah who planted Norza Zakaria as their man to jointly plunder the oil and gas sector in Sarawak with PBB and SUPP.

Bolhassan Di, a non-executive director at Upland replaced Norza Zakaria as non-executive chairman in July 2018, right after Brooke and Upland signed an MOU to jointly assess, explore and develop hydrocarbons in Sarawak, Malaysia.

Bolhassan Di is very close to the Sarawak establishment having been an elected member of the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly from 1987 to 2011. He also at least knew something about oil and gas having started his career at Shell in Sarawak. He is also Taib’s trusted lieutenant. He controlled Zecon Bhd (just divested due to a fight with Hamid Bugo) the same company which is building a 600-bed hospital in Cheras, rather than building more and better hospitals in Sarawak (this is now in massive trouble too). The funding was from the state government of Sarawak for a hospital in Semenanjung!

Zecon also has Hamid Bugo on its board. Hamid Bugo is also on the board of Sapura Energy and Chairman of Petros…you see the pattern.

Hamid Bugo and Kamarudin Meranun (Tony Fernandes partner and co-founder in Tune Investments who control 12% in Uplands) were directors in Malaysia Airlines previously. Read Part 2 of this series. Remember Tony Fernandes painted his plane in BN logo for Najib, when Najib was flying back from Sabah after campaigning.

Since Bolhassan took up the Chairmanship, things have not been going so well at Upland. Its share price has more than halved in less than a month in the beginning of 2019. This was largely due to the relationship between Upland, Brooke and Petros not being cemented yet – due to greed from all parties over Sarawak’s resources. However, just recently, Steve Staley, CEO of Uplands has been seen in Sarawak frequently in the Chief Minister’s office. This unholy alliance between Tony & Kamarudin, Uplands and Brooke Dockyard may now just take off…how badly this would impact Sarawak’s future generations is unimaginable.

Tony cheats, he is a dirty and ruthless businessman – does not want pay Malaysian Airports, now cheats the poor Nepalese by not wanting to pay them, fought with Mauritius so they cancelled Air Asia, and then fought with Indonesia so now their bookings are available on Traveloka. He will cheat Sarawak for sure!

Events in other parts of Malaysia have unfolded at a breakneck speed leaving Sarawak far behind, still tackling ghosts from its past. Barisan Nasional has all but disintegrated while Sarawakian parties which were once part of the coalition have regrouped under the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) umbrella. The new coalition is trying to retain the power structure it had previously, still strategised by the silver fox.

Sarawak’s SCORE (Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy) project whose aim was to bring development and foreign investment into the state much like 1MDB has proved to be a failure with the government running into huge debt as a result of leakages and corruption. The project has been ongoing since 2008 without much going on there apart from the Samalaju Industrial Park. SCORE to Taib was like 1MDB to Najib. Enrichment opportunity. And now PETROS seems likely to become another scary movie giving Sarawakians nightmares for years to come. Just like 1MDB.

It is up to Sarawakians to decide if they want to stop supporting these bad movies and the villains like Norza, Bolhassan, Tony, Kamaruddin, Steve Staley and AJ acting in it.

AOGM Team

Read Part 1: The Sarawak Oil Grab – Is Petros the 1MDB of Sarawak?

Read Part 2: The Sarawak Oil Grab – Is Petros the 1MDB of Sarawak? Tony’s Tune Backed Taib and Najib