Back on 23rd June the Governor’s office at the Astana issued a police report denouncing as ‘Fake News’ articles such as the one that had appeared five days before in Sarawak Report, which revealed that Taib had been taken ill whilst flying to a foreign destination, believed to be Turkey.
The day before on 22nd June the same office had refuted what it described as ‘viral and unverified news’ on the subject, issuing a statement that Taib was “well and in good stead”.
Such was the intimidation with threats of a year in prison and fines of RM50,000 that few dared to discuss the well informed concerns that indicated these officials were lying. Sarawak Report was an exception, and given our sources we insisted that a more truthful account be provided.
It took a full month until, on the eve of Sarawak’s 60th Independence Day celebrations on 22nd July, the Astana was finally forced to issue a statement acknowledging that the Governor would not be able to attend the ceremonial highlight of the year, in which he was due to play the central role, because he remains abroad and under doctor’s orders to rest and not travel.
Two weeks later and we have the first statement on the matter by the Sarawak State Government admitting that the Governor is indeed ill and under medical supervision, but claiming that whilst he is clearly unable to perform his key ceremonial functions he is, from this foreign location where he is still resting, able to “perform his official and constitutional duties”.
There is no indication as to what has afflicted the elderly Governor, who has suffered from bowel cancer in the past, or why it has taken him six weeks to recuperate.
Neither has there has been a response to Sarawak Report’s information that the latest problem has been an intestinal occlusion (blockage) which is a serious condition requiring major surgery and hospitalisation, all of which is extremely challenging for those well past retirement age like the 87 year old Taib Mahmud.
Sarawak Report got the rest of it right, despite threats that the media should shut up and deceive the public. The Astana and state government should now be more forthcoming in their statements following such shameful deceptions.
They must explain what exactly is wrong with the stranded Governor, if they want the public to be confident that Taib is indeed performing his duties by zoom as opposed to suffering from a serious condition that has lasted several weeks.
Again, a photo of the Governor holding a copy of one of today’s Sarawak newspapers would do nicely.