Monday 02 Oct 2023
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This article first appeared in The Edge Malaysia Weekly on June 28, 2021 - July 4, 2021

Cahya Mata Sarawak Bhd has a hand in all segments of the economic pie in Sarawak. From road maintenance to cement and telecommunications, the company controlled by the family of Sarawak Yang di-Pertua Negeri and former chief minister Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud is easily the most influential corporate entity in the state.

However, it does not seem to have its house in order, especially with regards to the board of directors, which is undergoing constant changes amid an investigation into its accounts.

In the latest development, Taib’s son Datuk Seri Sulaiman Taib Mahmud has returned to the board as non-executive director. Together with Sulaiman, the board now has three members of the Taib family.

The other two are Datuk Seri Mahmud Abu Bekir Taib, who is Sulaiman’s older brother, and Tan Sri Dr Abdul Aziz Husain, their uncle. According to the announcement, Abdul Aziz is the former state secretary of Sarawak.

Sulaiman’s return to the CMS board comes as the company is in the midst of firming up the terms of arrangement for an external auditor to investigate possible financial mismanagement in the company’s investments and operations. The company suspended its chief financial officer on May 5 in relation to the investigations.

In April, Mahmud Abu Bekir went on voluntary leave to facilitate investigations into allegations of conflict of interest with the former chief information officer of CMS. But in May, the board decided to bring him back into the fold. And hardly six weeks later, Sulaiman is also back on the board of CMS.

The Taib family controls just over 22% of CMS; the rest is held by institutional funds. The irony is, the changes to the board and audit investigations have not helped shore up confidence in the company, leaving the rest of the shareholders to suffer.

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