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Balak, Bauxite, Durian and now Pasir. How Pahang State & Pahang Royals are complicit in cleaning dirty money!

Sand is a key ingredient for concrete, roads, glass, and electronics. Massive amounts of sand are mined for land reclamation projects, and beach renourishment programs, and there is a growing global demand for sand. It is the most extracted material globally. Eleven billion tons of sand were mined for construction alone in 2010 and in the last twenty-five years, the international trade value of sand has increased sixfold!.

However, the negative consequences where sand is exploitatively mined results in the physical alteration of rivers, riverbanks, river bed degradation, coastal ecosystems, increases suspended sediments and deterioration of water quality. It causes erosion. Sand mining operations in Pahang are affecting animal species, including crustaceans, exotic fish species, and Udang Galah. Environmental problems also occur when the rate of extraction of sand, gravel, and other materials exceeds the rate at which natural processes generate these materials.  

It also has serious impacts on people’s livelihoods. Beaches and wetlands buffer coastal communities against surging seas. Increased erosion resulting from extensive mining makes these communities more vulnerable to floods and storm surges seriously threatening the sustainability of the muara (river estuary). State regulations and strategies to manage the mining of sand in Pahang is suspect. Sand like clean air, water, and other natural endowments must be managed responsibly to ensure sustainability and guard against harm to the environment.    

India are importing sand because they want to protect their own depleting natural source reserve. 

The export of sand from Pahang to China, India and Hong Kong is a lucrative business for those involved in it. It brings income to the State, to the Pahang Royals and the Chinese Towkays “investing” and managing the operations  It also serves as a means to launder many millions of dirty money from the proceed of organized crime and smuggling. Stay with me and I will tell you how it is all done.

First the structure of things.

Sand is a State matter and thereby hangs a sorry tale. As in Balak, Bauxite, Land, and other state matters, the potential for exploitation of these resources for the financial gain of those with links to the state political apparatus is staggering, but it takes two to tango. The State has sand and the state decides who will mine that sand but the export of sand to China, India, and Hong Kong, requires an Approved Permit. That AP is granted by the Federal Government.

The permit to mine sand in Pahang is held by Perbadanan Pasir Pahang Berhad (PPPB). This is a Joint Venture Company with the following equity partners:

  • Pahang State Government: Equity held in PPPB is 40%

Sand is mined by PPPB in the following areas :

  • Sungai Pahang
  • Sungai Burbar
  • Muara Kuala Rompin. (Tengku Putri Iman Afzan. Daughter of Julia Abdul Rais)
  • Muara Sungai Pontian. (Tengku Fahad – Tengku Arif Temenggong Pahang, Son of Sultanah Kalsom and Brother to the Agong)

On a practical level, how does it all work?

PPPB “invites” companies to work these concessions. Each of these concessions is valued at approximately RM2 million and that concession payment is split 60/40 between Polo Specialist Trading Sdn Bhd and the State government as per equity held by the respective companies. 

For each metric ton mined the tribute paid to PPPB is $4 per ton. The contractor also need to have the equipment to mine the sand. This means that many millions have to be expanded before mining starts. After the sand is mined the contractor pays Polo Specialist Trading Sdn Bhd an additional RM$3 per metric ton for use of the Approved Permits to export the sand to China, India, and Hong Kong. 

The Pahang Royals get double rations. $3 per metric ton for use of AP and 60% of takings by PPPB.  Estimated export : One million metric ton of sand a month. Projected income for the Royals in Pahang : RM6 million to RM 7 monthly. That’s no chicken feed!  A staggeringly lucrative income for doing what? For having the Approved Permits and 60% equity in PPPB.

Question: Who has that much money to invest upfront before seeing any income flow in? Who has millions to invest in Sand? Not the Pahang Royals. Not the State government. Not the local Bumiputra or Chinese Towkays. The “investors” are those with large amount of “dirty” cash that they need to put into the financial system to clean (read launder) the dirty money.  The sand mining business in Pahang is part of the process where the dirty black money accumulated from criminal activities are separated from its original source, mixed with legitimately-earned funds and then funneled back to its original source.

Two names stand out from the investors. 

  1. Dato Paul Phua:  Liquor and Cigarettes smuggling, and Online gambling. He is the Malaysian god of gamblers, The same Paul Phua whom Zahid Hamidi has vouched for: “Mr Phua has, on numerous occasions, assisted the Government of Malaysia on projects affecting our national security and accordingly we continue to call upon him to assist us from time to time and as such we are eager for him to return to Malaysia”. – Dato’ Seri Zahid Hamidi.

     2. Alex Ang : Loan Shark.

The state government and LHDN should verify the sources of funds invested in these mining operations to ensure that they come from legitimate sources. As for sand bringing in an income of over RM6 million monthly to the Pahang Royals what can we mortals do but treat it as “durian runtuh” for these Pahang Royals on top of what they have been “earning” from Balak, Bauxite, Durian and now sand! Daulat Tuanku! 

End of story.