Monday, 26 December 2016

Kisah Anak Taib Mahmud Yang Gagal Beli Syarikat Bugatti


Sulaiman Abdul Rahman Bin Abdul Taib Mahmud, anak kepada Ketua Menteri Sarawak ( kini Yang di-Pertua Negeri Sarawak ) mempunyai perancangan untuk membeli syarikat automotif berprestij, Bugatti bagi menambah bilangan perniagaan dibawah pemilikan keluarga mereka. Bagaimanapun, rakan Sulaiman menyatakan bahawa TS Taib Tahmud kurang berminat dengan cadangan itu. Ketua Menteri yang mengawal aliran wang untuk keluarganya itu membantah cadangan itu. Menurutnya lagi, Sulaiman mengambil masa hampir seminggu untuk berbincang mengenai cadangan perniagaan itu.

Pendedahan mengenai kisah Sulaiman Taib ini diceritakan oleh rakan sekolejnya iaitu Kevin C. Limjoco yang pernah belajar sekali di San Francisco bersamanya. Ketika berada di sana, beliau juga dikenali sebagai seorang playboy dan penggemar kereta sports. Meskipun begitu, rakan perniagaanya menyifatkan beliau sebagai seorang yang teragak-agak dalam membuat keputusan ketika ditugaskan untuk menguruskan syarikat rahsia TS Taib Mahmud di Amerika Syarikat, Sakti International.


Kevin C. Limjoco

Dato Sulaiman Abdul Rahman B. Abdul Taib Mahmud
Kisahnya bermula di butik pakaian Itali yang terletak di Tiburon, Marin Country, California. Saya tidak bershopping, tetapi kawan saya sedang membeli belah. Dia mendekatkan diri kepada saya dan berkata " awak pernah dengar mengenai Bugatti EB110 ? ". Saya menjawab " sudah tentu, kereta itu hebat namun hampir mustahil untuk dijumpai ". Dia pun tersenyum. Kisah itu berlaku pada musim panas tahun 1994. Kawan saya dan saya merupakan penuntut baru dalam bidang perniagaan di University of San Fransciso. Nama beliau ialah Datuk Sulaiman Abdul Rahman Bin Abdul Taib Mahmud.

Beliau merupakan salah seorang 'kerabat diraja' di Malaysia. Bapanya merupakan Ketua Menteri Sarawak dan keluarganya memiliki lebih 100 buah perniagaan dalam pelbagai sektor seperti sekuriti sehinggalah pembalakan.

Secara peribadinya, beliau merupakan orang pertama yang saya kenal yang mempunyai pelbagai kereta ekzotik. Mereka yang tidak mengenali beliau kebiasaannya agak kehairanan dengannya. Hal ini kerana beliau sentiasa mempunyai kereta baharu selang beberapa minggu. Beliau mempunyai pelbagai jenis kereta daripada Mercedes model K yang bernilai jutaan dolar, Mercedes SL Gullwing, Ferrari 355 Spyder, Rolls Royce Corniche, Maserati Kamsin hinggalah ke 'kereta biasa' seperti Mercedes S500. Kadang kala, beliau terpaksa menghantar pulang koleksi keretanya ke Sarawak bagi mengemas garajnya dari berselerak. Disebabkan itu, saya tahu bila dia berbicara mengenai Bugatti EB110, dia betul-betul serius untuk memilikinya. Beliau mempunyai agen yang akan menjelajah ke serata dunia bagi mencari kereta yang diidamkan oleh beliau.


Ketika kami keluar dari butik tersebut, beliau dengan bersemangatnya memberitahu saya yang bukan satu tetapi terdapat dua buah Bugatti EB110 akan tiba di San Franscisco. Satu beliau  beli daripada mamat Jepun di Detroit dan sebuah lagi dari Lousiana kalau tidak silap saya. Adalah amat menggagumkan apabila beliau dapat mencari kereta ini di US. Beliau tidak pernah memberitahu berapa harga yang beliau bayar untuk membeli kereta tersebut kerana bagi beliau, adalah kurang sopan untuk membincangkan mengenai harga bersama rakan-rakan. Perasaan ingin tahu itu membuak-buak dan saya ketika itu menganggarkan bahawa harga EB110 ini paling kurang pun bernilai US$500,000.

Sejujurnya, saya tidak tahu. Dia tak pernah bagi tahu dan saya pun tak pernah tanya. Harga EB110 itu boleh dikatakan setanding dengan Lamborghini Diablo, Ferrari 512TR dan Jaguar XJ220. Memandangkan ia berada di kelasnya tersendiri, harga tersebut boleh dianggap berbaloi untuk dibayar kerana pencapaian dan prestijnya. Meskipun begitu, harga yang dibayar tidak mampu menandingi kos untuk membina dan memasarkan kereta itu yang ditanggung oleh Bugatti.
Salah sebuah Bugatti EB110 yang berada di Malaysia
Dua minggu kemudian, saya berada di rumah beliau untuk makan tengah hari pada hari Ahad. Beliau mengajak saya ke garajnya. Secara keseluruhannya, Bugatti membina 154 unit EB110 termasuk 12 unit yang sedang berada di assembly line. Michael Schumacher merupakan salah seorang pemilik bertuah model ini. Tapi, Sulaiman ada dua unit kereta ini... " Dan itu dia " Bugatti EB110 berwarna hitam. saya terpegun... Mid Engine, 3.5 liter, 12 silinder, 60V, quad cam, 4 turbo, all wheel drive, 6 speed, rangka carbon fibre, 6 piston ABS brake, 611 kuasa kuda, 0-100 dalam 3.4 saat, kelajuan maksimum 355km/j dan tork berkuasa 480lbs. 

Bahagian dalaman kereta ini juga tidak mengecewakan memandangkan ia dipadankan dengan panel veneer Burl Wood, tempat letak barangan yang baik serta tempat duduk kulit yang diukir kemas. Kereta beliau itu merupakan kereta paling laju yang pernah saya naik. Pada satu hari Ahad, kami melalui sebuah cafe di Broadway Street di downtown San Francisco. Disini, kesemua pemilik kereta ekzotik sering menayangkan koleksi kereta mereka. Mata pemilik-pemilik Ferrari dan Lamborghini terbeliak bila beliau memecut kereta tersebut. Saya teringat pada suatu hari Bugatti EB110 tersebut mencabar Ferrari F40 di Laguna Seca. Ferrari tersebut menang tipis tetapi pemandu EB110 itu memandu dengan membuka air-cond, muzik yang kuat dan memandu secara santai. 

Disebabkan kereta itu, Sulaiman membuat sedikit kajian mengenai syarikat Bugatti melalui rakan-rakannya di Modena, Itali ( tempat terletaknya kilang Lamborghini, Ferrari dan De Tomaso ). Beliau mendapati yang kilang Bugatti, yang dimiliki oleh taikun Itali, Romano Artioli sedang mengalami masalah dan dalam proses diisytiharkan bankrap.

Romano Artioli
Beliau terus menghubungi pemiliknya dan mendapati bahawa isu ini telah dibawa ke mahkamah. Artioli telah menfailkan pengisytiharan bankrap. Melalui kabel yang kuat, beliau menghantar peguamnya ke Itali untuk melihat perspektif bagaimana syarikat ini boleh dibeli. Beliau meletakkan dirinya sebagai pembeli berpotensi sebaris dengan nama-nama besar yang lain seperti Fiat dan Volkswagen.

Pada detik itu, beliau percaya yang cita-citanya untuk menjadi kuasa besar dalam bidang automotif ini akan tercapai. Motivasinya ialah kereta itu sendiri dan diinspirasikan oleh syarikat PROTON yang mengeluarkan keretanya sendiri di Malaysia. Dalam masa yang sama, Presiden Suharto ( Indonesia ) juga mempunyai saham dalam syarikat Lamborghini. Memiliki Bugatti akan meletakkan diri beliau sama standard dengan mereka semua.

Berbalik kisah di mahkamah... Wang yang diperlukan untuk membeli Bugatti termasuk kilang di Modena, tanah milik Bugatti, segala paten, reka bentuk, pelan, hak dagangan ( trade mark ), mesin, hak milik terhadap syarikat-syarikat yang lain dan 12 unit kereta Bugatti EB110 yang belum diwarnakan lagi berjumlah US$25 juta. Bagaimana seorang warga Filipina terlibat dalam semua ini?

Kevin C. Limjoco
Perancangannya adalah untuk membina kilang pengeluaran bersama di Sarawak dan Filipina. Bugatti mempunyai perancangan rahsia untuk mengeluarkan kereta sports sedan mampu milik untuk bersaing dengan Mercedes C-Class dan BMW 3 series. Bugatti EB110 juga akan dikeluarkan semula tetapi di Modena. Kereta sports sedan yang baharu itu akan direka dengan kerjasama Lotus bagi mengurangkan kos selain menggunakan kepakaran mereka dalam bidang pembangunan enjin, chasis suspension dan coachwork. Majoriti kereta tersebut akan dibina di Sarawak manakala selebihnya ( 35% ) akan dibina sama ada di Subic ataupun Clark yang terletak di Filipina.

Dalam usaha menjayakan misi ini, kami perlu memberikan jaminan bank sebanyak US$ 5 juta bagi mengukuhkan komitmen kami untuk tempoh 30 hari. Sebagai ganjaran, mereka yang membantu mendapatkan jaminan bank akan diberikan EB110 yang masih berada dalam stok. Walaupun Sulaiman mempunyai akses wang untuk keseluruhan US$ 25 juta, beliau masih memerlukan 30 hari untuk mendapatkan kebenaran dan restu daripada bapanya, Tan Sri Taib Mahmud tanpa perlu terlibat dalam risiko kewangan. ( Tanggungjawab itu diberikan kepada saya kerana saya berada di Filipina untuk mencari mereka yang berminat untuk terlibat dalam pembelian ini )


Dalam tempoh beberapa hari, kami meninggalkan AS dan saya ke Filipina manakala Sulaiman pulang ke Sarawak. Tugas beliau adalah mendapatkan kebenaran dan restu dari bapanya manakala tugas saya adalah untuk mendapatkan jaminan bank. Waktu sentiasa mencemburui kami sepanjang masa. Sulaiman memerlukan seminggu sebelum dapat berjumpa dengan bapanya. Saya pula masih terkial-kial mencari pelabur berpotensi di Filipina. Ia merupakan tugas yang sukar bagi meyakinkan orang mengenai peluang yang menarik ini. Ironinya, saya hanya perlu mendapatkan jaminan sahaja bukannya wang fizikal. Sulaiman yang akan membayar setiap sen dalam tempoh tiga puluh hari. Bukan sahaja kami dapat membina peluang pekerjaan untuk rakyat kami tetapi setiap seorang daripada mereka ( penjamin ) akan mendapat sebuah Bugatti EB110 yang baharu.

Kami hanya mempunyai beberapa hari sahaja lagi dan ayah Sulaiman ( TS Taib Mahmud ) masih tidak memberikan lampu hijau. Saya berusaha keras untuk menjayakan hal ini kerana saya tahu, jika semuanya berjalan seperti yang direncanakan, Sulaiman pasti dapat mengeluarkan US$ 25 juta tersebut. Detik yang ditunggu-tunggu pun tiba, TS Taib Mahmud tidak berminat dengan cadangan itu dan saya kurang US$2 juta. Ia merupakan saat-saat kelam. Saya memujuk Sulaiman untuk menambah baki wang jaminan yang tidak cukup sementara memberi ruang waktu untuk ayahnya ( TS Taib Mahmud ) untuk berfikir balik mengenai cadangannya itu. Namun beliau enggan... Beliau menerima hakikat bahawa budayanya berbeza dengan saya dan saya mungkin tidak akan faham mengenai perkara tersebut. Impian saya berkecai... Air muka kami jatuh dan ia memberi impak kepada hubungan persahabatan kami.

Beberapa minggu kemudian, terdapat kenyataan umum yang dibuat oleh Volkswagen dimana mereka akan membeli Bugatti yang akan menambahkan lagi rasa bangga rakyat Jerman. Saya mengakhiri kisah ini dengan hati yang berat... Namun siapa tahu, seperti orang selalu kata... " Satu pintu tertutup... akan ada pintu lain yang terbuka ".

Digunakan dengan kebenaran oleh :
Kevin C. Limjoco
Pengarang kanan
C! Magazine
Artikel ini diambil dari website Beta C! Magazine.

Dialihbahasa oleh Classic Cars Malaysia

Artikel ini telah dikeluarkan oleh Sarawak Report. Ia masih berada dalam arkib laman web berkenaan namun disebabkan kerajaan Malaysia menyekat laman web anti-korupsi itu, ia tidak dapat diakses.

Sulaiman Abdul Rahman Taib pernah menjadi Timbalan Menteri Pelancongan ketika menjadi Ahli Parlimen Kota Samarahan pada pilihan raya umum ke-12. Namun disebabkan beberapa isu, beliau meletak jawatan pada tahun 2009.

Bapa beliau, Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud ( Yang diPertua Negeri Sarawak ) sememangnya dikenali sebagai penggemar tegar kereta. Classic Cars Malaysia pernah menulis satu artikel khas untuk beliau seorang sahaja.

Artikel asal

Bugatti buy-out plan

Sulaiman Abdul Rahman Taib wanted to buy out Bugatti, manufacturers of the world’s most expensive cars, to add to the family’s ‘hundred  businesses’, according to one of his close college friends.  However, his Dad, Abdul Taib Mahmud, described as ‘Malaysian Monarchy’ by Rahman’s pal, was less enthusiastic. The Chief Minister, who clearly controls the family purse strings, vetoed the plan.  It had taken Rahman a week to get an audience with his Dad in order to discuss the idea.

The disclosures about Rahman Taib (as he was known in the US) come in an on-line article for the Bugatti Review by Kevin C Limjoco, who was a college friend of Rahman’s in San Francisco and a member of his fast set in the States.  Taib’s younger son clearly acted the part of a multi-millionaire playboy during his period in San Francisco, according to this and other reports, and was a notorious fast car fanatic.  Conversely, business associates say he failed to show any business acumen when put in charge of the secretive Taib property company in the US, Sakti International.

A playboy with violent passions

The article in the on-line ‘Bugatti Review’ gives a telling insight into how the Taib family are regarded by onlookers abroad, namely as jett-setting multi-millionaires akin to Arab Princes or Sultans of Brunei.  On one occasion, it is known that in a fit of passion young Rahman even smashed up one of his classic cars, a million dollar Bugatti, with a fire extinguisher.  However, his father clearly forgave the incident as he subsequently recalled his son to Sarawak, where he inherited his father’s seat in the Federal Parliament and was recently appointed Deputy Tourism Minister, a job he has now mysteriously abandoned.

Worryingly, there seems no recognition in Taib circles abroad that in fact the Chief Minister of Sarawak is merely a salaried employee of the State, on a modest income and subject to regular elections to office.  The concept of the Chief Minister as a ‘Godfather’ figure behind a hundred businesses is even more disturbing, not least because it is undoubtedly true.

As the political figure in charge of governing Sarawak, Abdul Taib Mahmud has no right to be involved in business ventures, primarily because this would clash with his official duties and create conflicts of interest.  It is for this reason that Taib has always maintained the facade of a family active in business.  Now that we know that he is indeed in control of the money and keeps his family at his beck and call, he should openly declare his activities and publicise all his interests immediately.

A suitable successor?

Despite his playboy record, youthful Sulaiman Abdul Rahman Taib has often been touted as a likely successor to his ailing and aged father.  Thus, while Taib Mahmud has started to visibly crumble in the face of recent political failures and exposure for political corruption, the Taib political circles are clearly looking at immediate family to succeed, as if Sarawak were indeed a Monarchy to be passed from father to son, rather than a democratic state of Malaysia, which is its official status.  It is this attitude that is likely to turn a normal political handover into a succession crisis for Sarawak.

Read the full article by Kevin C Limjoco (a truly compelling read for Bugatti-lovers and residents of Sarawak) below:

Kevin C. Limjoco 

IT ALL BEGAN AT A POSH ITALIAN CLOTHING boutique in Tiburon, Marin County, California. I was not shopping, but my friend was. He leaned over to me as we were browsing and asked: “have you ever heard of a Bugatti EB110, lah?” my eyes lit up and immediately said, “yes, of course, the car is awesome but aren’t they nearly impossible to find?” He simply smiled. It was the summer of 1994; my friend and I were juniors majoring in business at the University of San Francisco. His name is Datuk Sulaiman Rahman Taib.

He is part of the Malaysian Monarchy, his father was and still is the Chief Minister of Sarawak, and his family owns over 100 companies, ranging from Sarawak Securities to logging, hence, the reason he refers to me as “lah” or buddy.

He was the first person I knew that had personally owned a vast number of ultra exotic automobiles. People who did not know Rahman were perplexed and ultimately intimidated by him. He seemingly had a new car every couple of weeks, and had a dedicated car shop and storage facility, (Conversion Techniques owned by John Siao,) that catered to his every whim. He had everything from an old K-type Mercedes Benz worth over a million dollars, an SL Gullwing, Ferrari 355 spider, Rolls Royce Corniche, Maserati Kamsin, to a “regular” S500 Mercedes. He had so many cars that he would routinely send them off to his home in Sarawak to clear his garage of the clutter. Therefore, when he asked me whether I knew what a Bugatti EB 110 was, my palms started to moisten because I knew that Rahman takes his “hobby” very seriously. He has “agents” scour the globe looking for cars that he desires

As we stepped out of the boutique, he excitedly told me that he had 
not one, but two Bugatti EB 110s coming to San Francisco! One, he picked up from a Japanese fellow somewhere near Detroit and the other near Louisiana I believe. It is an amazing feat in its self that he was able to find these cars in the US and in the most unlikely locals. He never disclosed the amount he paid because he always felt it was rude to discuss figures amongst friends. Man, I was curious though, because at its height these cars were worth over US$500,000.00. 

Well, I will never know. He did not volunteer it and I never asked. The EB110 prices itself ‘humbly’ between the Lamborghini Diablo, Ferrari 512TR and the Jaguar XJ220. It seemed to be a bargain considering its high level of achievement and prestigious marques, but still world sales never made up for the cost of building and marketing the automobile.

Two weeks later I was over at Rahman’s for Sunday lunch when he motioned me to go with him to his garage, I was ecstatic. I knew well enough that he was anti-climatic. Bugatti built a grand total of 154 cars, which included the 12 cars in the assembly line. Michael Schumacher is one of the lucky owners. Moreover, Rahman has two of them! There it was… a black Bugatti EB110 SS! I was in awe. What a super car: mid-engine, 3.5liter, 12 cylinder, 60V, Quad cam, 4 turbo, All wheel drive, 6 speed, carbon fiber frame, six piston ABS brakes, 611 bhp, 0-100 in 3.4 seconds, 355 km/h top speed, and 480 lbs. torque! On top of this, the car’s interior boasted such luxuries as a full Burl wood interior, a proper luggage compartment, power everything, a CD changer and sculptured leather seats! Rahman’s EB110SS is still the fastest car that I have ever had the privilege to ride in. One Sunday, we drove past a cafĂ© on Broadway street in downtown San Francisco where all exotic car owners conglomerate to show off their steeds, you should have seen the piercing eyes of the Ferrari and Lamborghini owners as we inched by then had all 4 tires scream in unison as Rahman floored the car to the next block! The Bugatti is truly a rocket ship on wheels. I recall a race once where a Bugatti EB110 GT- the lesser of the brothers – challenged a Ferrari F40 in Laguna Seca. The Ferrari won by a hair, but the EB110 driver drove with his aircon on, stereo blaring, and sat in opulence. However, that is another story, sorry folks.

Because of the car and the research that Rahman made on purchasing it, a unique opportunity presented itself. Through his network of moles in the capital of sports cars, Modena, Italy, (home to Ferrari, De Tomaso, Masseratti, and Lamborghini), he discovered that the Bugatti factory – owned by Italian tycoon Romano Artioli – was going bankrupt.

He quickly made contact with the owner only to find out in secret (a few months before the news went public) that the issue was already at the courts. Artioli had already filed for bankruptcy. Once again through his vast resources, Rahman had somehow sent his lawyers to Italy to jockey for position in the event that Bugatti would be sold. He miraculously secured the top position, above a list that included such huge names as Volkswagen and Fiat.

At this point, it would seem that Rahman’s ambition to be a world force in the car industry would be insured. His driving force was as relentless as the car itself proved to be. His inspiration at the time (1994) was that Malaysia had just began producing their very own car line, Proton (through a partnership with Mitsubishi Motors Japan) and that Prime Minister Suharto of Indonesia had the majority stake of Lamborghini. He wanted to top them all! Now back to the Italian courts, the amount needed to purchase all of Bugatti, which included the entire factory in Modena, all land owned by Bugatti, all patents, designs, plans, trademarks, machinery, positions with sister companies and other manufacturers, and the remaining unpainted 12 EB110s in the factory, hold on to your seats: a “mere” US$25 million!
Where did the Philippines fit in all of this? The ultimate plan was to have joint manufacturing facilities in Sarawak and the Philippines. Bugatti had a secret plan to build an affordable sports sedan that would compete with the BMW 3 series and the Mercedes Benz C-class. The EB110 would be revived again but built in Modena by order basis. The new sports sedan was designed with the help of Lotus to reduce building costs, using their experience with a more economical engine, chassis, suspension and coach works. The majority of the car would be built in Sarawak with the remaining 35% either in Subic or in Clark. In order for this vision to be realized, we had to give the courts a bank guarantee of US$5 Million to hold our position for 30 days. As a sweetener to individuals who helped get the bank guarantee, Rahman would give a brand new EB110 in any color from the last remaining stocks in Italy. This is where things get a little complicated. Though Rahman himself had access to the full US$25M, let alone a meager $5M guarantee, he still needed the 30 days to get approval and a final blessing from his father Datuk Taib without having committed any financial responsibilities. (That was left to me since I was gunning for a Philippine stake in this enterprise.)



Within days we both left the US and head to our prospective countries to execute our plans. His task was to get ultimate approval; my task was to get the bank guarantee. Time was against us at every turn. It took Rahman a week to get an audience with his father. I on the other hand was scrabbling all over Manila looking for prospective investors to issue the guarantee. It was a lot more difficult than I had imagined convincing people of the exciting opportunity. What was ironic was that I only needed to cough up a guarantee and not the physical money. Rahman would be the one to pay for every cent after 30 days and not only would we be able to create jobs for our compatriots, but everyone would be justly compensated with a bonus of an EB110! We had a few days left now and Rahman’s father had not given his approval. I was hard pressed to keep trying, I knew that if we could get the position within 30 days that it would not be unreasonable to believe that Rahman would be able to draw the US$25M; he had it in his own bank accounts! The final hour arrived, Rahman did not get his father’s blessing, and I was short of US$2M. That was indeed a dark hour. I pleaded with Rahman to simply give the remaining balance for the guarantee, which would give him enough time to ask his father to reconsider. He would not budge. He resigned himself to the fact that it was a cultural difference and that I would not understand. I was flabbergasted. My dreams had crumbled. The loss of face on both parties was so great that it affected our friendship severely. A few weeks later, there was a public announcement at the press that Volkswagen had ultimately purchased what could have been a tremendous future for our fellow citizens. I end this story with a heavy heart, but who knows? As it once was said, “as one door closes, another will open.”

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