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What Taib Mahmud can't buy

It is when you're near death that the vultures begin to circle above. Powerful politicians at the tail end of their careers understand this well.

Abdul Taib Mahmud may be a strongman in Sarawak, but he knows he will have to call it quits one day. At 71, and having been in power for 26 long years, that day is drawing near.

No wonder Taib is beginning to see haunting shadows everywhere. Otherwise he wouldn't be spooked by an innocuous report on allegations that he and his family were linked to a timber kickbacks scandal.

After all, this is not the first time he has been accused of corruption. In the old days, he would have ignored them and they would've died a natural death. But those pre-Internet days are gone.

That he sues an Umno newspaper, Utusan Malaysia, is also perhaps his way of warning Putrajaya not to - as in ex-premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad's words - 'kacau' (disturb) him.