A nautch girl who rose to become a ruthless ruler and good administrator, Begum Samru was not above exercising feminine wiles to attain her political ambitions!
Raja Petra Kamarudin
The company is called Carpet Raya Sdn Bhd (company number 492434-H). The paid up capital of the company is RM8.7 million. The company has five directors who are also the shareholders of the company; each holding almost equal shares in the company.
But I am interested in only one of its shareholders/directors who goes by the name of Deepak — 37 years old, unmarried, and good-looking enough to qualify for a Bollywood movie.
The company was registered ten years ago on 26 August 1999. The last accounts filed with the Registrar of Companies on 24 November 2006 shows that the company has total assets of almost RM90 million, total liabilities of about RM67 million, and reserves of more than RM12 million.
The revenue of the company for 2005 was RM122 million and the profit in excess of RM7 million. Of course, the RM7 million profit is the official or declared profit. No company in Malaysia declares its real profits anyway. So, on a revenue base of RM122 million, you can expect the real or undeclared profit to be many times that.
But that was the accounts for 2005, which was four years ago. How much more has the company made over the last four years, which they prefer to keep hidden from public view? Take my word for it. We are talking about hundreds of millions here.
The company is supposed to be in the business of selling carpets. Is the carpet business really that lucrative that one can earn hundreds of millions? RM122 million a year is sure a lot of carpets. Ah, but that is not really what the company does for a living. The carpet business is just a front. Sure, they do sell carpets. But that is not where the real money is. The real business of the company is to act as the Bagman for Rosmah Mansor, the wife of the Prime Minister.
I met the Carpetman more than a year ago. He asked to meet through a mutual acquaintance because he was alarmed that I was about to reveal that the Carpetman is actually Rosmah’s Bagman. But that was not the thing that got him all flustered. What did was the revelation I was going to make that he is not only the Carpetman who is Rosmah’s Bagman but that he is also her Toyboy.
I only do business with Rosmah, said the Carpetman. My relationship with Rosmah is only for business purposes. I am not sleeping with Rosmah, he pleaded. So please do not tell the public that I am Rosmah’s Toyboy. The impression he wanted to make is that his relationship with Rosmah is confined to the boardroom and does not extend to the bedroom.
Well, that is not what Mumtaz Jaafar says. And who is Mumtaz Jaafar? Hey, if I start talking about her then I would also have to mention her relationship with Saiful, the person who alleges that Anwar Ibrahim sodomised him. And if I start talking about that then we will end up talking about the Sodomy 2 case as well. So let’s get back to the subject of the Carpetman, Rosmah’s Bagman cum Toyboy.
The whole country is very focused on Najib Tun Razak’s extramarital affairs. Sure, every Malaysian knows about this. And every Malaysian also knows about him getting caught in a Port Dickson hotel room with Ziana Zain. In fact, Isa Samad even had photographs of Najib clad only in a towel with the delicious young thing in his bed. And Isa handed the photograph over to the then Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. (And that is why Mahathir just does not understand why Najib would choose Isa to contest the Bagan Pinang by-election when it was Isa who tried to bring Najib down with the photograph).
Anyway, let’s not digress too far. As I said, every Malaysian knows about Najib’s extramarital affairs. But how many also know that Rosmah has a penchant for Bollywood types. Hell, she will even arrange datukships for them if they treat her the way she loves to be treated, if you know what I mean. And this particular chap I am talking about, the Carpetman cum Bagman cum Toyboy, is far better looking than Shahrukh Khan (or is it Datuk Shahrukh Khan now?) — not to mention younger as well.
Yes, I have been keeping this story under wraps for more than a year now. But it is now time that the story be told. There is more, though. Deepak the Carpetman cum Bagman cum Toyboy has been very naughty. And all these naughty deeds were done on behalf of Rosmah.
In due course more will be revealed about the role of the Carpetman and how he has served Rosmah. Today is not the time to do that though. So stay tuned for further episodes of the Carpetman cum Bagman cum Toyboy of the so-called First Lady of Malaysia.
ALLING IN LOVE IS JUST POSSIBLE, AND EASY TOO. JUST CLOSE YOUR EYES AND BELIEVE!
Who can deny the romance and adventure of history? I am fascinated when a visit to a regular town reveals trails of history that lead you to unbelievable stories of love, bravery, loyalty and fortitude – emotions so deep and abiding that their tentacles reach through the travails of time and wrap you in a soft cloud of memories and romance.
Could I then have resisted following Begum Samru’s romantic trail when I found myself in Meerut? Not a chance! Hers is an amazing story of a pretty nautch girl of Chandni Chowk who rose to become the Begum of the principality of Sardhana near Meerut, and an influential person in the court of Emperor Shah Alam II. A Muslim girl who converted to Christianity and was the only local Catholic ruler in India! A convert who actually built a church in Sardhana that is today a Minor Basilica and an important pilgrimage spot for Christians!
And so we set off on the dusty track road that leads to Sardhana from Meerut. Letting my imagination flow, I wondered how the diminutive 4-1/2 -foot turbaned Begum Samru rode on horseback along these paths two centuries ago while I was being knocked sore in the relative comfort of a car! But then she, I believe, was made of far sterner material than most women today.
The queen of intrigue in a time of political chicanery, the Begum gained a reputation for administering her lands and feminine wiles with equal expertise.
At the age of 14, Samru, then nautch girl Farzana, had caught the eye of a European mercenary soldier Walter Reinhardt Sombre, whom she married in 1775. Inheriting the principality of Sardhana upon his death, she led her troops in many crucial battles, particularly against the British.
What I find particularly fascinating about Samru is that despite being the best amongst male administrators and warriors of the time, and a ruthless leader who used brute force against opponents, she did not lose her womanly instincts of kindness to her subjects, nor her feminine graces or romantic instincts! The Begum was involved in many fascinating affaires d’coeur. Wooed by European officers, she grew close to Frenchman Le Vassoult. Her troops mutinied over her rumored marriage to him; the passionate Begum who gave her all in love, tried to elope with him and later survived an attempt at suicide when she heard he had been killed. When British General Gerard Lake kissed her in enthusiasm, the Begum had to pacify her troops by explaining diplomatically that it was like the kiss of a priest to a “repentant child”!
Historian John Lall describes her in his book Begum Samru, “Farzana grew into a rare beauty with flashing eyes, pearl complexion and lively wit.” What adds an exciting edge is that the Begum “had no qualms about her character!”
Our first stop in Sardhana was the beautiful Basilica of Our Lady of Graces, a Roman Catholic Church that Begum Samru built using the best craftsmen and materials available. And yet, because of her Muslim origins, the lady herself was denied a burial in the very church that depicts her life through a series of statues next to the Sanctuary inside!
Inside is a sight to be taken in slowly and absorbed — the historical irony is difficult to escape! The Begum enshrined next to Lord Jesus, Mother Mary and other Christian saints. There atop an 18-foot edifice, the Muslim-born convert Begum Samru sits resplendent forever, smoking her hookah in a church dedicated to Virgin Mary! The Begum certainly had the last laugh! Engraved in marble by Italian sculptor Adamo Tadolini, preserved for posterity, Samru is surrounded by European and Indian courtiers, amongst them interestingly, her Diwan, Rae Singh, who was the great grandfather of Motilal Nehru! In the same marble tableau, the Begum is depicted through various statues as a powerful, benevolent and stern leader.
A touching sight greets us at what was once the Begum’s palace in Sardhana and is now St Charles’ Inter College. A garden full of the most exotic roses here is dedicated to the Begum. It was in a room atop this palace that the Begum died at the age of 90 in 1836. We walk through the palace and are entranced by her sunken bath that received flavoured waters of different hues for her ablutions. At the entrance, we imagine her arriving in splendour to hold court up a stairway built for her elephant. We also catch a glimpse of an iron gate that leads under the palace to what was rumored to be once a tunnel that connected the palace all the way to Delhi.
Roaming through the streets of quiet and slow Sardhana, where the Begum still dwells in the memory of people, I was saddened that history textbooks don’t do justice to this extraordinary lady, who was a rare mix of chutzpah, intrigue, fair play and loyalty. Recent years however have seen some books written on the Begum, and filmmaker Tigmanshu Dhulia has also announced his intention to make a film on the Begum’s life. Says he over the phone, “Begum Samru was a great politician and manipulator. There is no woman like her today! She reacted to the times. The problem today is that we just don’t react!”
Indeed if every woman had half the spirit of Samru, the world as women know it, would change for the better!
Wolf of Wall Street Producer Was Jho Low’s Party Planner – HOLLYWOOD EXCLUSIVE!
At Hollywood’s glittering Golden Globe Awards last week two new ‘hotshot producers’ basked in the limelight, as the star of their latest movie took the award for best actor in Wolf of Wall Street.
Riza Aziz and Joey McFarland of Red Granite Pictures enjoyed a special mention of thanks in Leonardo Di Caprio’s acceptance speech for “taking a risk on this movie”, which their company famously bankrolled to the tune of $100million.
“Thank you Joey, Riz and Jho for not only being collaborators but for taking a risk on this movie”, said Di Caprio, as the cameras cut to the two beaming young men, who were sharing a table with the film’s legendary Director, Martin Scorcese.
But many in the audience of Hollywood insiders have been left wondering who exactly are these two newcomers to the business and in particular what production background has Joey McFarland, who runs the company?
Sarawak Report conducted a special assignment in Hollywood last week, unearthing some of the answers.
We can confirm that before Red Granite was launched in Cannes in May 2011 Joey McFarland worked as a party planner and celebrity booking agent for private events.
The agency was called Global Talent Booking; their top celebrity for hire was Paris Hilton and Joey’s main best client was none other than the notorious fun-loving Malaysian ‘billionaire tycoon’, Jho Taek Lho (also referred to above in Di Caprio’s acceptance speech at the Golden Globe Awards).
As one senior Hollywood insider told Sarawak Report:
“I’d never heard of Joey McFarland. He has no part in the business that anyone knows or cares about. The only credit that he had before Red Granite was as Paris Hilton’s side kick”
Key movie credit
The Hollywood establishment has meanwhile picked up on another noteworthy and highly unusual gesture. Jho Low has been singled out for special thanks by Red Granite for Wolf of Wall Street, with a full screen credit all to himself, which features at the end of the $100 million film, straight after the main titles.
Such a form of accolade to an individual behind the scenes is almost unprecedented say those in the industry. The credit does not specify what the thanks are for, but Mr Low’s known specialisms are accessing massive private investment funds and financing hugely expensive parties.
“It is the first credit after the main title credits (which are at the end in this film). This is very unusual, I can’t remember ever seeing something like this.” Another top Hollywood producer told Sarawak Report.
If anyone wanted confirmation of the links between Najib’s stepson’s sudden spending spree in Hollywood and Malaysia’s most controversial businessman this is it.
So, little surprise that Mr Low was present and prominent at all the major premieres for the film, including the latest in Paris, where he featured in the line up next to Leonardo Di Caprio, Director Martin Scorcese and the Red Granite duo.
The connection has already got much of Hollywood whispering and it ought to raise serious questions in Malaysia, where Riza Aziz is a highly politically exposed person as the stepson of the Malaysian Prime Minister since 2009, Najib Razak.
After all, it has been widely reported that Jho Low is a young man whose business dealings have engaged him in close contact with political decision-makers, including Taib Mahmud in Sarawak and Riza’s stepdad, Najib Razak.
This is particularly with respect to the controversial public investment body 1Malaysia Development Bhd, set up by Najib with Jho Low’s help, according to its own website.
Jho Low also claims Riza’s mother Rosmah Mansor as a close friend.
The young man’s incredible profile as a twenty something, who went from nowhere to billionaire status, has also caught widespread media attention, causing astonishment in the US and Malaysia alike.
The Penang born businessman has claimed that his phenomenal financial success was all thanks to wealthy school pals, acquired during his two years attending Harrow in the UK and four years at the Wharton Business School in the US.
In fact, he has claimed that much of the money he has splurged on a constant round of extravagant parties since 2010, in the world’s top venues and nightclubs, has actually been their money not his, describing himself as the “concierge” and party fixer, taking care of his friends and investors, but not the real person footing the bills.
Sarawak Report heard talk of one recent event in Hollywood, where he reportedly bought 80 bottles of Dom Perignon champagne and tipped a whopping $80,000. If so, it would be nothing new.
Jho Low’s legendary partying has also formed the backdrop to the Red Granite production experience, say insiders.
“These guys party all the time. About once a month they go off somewhere like Vegas and party hard with Leo and their friends. Jho Low pays for the private planes and the gambling chips. There’re always crowds of available women”.
The parents of Jho Low’s rich friends, who hark from Malaysia and the Middle East, are also happy to trust him with their investments, according to interviews given by Jho Low, .
This knack of impressing people’s parents soon had him rich enough, it seems, to buy New York’s second most expensive home back in 2010 at the age of 28 (the penthouse in the Trump Tower at $33million).
But, he soon sold it on at a loss, before buying another headline catching apartment at the top of the Time Warner building for $31million in 2012.
This means that Jho Low is either personally now very rich indeed or that, as with the parties, he is also acting as concierge and front man in the purchase of these homes.
The question bears relevance given his now proven close connection to the multi-million dollar business ventures of Najib’s stepson in Hollywood and the wider world is wondering quite how these stories all add up.
Producer or Party Planner?
Riza Aziz is the registered Director of Red Granite Pictures, but associates in the business say that 36 year old Joey McFarland is the man who does the work when it comes to fronting up the company.
Mr McFarland rarely goes into his past career, these same associates told Sarawak Report.
However, the impression gained by reporters is that he went into the investment business after leaving Louisville University in his native Kentucky.
McFarland has been described variously in the press as a “private equity vet” and “private equity cowboyfrom Kentucky”, giving the impression of a wealthy and experienced investor.
However, Sarawak Report can reveal that when McFarland arrived in Hollywood back in 2008 he took up the job of ‘party planner’ in modest circumstances.
He lived till the end of 2013 in a rented three bedroom house in Hollywood, sharing with a friend.
Before that, Mr McFarland had lived in an apartment block Cincinnati.
Insiders have confirmed that in his previous job as a manager at the company Global Talent Booking, his main role was hiring celebrities to attend people’s parties and private events.
Sarawak Report has been told that it was in this capacity that he first met Jho Low, who was busy going about making a public splash, partying with famous faces and running up enormous bills in top nightclubs.
According to our research, Global Talent Booking operates out of a “virtual office” located at 9017, Suite 450 Wilshire Boulevard in Hollywood, which is an answering service located at a Beverly Hills address, designed “to impress your clients”, according to advertisements.
The service is on offer for $240 a month by the host company Allied Offices. And when we rang Global Talent Booking and asked to speak to Mr McFarland we were told he was “away from his desk”, but definitely “in the office” if we wished to leave a message.
Paris Hilton for hire!
Its premises may be virtual but Global Talent Booking promotes an impressive profile through a bespoke online site, claiming to have some of the world’s most famous celebrities on their books, available for hire to appear at private parties and events.
The most promoted of these is the “celebrity it girl”, the fun-loving socialite Paris Hilton, who previously denied that she was being paid by Jho Low to attend any of the lavish parties he funded in New York, Las Vegas, Cannes and St Tropez, where she played the trophy, attention-grabbing guest.
However, research into Mr McFarland’s Twitter messages confirm what Hollywood insiders have told us, which is that Mr McFarland was indeed Paris Hilton’s booker for celebrity events and she was most satisfied with his services.
“I love my friend Joey McFarland” Paris tweeted in December 2009.“Every event he sets up for me is amazing and he is always such a professional at everything he does”
Joey gushingly tweeted back “@Paris Hilton It is an absolute pleasure to have the opportunity to work with the most popular female Celebrity Princess in the world !!!”.
Insiders in this social scene have again informed Sarawak Report that this round of happy parties in New York, the South of France and other hotspots were also habitually attended by Jho Low’s very close friend, Riza Aziz.
Aziz has acknowledged that he threw in the towel on his investment banking career after 3 years as a junior at HSBC in London in 2008, shortly before his stepfather Najib became PM. Making him a man with time on his hands, known to be keen to enter the movie business.
The revelation that Joey McFarland struck up his relationship with Jho Low and Riza Aziz through his role as their party planner and celebrity booker will send waves of consternation through certain quarters in Hollywood.
It will fuel the question that is being increasingly asked, which is how come these Hollywood newcomers, Red Granite Pictures, have managed to raise hundreds of millions of dollars to throw at a several movies, at a time when veterans in the business are struggling to raise finance?
Part of the answer clearly relates to Jho Low and the Malaysian connection. Raising the issue of who would choose to invest hundreds of millions in a production company owned by the son of Rosmah Mansor and run by a party planner, neither of whom have had previous experience in making movies?
[Sarawak Report has uncovered more exclusive information on the Red Granite Pictures story – so watch this space].