The Late Adenan Satem Would Have Made a Brilliant Prime Minister

The remains of Tan Sri Adenan Satem being laid to rest at the Samarian Muslim Cemetery on Thursday.
The remains of Tan Sri Adenan Satem being laid to rest at the Samarian Muslim Cemetery on Thursday.

wall-fly

COMMENT: We have lost a great man.

Those who were aware of his medical condition would have expected it anytime, still, when it came, everybody was in a state of shock.

The late Adenan Satem, the fifth Chief Minister of Sarawak was a much loved man for his strategic intellect and inclusiveness.

It was not since Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra, the founding father of Malaysia, that we had a politician who transcended race and religion.

While his powers were confined to Sarawak, his influence was pan Malaysia. He was also described as the ‘Voice of Borneo’ by this news portal.

In a short space of time, he achieved plenty for Sarawak like fighting corruption and the illegal loggers and also making English as a second official language in Sarawak for example.

Things which are good for the country, and that are conveniently ignored by the powers that be, Adenan walked the talk.

Adenan Satem
Adenan Satem

Most of all he was admired and loved for his fight for Sarawak’s autonomy as agreed in the Malaysia Agreement 63(MA63). At the same time, staying committed to the concept of Malaysia.

This inspired the people in the two Borneo States. It gave them dignity, pride and hope for a better tomorrow.

Adenan celebrated our differences and not merely tolerating them. Which Muslim leader would quote Biblical passages to his mainly Christian audience? He was comfortable doing that because he had attended mission schools, and very much at home in a multi-cultural setting that our country is.

He was an example of a member of that generation that was schooled differently that is slowly disappearing.

Under different circumstances, he would have made a brilliant Prime Minister for the country.

He did it his way and brought dignity to his office. It would be a tough act to follow as he had set a benchmark. Malaysians would expect nothing less now.

A true statesman.

A true son of Sarawak.

A patriot Malaysian.

Go into the good night, Sir, your job is done.

Rest in Peace. Al Fatihah.

THERE MIGHT BE SURPRISES IN STORE FOR US ALL YET

It is going to be an interesting year for Dr. Maximus Ongkili.

Uncle. Cousin, Or Nephew. Both Pairin, left and Maximus are related by blood. Last week, Pairin handed over the reins of PBS to Maximus, thus ending one of the longest reigns as party president in Sabah.
Uncle. Cousin, Or Nephew. Both Pairin, left and Maximus are related by blood. Last week, Pairin handed over the reins of PBS to Maximus, thus ending one of the longest reigns as party president in Sabah.

After 23 years of waiting he is now finally succeeding Joseph Pairin Kitingan as the head honcho of PBS, the oldest political party in Sabah. (PBS, if you still do not know is Parti Bersatu Sabah that ruled the state from 1985 – 1994)

Pairin, who formed PBS after getting the boot from Berjaya, has finally passed the baton to him, though he said he would be around to advise Max in the coming elections expected to be held sometime this year.

Max had stayed loyal despite a spate of defections that saw PBS state government fall to UMNO-led Sabah Barisan Nasional (BN) in 1994. PBS however returned to BN in 2002 with Pairin becoming the deputy Chief Minister until now.

We can call it a payback time for Max, but it is going to be a rough road fraught with uncertainties though, a far cry from PBS’ heyday when they unexpectedly toppled Berjaya under Harris Salleh in 1985.

Credit must be given to Pairin, despite the problems he had to face from many parties and political foes as Chief Minister, he prevailed for nine years.

However, with that kind of success, many also blamed him for not respecting the ‘loosely-formed’ PBS-USNO pact (in 1985) which (eventually) paved the way for the entry of UMNO into the state and which has changed the local political culture completely ever since.

For over two decades, Maximus was just a follower, now he has become leader of one of Sabah's oldest party. There is a clamour for change in the air, whether this is realistic or not.
For over two decades, Maximus was just a follower, now he has become leader of one of Sabah’s oldest party. There is a clamour for change in the air, whether this is realistic or not.

Pairin was also given the responsibility to come up with a technical report on the Royal Commission of Inquiry on illegal immigrants ,the deadlines have long gone, we have yet to hear anything from him.

While there might be blots on his long political career, he did bring pride back to his native community ever since UPKO was dissolved in 1967 and members were encouraged to join the late Tun Mustapha’s USNO en masse.

Yes, it is going to be a mammoth task for Max, he himself admitted it. Is he up to it? He definitely has big shoes to fill.

Given the current mood on the ground in the community especially with a new generation who have different expectations, Max has got the job cut out for him.

Too often, they see too many broken promises which leave them angry and frustrated.

With the role of social media contributing to the rising trust deficit of the politicians, it looks like an arduous task.

Can Max bring them on board? There is a clamour for change in the air, whether this is realistic or not, it does not matter, politics after all is about perceptions.

Based on the current mood, PBS can either stay with BN and pay the price or it can opt out and team up with a local party and get on the ‘Sabah for Sabahans’ bandwagon, then, maybe it has a chance.

Then again, nothing is guaranteed in life especially in politics. A week in politics is a long time.

Max might have latent abilities we are not aware of because he has been away working from the state for so long. Now, that he has been given the opportunity to lead, there might be surprises in store for us all.

However, he must read the signs astutely and respond appropriately. It might not be too long a road because elections are expected soon.

But, definitely a winding one for him!

  • Fly on the Wall is a weekly Sunday column. Our intrepid guest columnist would like BorneoToday readers to comment on his arguments, whether your agree or not, with him. You can address them to [email protected]. We will publish your comments unless you say no.