Adenan’s short tenure had probably won the Sarawak government more support than his predecessors could ever have.
PETALING JAYA: Politicians from both sides of the divide have mourned the death of Adenan Satem, the Sarawak chief minister whose short tenure was marked by the state’s push for greater economic and political autonomy.
Among many of his measures include his announcement in 2015 to make English the other official language in the state alongside Bahasa Malaysia.
He said this was to prepare Sarawakians for future challenges in a world that is heavily dependent on English.
The decision was met with criticisms from all sides, many even questioning his patriotism.
This was his response: “Whether they agree with me in the Semenanjung (peninsula) or not, I don’t care.”
Last year, during his Chinese New Year speech, he bluntly told off those who called Malaysians of Chinese origin as “pendatang” (immigrant), saying there is no such term as far as the people of Sarawak was concerned.
“We cannot have divide-and-rule tactics … Sarawak is for everybody and Sarawak is big enough for everybody,” said Adenan.
This was Adenan’s message to all Sarawakians: “You call Sarawak your home, and indeed this is your home, just like those from many other races.”
He went a step further, when he instructed to do away with the word “lain-lain” (others) on the race column of government official forms, a move later approved by the Cabinet.
On New Year of 2016, he fulfilled his promise to make Sarawak roads toll-free.
Adenan also weighed in the “Allah” controversy, by saying there was nothing wrong with the use of the word by Christians in the state.
“You can use ‘Allah’ any time you want. No problem. Just use it with respect.”
But it was his announcement in 2015 to recognise the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC) and his consistent large allocations to Chinese independent schools, that almost sealed Chinese support for Adenan despite representing the same coalition that has been struggling for the community’s support in West Malaysia.
Adenan might not have ruled for decades, but his short tenure would have probably won the Sarawak government more support than his predecessors could ever have.
“I am Adenan Satem, and I keep my promises.” How true.
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