The late Sarawak Chief Minister Adenan Satem will always be remembered as a great leader who walked the walk.
PETALING JAYA: Tributes to the late Adenan Satem have been pouring in all afternoon, with many fondly recalling his achievements in the short time he led the state as Sarawak Chief Minister.
His “own man”, Adenan was one who took no orders from others but said and did as he, and he alone, saw fit.
“I am Adenan Satem. I am not ‘White Hair’ (former Sarawak chief minister Taib Mahmud).
“I am my own man. He doesn’t tell me what to do.”
Adenan occupied the chief minister seat for less than three years but proved in that short span of time that he was an independent, thinking and compassionate leader, who listened to the voices of his people, the Sarawakians who put their faith in him.
Although his views and policies were often in direct conflict with those of the federal government, Adenan’s gentle but firm leadership helped Sarawakians feel comfortable in their skin, giving them the confidence to pursue their rights as Malaysians, regardless of race or religion.
Under his watch, Sarawak emerged as the only state in Malaysia to recognise the United Examination Certificate (UEC) issued by Chinese schools, thus paving the way for UEC holders to enter the state’s civil service.
“I am Adenan Satem, I am in favour of government assistance to Chinese schools.
“I am Adenan Satem, I am in favour of recognising UEC.
“I am Adenan Satem, and I don’t want the Chinese to be called ‘pendatang’ (immigrants) in Sarawak. You are citizens of Malaysia, and anak Sarawak, like everybody else.”
These were among his most famous words that touched the hearts and minds of hundreds of thousands of Sarawakians, not because they were pleasant to hear, but because they were followed by affirmative action.
“I am Adenan Satem, I refuse to have a government where there is no Chinese in that government.”
He proved this by making former UPP president Wong Soon Koh, Sarawak’s second finance minister and SUPP president Sim Kui Han, the state’s local government minister.
Adenan spent much of his time following his landslide victory in the Sarawak election last May, pushing for greater autonomy as spelt out in the Malaysia Agreement 1963.
This was just one of many countless other examples of how the 72-year-old made it his mission to repay the massive support shown to him by all Sarawakians, even the Chinese who were once staunch supporters of the opposition.
“I am Adenan Satem, give me a big mandate so I can speak up to Kuala Lumpur (federal government).
“You listen to me. I represent Sarawak.
“I am Adenan Satem, and I keep my promises.”
Adenan, as leaders nationwide all agree, will be remembered as a great leader who walked the talk.