The NGO says the late chief minister, a man of principle who was happiest when mingling with ordinary folk, has left a void in the landscape of Sarawak that will not be easily filled.
KUCHING: Sarawak4Sarawakians chairman Peter John Jaban will remember Adenan Satem for his human side as well as for giving hope to the people “within a broken system”.
“This was a man who seemed happiest eating Sarawak laksa in his local coffee shop,” said Jaban in an email. “He was happiest fishing in Santubong and singing karaoke in rural Sarawak.”
Adenan, the late chief minister, was happiest speaking in Iban and the local version of Malay, he said. Adenan died yesterday afternoon of a heart attack.
Away from the man in the street image, Jaban said, the Sarawakian leader was a man of principle. “He called a spade a spade,” said Jaban. “He did not hesitate to refer to a policy as ‘bodoh’ (stupid).”
He did not wish to be called by his many titles — “just call me Adenan” — and did not stand on ceremony, pointed out the S4S chief. “He could speak to any crowd in their language, whether at a corruption conference or at a rural gathering.”
Even when Adenan’s decisions were criticised, the hope remained, recalled Jaban. “We continued to believe deep down that Adenan had a plan.”
The plan was about what he wanted to achieve, how he would achieve it and that it would be for the benefit of the people.
Sometimes, said Jaban, the greatest aspects of democracy could exist within a broken system. “Adenan Satem embodied that.”
He believes that Adenan has left a void in the landscape of Sarawak that will not be easily filled. “In a Malaysia where we are disappointed by elected representatives, Adenan gave Sarawakians hope,” Jaban agreed. “The hope was an ideal.”
It goes beyond a simple list of what grabbed media attention viz. stopping logging concessions, bringing back the English language, and the struggle to regain the autonomy of Sarawak.
“He gave us reason to hope for a leadership which genuinely believed in public service,” said Jaban. “We have come to hope for a leadership which would put the needs of the state above their own.”
Adenan raised hopes for a leader who would not enrich the few while impoverishing the many. “The hope was for a leader who expected integrity and believed in an end to corruption,” said Jaban.
Above all, the hope was for a leader who listened to what the people wanted. “This hope was for a leader who would fight for our rights, not simply take the easy option or make a deal for himself,” he said.