PETALING JAYA: Former deputy chief minister Daniel Tajem, widely regarded as a respected “elder” in Sarawak politics, died today at the age of 82.
The Borneo Post reported that the former diplomat breathed his last early this morning at his residence at Jalan Urat Mata in Kuching.
Tajem was born on March 15, 1936 in Sungai Tanju, Kuching. He leaves three children and seven grandchildren.
Tajem was the first Iban to become a lawyer after he completed his LLB degree at Victoria University, New Zealand. He embarked on a career in politics in 1973 when he joined the Sarawak National Party (SNAP).
In 1983, Tajem was expelled from SNAP while he was Sarawak deputy chief minister, leading to him and Leo Moggie forming the Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS).
He later succeeded Moggie as president of PBDS.
Some years after PBDS was dissolved in 2004, Tajem became SNAP’s advisor and had reportedly urged all Dayaks, especially the ex-PBDS members, to join SNAP as it underwent a rebranding exercise.
However, SNAP was also dissolved in 2013.
Tajem was also Batang Lupar MP for a term from 1986 to 1990, and served as Malaysia’s high commissioner to New Zealand from 1996 to 2000.