SARAWAK FOCUS: Some 20 years ago, Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Taib Mahmud publicly named three people he said he was grooming to succeed him as chief minister one day.
The trio are State Housing and Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg, State Special Function Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem and former federal minister Datuk Effendi Norwawi.
Today, two of the three are still in the running for the coveted post in Sarawak and barring any shocker, Taib is expected to name either Adenan Satem or Abang Jo, as he is popularly known, as his successor within the next 24 hours.
Effendi, better known for his corporate forays than any display of political brilliance, has ruled himself out as he is not a member of the Sarawak Legislative Assembly.
Both Adenan and Abang Jo are equally experienced and suitable candidates to be Sarawak’s fifth chief minister. They have been in politics for more than three decades.
Adenan, 68, and Abang Jo, 64, are Kuching Malays and this will be the first time in Sarawak’s history that a Malay will serve as chief minister if one of them is chosen. Taib is a Melanau and so is his predecessor and uncle, Tun Abdul Rahman Yakub. The first two chief ministers, the late Tan Sri Stephen Kalong Ningkan and Datuk Tawi Sli were Ibans.
Adenan has quite an outstanding and chequered political career all rolled in one, having served in both the Sarawak and federal cabinets. Interestingly, his first job as a young man was working in the Sarawak Tribune as a reporter before taking up law.
Adenan also served as the Minister for Natural Resources and Environment at federal level for a term before returning to Sarawak in 2006 to contest the state election and purportedly to stake a claim for the chief minister’s post.
Unfortunately, Taib was not yet ready to retire as CM in 2006 and this started the bad blood between the two men who were once brothers-in-law. Adenan’s former wife is Taib’s sister.