We Are All’Adenan Satem’

In Memoriam: Pehin Sri Adenan Satem (1944 � 2017)

I AM Adenan Satem, I keep my promises.

It has been a year since the passing of former chief minister Pehin Sri Adenan Satem, but those reassuring and authoritative words of his still ring loud and clear in the hearts and minds of many Sarawakians.

There is something in his name and substance in his words said to the thunderous applause of thousands.

On the first anniversary of his untimely demise, it is most fitting to take a walk down memory lane with some of great quotes of this towering statesman.

For many, it is his steadfast astuteness and unwavering courage and fortitude in fighting for Sarawak’s autonomy that they are held in awe of.

Admirably, on this issue that is close to the hearts of the people from Land of the Hornbills, he had made his stance unequivocally clear and firm:

I have made it very clear that there is no talk of cessation from the Federation. We don’t want to leave Malaysia Malaysia will be forever. But that doesn’t mean we cannot fight for our autonomy which had been agreed upon under the Malaysia Agreement, the Inter-Governmental Committee reports and recommendations, the Cobbold Commission and the Malaysia Act.

We want these rights which we had way back in 1963 to revert to us. Because over these years, there have been an erosion of state rights as far as Sarawak is concerned.

For instance, we are not a state within Malaysia � we are a party to the formation of Malaysia. The Malaysia Agreement which constitutes Malaysia was signed by the United Kingdom, the Federation of Malaya, North Borneo, Singapore and Sarawak.

So if you want to deprive some states of their rights under the Malaysia Agreement, then even a constitutional amendment is not enough because that is an international treaty between sovereign states. But the talk of cessation is just rubbish.

For many, it is his spirit of defending the rights of all Sarawakians, regardless of race and religion � that is upheld as inviolate. In short, he had rekindled the Sarawakian dream:

You can use ‘Allah’ any time you want. No problem. Just use it with respect. I will not tell you how to practise your religion. I am a Muslim and I try to be a good one. But I will not tell my Christian friends how to worship.

It is their business.

There has been a shift back in support to the BN (Barisan Nasional), I notice, because of my policies regarding the Chinese � one is that they are not ‘pendatang’ (immigrants) while the others are recognition of the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC), admission of Chinese graduates into state civil service and Yayasan Sarawak (Sarawak Foundation) and so on.

All Sarawakians remember his wits and humour and how he used the word ‘stupid’ to describe the policy on education:

When I say the word ‘stupid’, I’m referring to the policy, not the people who make the policy. And because the consequences of the policy, all this flip-flop about the education policy, downgrading of English (language) and so on, now we are at a disadvantage but it’s not too late. I want us to be, I want Malaysians to be proficient in their mother tongue and Bahasa Malaysia � you know our national language, and in English, you know the international language.

Yet to many, he is the just and fearless chief minister who fought corruption.

We can never wipe out corruption altogether. Humans being what they are, you can never wipe it out altogether. But you ought to try the best way you can and create a system where it is really difficult to be dishonest.

A journalist from The Borneo Post recalled:

I was at the 16th International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC) in September 2015 where Adenan was the distinguished speaker.

I had expected to be at the conference with head hanging low in the face of the 1MDB scandal but because of the name Adenan, I held my chin up � like a Sarawakian.

Adenan rose to the occasion, like he always did, to field questions from Patrick Alley, co-founder and director of Global Witness, on thorny issues in the timber and plantation sectors of Sarawak under the previous administration.

The former chief minister pulled no punches when he declared his stance on transparency and eradication of graft � with particular reference to the logging industry.

And in his usual ‘you-get-what-you-see’ mien, he declared:

I am fighting corruption the way I know because we want to get rid of this curse, especially in the timber industry. I want to stop the rape of our forests.

I want to put a stop to the deterioration of our environment because this, somewhat, relates to corruption. The first step I took was no more timber concession � no more, enough is enough.

He had challenged the media to expose injustices and assured them of his support.

Keep exposing injustices practised in our society. Once people read it in the newspapers, they will realise how unjust some people could be, and also (it could be) a reflection of themselves for doing nothing.

Adenan spoke with authority and his familiar ‘don’t mess with me’ was among the list of ‘It’s the Adenan Way’ words.

How have we all fared over the year in fulfilling the momentous legacies of the man?

Is there any reason for those who love Sarawak not to honour the bequest of statehood left by this colossus of a state leader � whether in upholding integrity and good governance, exposing injustices, restoring the autonomous rights of Sarawak and fighting for the State as an equal partner within Malaysia under Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), calling for equitable distribution of oil and gas royalty, reinforcing English education and relieving the burden of the people, regardless of race and religion?

None indeed.

The man also had an unmistakable and endearing light side, often shielded from public by the veil of a no-nonsense countenance, which came to the fore when he broached and tackled issues that mattered most to Sarawakians with his ‘cut-to-the-chase’ style.

However, when that boyish sparkle emerged from behind the often-serious facade of high office, the contagion was overpowering.

Who could ever forget his jocund signature ‘Oha-you-you’ salutation? The man had � in his own words � taken ‘Oha’ to mean ‘I Love Sarawak’ and ‘you-you’, a ‘date with you’.

Yes, Adenan loved Sarawak and he ‘had made a date’ with us (Sarawakians) to perpetuate the profound love we have for ‘This Fairland of Ours’.

It is a date that we all should and must cherish to keep his ‘Sarawakians First’ legacy alive for all posterity.

‘Oha you-you!’

We love and miss you, Adenan.

Source: The Borneo Post