KUCHING: With 2015 coming to a close, the people in Sarawak continue their eager wait to return to the ballot box in choosing their representatives to lead the state.
From the political aspect in Sarawak throughout 2015, a lot of things revolved around the plans, decisions and strategies of Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem in bringing a new style of leadership in his own way, after replacing Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud who had helmed the state for over 30 years.
The year also saw the unending crisis in the Barisan Nasional (BN) component, Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP), which had resulted in a split with the formation of the splinter group, United People’s Party (UPP).
A similar situation occurred in another BN component, Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP), which saw the setting up of Parti Tenaga Rakyat Sarawak (Teras) by the breakaway faction.
At a press conference recently, Adenan said if there was no compromise between the parties involved, he himself would make the final decision on the distribution of seats before the state election.
The term of the current Sarawak State Legislative Assembly will end in June 2016.
The notable political developments in the state in 2015 were the two controversial gatherings, namely the ‘722 Sarawak Freedom and Independence Day Walk’ at Padang Jubilee on July 22 and the Kuching Bersih 4 rally at the Song Kheng Hai field on Aug 29.
The walk organised by the Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (Sadia) and Sarawak for Sarawak (S4S) group, was reportedly organised to commemorate Sarawak gaining independence from British colonial rule on July 22, 1963.
Political analysts watched with interest how Adenan carefully tackled the two events so that public support for BN would not be affected by the issue, especially with the state election drawing near.
Generally, people were satisfied with Adenan’s wisdom in strategising over the issue, when both gatherings were allowed and there were no fracas, mass arrests and no hard condemnation against the state government.
Adenan’s leadership quality became even more evident when he faced a group of activists and fierce critics of the state government when they came to see him uninvited at a function hosted by the Malaysian High Commission in London.
Among them were Bruno Manser Fund executive director Lukas Strauman and secession activist Doris Jones, who is wanted by the Malaysian police.
In early September, Adenan once again drew admiration and praise from the people in Sarawak not only with his attendance at the International Anti-Corruption Conference in Putrajaya, but also by eloquently and bravely defending Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud against the allegation by UK-based Global Witness, of corruption when the latter was chief minister.
Adenan also stated his willingness to cooperate with non-governmental organisations in ensuring a free and clean state election, on the condition that they would act neutral.
In Sarawak, DAP sees that support for the Chief Minister is difficult to erode, so it has instead made Najib its punching bag and political capital in trying to get the people to reject the state BN leadership.
There has been the slogan of ‘one vote for Sarawak BN is one vote for Najib and UMNO’ being thrown around to undermine the national leadership and to drag the people into questioning the credibility of Sarawak BN.
At the recent state assembly sitting, however, Adenan coolly replied that the state election was about choosing the state leadership, and as long as he lived he did not want outside political parties to spread their wings to Sarawak, and they included DAP, PKR and even PAS.
“This is because only a Sarawak party would know the situation in Sarawak,” he had said.
Adenan has also made some firm decisions which are seen as contrary to the federal government’s policies, such as the acceptance of the Unified Examination Certificate for government scholarships and service in the state government, and use of the English language in official state government documents.
His strong championing of Sarawak’s interests has also been evident when he stood firm that the autonomy in a number sectors should be returned or delegated to the state government, and for the oil royalty for Sarawak be increased from five per cent to 20 per cent.
By the end of 2015, Adenan is like a hero to the people of Sarawak after he recently announced the end of toll collection at Tun Salahuddin Bridge in Kuching from midnight, Dec 31, hence no more toll collection in Sarawak.
With the latest good news, the people in this “Land of the Hornbills” will step proudly into 2016.– BERNAMA