KUCHING – Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg said he was never interested in the Sarawak Chief Minister’s position because from the beginning of his political involvement he only wanted to serve the people.
Recalling the time when he first entered politics in the early 1980s, Abang Johari said he had turned down a request from the then Chief Minister, Tun Abdul Rahman Ya’kub to contest in the state election.
After much persuasion, he was given one day to think over the matter but the next day, his mother told him that Tun Abdul Rahman had telephoned and requested that he (Abang Johari) stand for the state election.
“My mother told me not to go against the elders,” he said in a special session with the media in conjunction with his 100 days as the Chief Minister in a hotel here yesterday.
Abang Johari, 66, is the youngest child of the first Yang di-Pertuan Negeri of Sarawak Tun Abang Openg Abang Sapiee.
Abang Johari, who is also Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) president was sworn in as the sixth Chief Minister of Sarawak on Jan 13 to replace Tan Sri Adenan Satem who died on Jan 11.
Abang Johari said during the Sarawak political upheaval in 1987, he could have resigned from his post if he was going after the position but he decided to stay on with the state government to this very day because he had always wanted to serve the people.
According to him throughout his service with the Sarawak state government, there was never any fight for the position.
He added that everyone including the media were aware when the fourth Sarawak Chief Minister Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud (now the Yang Dipertua Negeri of Sarawak) was asked to name his successor, various issues were raised, including instigations here and there.
“I had said ‘no’ (when I was proposed as chief minister). I said, wait when the time comes, if God wants it to be so …then only will I become the chief minister. What is there to fight over?
“The late Tok Nan (Adenan) wanted to govern the state for five years, but after the state election he only administered the state for eight months (because he died), ” he said. Abang Johari said he often referred the current Sarawak cabinet as “Team Tok Nan” because the mandate was given to the late Adenan.
“The ‘captain’ has changed but the team remains the same, ” he said.
On Jan 19, Abang Johari decided to maintain the state cabinet, which was formed by the late Adenan, without making any changes.
Asked about the possibility of a Cabinet reshuffle to make it ‘Team Abang Johari’ he replied: “Lets wait, right now there is no inclination.”