Friday, December 3

Revisiting 48 years of leadership


Tan Sri Datuk Amar Stephen Kalong Ningkan (1963-1966)

TAN Sri Datuk Amar Stephen Kalong Ningkan, secretary general of the Sarawak Alliance was appointed to be the first Chief Minister of Sarawak on July 21 1963 by then Governor, Sir Alexander Waddell, who said he was satisfied that Ningkan was “likely to command the confidence of the majority of the members of the Council Negri.”

Born in Betong on Aug 20 1920, Ningkan was educated at St.

Augustine’s school. He worked as a dresser in the Brunei Shell Company hospital at Kuala Belait for a number of years.

He was the chairman of the Shell Dayak Club and founder president of the Dayak Association from 1958 to 1960.

He later returned to Betong and formed the Sarawak National Party (SNAP) in 1961.

Although he was not initially a strong supporter of Tunku Abdul Rahman’s proposal of a Malaysian federation, he soon became its biggest advocate when he realised the benefits of the proposed Federation.

In the 1962 election, SNAP won many seats earning him the right to be Sarawak’s first Chief Minister.

In October 1962 he would play an important role in forming Perikatan Sarawak (Sarawak Alliance), a precursor to BN Sarawak.

He was noted for his strong anti-communist stand and his determination to see that the Dayak people were given every encouragement and chance to progress and advance. Internal party conflicts, the proposal of certain land reform bills, his opposition on several major national policies like implementing the National Language and Education Policy, would disrupt his service as chief minister, finally ending his term prematurely when the federal government called a state of emergency in September 1966.

Datuk Penghulu Tawi Sli (1966–1970)

The late Governor Tun Abang Haji Openg appointed Datuk Penghulu Tawi Sli Tini upon the advice of the Prime Minister on June 16 1966 where he served for a brief three months before Ningkan resumed his post on Sept 7 1966.

The state of emergency called barely a month later on Sept 23 would reinstate Tawi Sli as Chief Minister. Although initially a SNAP member, he later joined Pesaka.

Tawi Sli was born in Banting also in the then Second Division. He came from an Anglican family and had his formal education at St Thomas’ school in Kuching until Form 3.

After he finished school, Tawi Sli became a teacher in a mission school while undergoing training for three years to become a pastor.

He then served as a clerk in a government department before retiring in 1961.

In 1963, Tawi Sli was appointed a Penghulu and started to become active in politics. He became the secretary of SNAP Simanggang.

Tawi Sli was among several candidates for the Chief Minister’s post in 1963. Due to several factors, he joined Pesaka in 1966.

Born in 1912, Tawi Sli was originally a pastor and a government clerk before retiring and entering active politics in 1963, first as a regional secretary of SNAP but later joining Pesaka.

He was appointed Sarawak’s second Chief Minister following the 1966 election, and remained in office until 1970.

Tun Datuk Patinggi Abdul Rahman Yakub (1970-1981)

The third chief minister of Sarawak’s era was marked by fast development and economic progress.

Born in Kampung Jepak in 1928, Abdul Rahman, the son of a fi sherman became the first Bumiputera from Sarawak to graduate as a lawyer in 1958.

Later he served as deputy Lands and Mines Minister and Education Minister before returning to Sarawak to become the Chief Minister in 1970.

Within three years after his appointment as Chief Minister, Abdul Rahman settled the security problem of the state where more than 75 per cent of the communist guerrillas surrendered and were rehabilitated to rejoin society under Operation Sri Aman.

Later he did away with the primary six common entrance examination, enabling all primary six pupils to continue their education to secondary levels.

In addition, he also established the Sarawak foundation to provide scholarships and educational loans to students in need.

He was responsible for setting up several statutory bodies to speed up development in the state across a wide range of fields, including the State Planning Unit. Sarawak’s five administration divisions from the Brooke era were redefi ned into seven to bring about greater administrative efficiency.

A new bridge costing RM6 million was built in May 1975 creating a link between what we recognise today as two administrative divisions – MBKS and DBKU and was named “Jambatan Datuk Patinggi Haji Abdul Rahman Yakub”.

The new State Secretariat and the Dewan Undangan Negeri Building was sited at Petra Jaya, making it the administrative centre of the state.

In 1981, Abdul Rahman resigned his post due to health reasons and was sworn in as the Governor of Sarawak on April 2.

Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud (1981-present)

Abdul Taib Mahmud, born in 1936, is the nephew of Rahman Ya’kub, and current Chief Minister of Sarawak.

From a poor background, Chief Minister Taib studied law at the University of Adelaide, graduating in 1960.

He joined the State Legislative Council of Sarawak in 1963 and was appointed to a number of ministerial positions.

He represented Parti Bumiputera Sarawak (BUMIPUTERA), a component party of the Sarawak Alliance, in the 1969 Malaysian general election.

During the 1970 parliamentary election for Sarawak, Taib was elected as the member of the Malaysian parliament for Kota Samarahan and remains the second longest-serving parliamentarian in Malaysia. In 1973, Taib became the deputy president of the newly formed Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu before becoming the president of the party.

After winning the Sebandi (now Asajaya) by-election in 1981, Taib was appointed as Sarawak’s Land and Mines Minister before succeeding Abdul Rahman as Chief Minister.

Today, he is serving his eighth term as Chief Minister.

He is also the State Financial Minister and Planning Resource Management Minister, President of PBB and Balingian assemblyman.