Sarawak ‘mourns’ with hope

c_pc0019191There is something in his name.

“I am Adenan Satem, and I keep my promises. I am Adenan Satem and I’m in favour of giving assistance to Chinese schools.

“I am Adenan Satem and I’m in favour of recognising UEC (Unified Examination Certificate). I am Adenan Satem and I do not want the Chinese in Sarawak to be called pendatang.

“My name is Adenan Satem, I am in favour of reducing electricity tariffs for Sarawakians,” the Man Of The Hour said to the thunderous applause of thousands at Kuching City Mall on May 1 last year.

On many occasions, the towering statesman – whether for up close and personal interviews or at ceremahs or international events – loved to say: “I am Adenan Satem, call me Adenan Satem or Adenan or just CM.”

I was at the 16th International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC) in September 2015 where Adenan was a distinguished speaker. While the MC was struggling to pronounce his name, he came to the rescue by putting it simply: “It is not that difficult, just call me Adenan.”

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, being a Sarawakian, as Adenan rose to the

occasion to field questions from Patrick Alley, the co-founder and director of Global Witness, on the thorny practices in the timber and plantation sectors of Sarawak under the previous administration.

Adenan pulled no punches when he stated his stance on transparency and eradication of graft (with particular reference to the logging industry) at the Conference.

In his usual “you-get-what-you-see” demenour, 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 stop I took was no more timber concession, no more, enough is enough.”

Adenan spoke with authority in London where many preachy NGOs must have been caught off-guard by his repartee: “If you agenda is truly conservation and sustainable management of our forests, if that, indeed, is your agenda, we are prepared to work with you. If your agenda is something else, I am sorry I can’t work with you in good faith.

“If that (conservation) is, indeed, your agenda, you are welcome to work with us and we are happy to do so. You are not the only experts in this field – there are some other experts among you also.”

Adenan is the name that

has been internationally recognised for the indefatigable efforts the straight-talking Chief Minister had put in to overhaul the messy state deforestation in Sarawak.

He is Adenan. In his almost three years at the helm of Fairland Sarawak, we have learnt much from him, including, I believe, many of our leaders who should now step up to the plate and follow through on his legacy – upholding integrity and good governance and restoring the rights of Sarawak under MA63.

I have lost count of how many times I have been touched and inspired by Adenan’s “Sarawak First” motto in the course my course of work. By the same token, I have felt immeasurably blessed by his sincerity and courage in leading the fight for devolution of automonous powers to the State.

But I believe one of his

best gifts to Sarawakians is inspiring hope and vision and inculcating a true sense of purpose in the Young Ones. Indeed, through the emulable example of his fine leadership, he had replicated many “Adenans” among a vast cross section of Anaks Sarawak.

I am sharing this note written by a young journalist who just realised Adenan’s son was her college mate in Australia. It is beautifully written from the heart: It’s been such a long time since we’ve had any contact. I hope you have been well so far and I apologise for not keeping in contact. Truthfully, the reason why I am contacting you now is because I have just realised who your father is.

I have never made the connection before because you were always humble with your background and while this does not affect any circumstances, I am glad that you are Adenan Satem’s son because now I have chance to thank you for supporting the man whom we hail as our most beloved CM – a man who continually surprised the whole of Sarawak with his vision for us and his resilience against adversity.

While he was taken from this earth too early, the things that he had done so far for Sarawak are more than we could ever ask for in this short period of three years.

Your father continually surpassed our expectations, his pursuit of autonomy and fairness inspired patriotism in many of us, something unheard of for many Malaysians.

His fight for development has led many of us to understand our worth and that we deserve to be treated equally.

His fight for equality has unified this State and uplifted many indigenous races to once again be proud of their heritage.

His fight for our environment and against corruption has inspired us to question our own morals and strive for a better society.

His fight for economic and rural development has left many of us better off and hopeful of a brighter future.

While I have never been very observant of politics, your father’s actions changed all that. He motivated me to keep updated with the changes in our State and he made me proud to call myself a Sarawakian.

The very last time I saw your father was at the recent DUN sitting as he tabled the proposed State Budget for this year. During the event, there was a moment where you father stopped and coughed for an extended period and everyone in the media room went deadly silent.

I would like you to know that momentarily, there was panic amongst all the journalists amidst concerned whispers of “Where is his doctors? Abang Jo should take over and let him rest. He doesn’t need to read the whole thing. Please, no.”

Your father’s coughing stirred an entire room, no, an entire building with so much concern because we all knew that he was the leader whom we have all wished for and wanted desperately to keep.

Adenan Satem was a great man and our whole State will mourn his passing. Thank you so much for being a part of his life, supporting and motivating him for the past 26 years.

I’m sorry if this is a bit much but I genuinely do feel this way and I hope it will bring some solace to you.

This is a personal note. But in it, we see Adenan has given hope and pride to Sarawakians and an awakening in our younger generation of who they are, what they can become and what to hope for.

So, wipe our tears and carry on the momentous legacies that Adenan has left us with.

We are all Adenan Satem.

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