State has progressed tremendously, says former CM


MEETING OF OLD FRIENDS: Abdul Rahman (right) welcomes Salahuddin to his house.

KUCHING: The state has progressed ‘tremendously’ since it became part of Malaysia 50 years ago, says former Chief Minister and Head of State Tun Datuk Patinggi Abdul Rahman Ya’kub.

Abdul Rahman, 85, who was the state’s third chief minister from 1970 to 1981 and the fourth Head of State from 1981 to 1985 said the federal government have been very kind to the state.

“Kuala Lumpur is very kind to us and they asked me to be one of the ministers in Kuala Lumpur and that helped a lot (in the state’s progress),” he said when met by reporters at his residence, in conjunction with a Hari Raya visit from his old friend, Head of State Tun Datuk Patinggi Abang Muhammad Salahuddin yesterday.

Salahuddin, who was accompanied by his wife Toh Puan Datuk Patinggi Norkiah, spent about half an hour at Abdul Rahman’s house.

In sharing his view on the two former Prime Ministers – the late Tunku Abdul Rahman and Tun Abdul Razak, whom he had the opportunity to work with, Abdul Rahman described both of them as “very kind hearted men”.

Abdul Rahman said under Tunku Abdul Rahman’s tenure, he was appointed the Minister of Religious Affairs, Minister of Lands and Mines as well as other portfolios in other ministries.

The octogenarian was sent back to the state to quell the communist insurgency in the early1970’s.

He is credited for initiating the 1974 Sri Aman Operation, which led to the surrender of 482 communist terrorists following a peace treaty.

The communist insurgents were led by former Parti Kalimantan Utara (PKU) leader Bong Kee Chok.

Relating events that led to the peace treaty, which was signed 39 years ago in Sri Aman, then known as Simanggang, Abdul Rahman said the government granted amnesty to Bong and his men, who also agreed to be rehabilitated back into society.

“Bong Kee Chok was a friend of mine and when I came back from Kuala Lumpur, I called his brother, asking him to convey the government’s intention to meet and discuss the matter, as well as the assurance that he (Kee Chok) will not be sent to prison,” he recalled.

Abdul Rahman said although there were calls for him to go back to Kuala Lumpur after that, he declined as he wanted to deal with the problems in Sarawak.