NEWS on the passing of Pehin Sri Adenan Satem last year shook Sarawakians across all ages, as well as racial and religious backgrounds.
To them, Tok Nan – as he was fondly known – was a remarkable and inspiring leader whom they would remember always.
Chinese community leader Temenggong Datuk Vincent Lau describes Tok Nan as an outstanding figure who possessed high values that people should emulate and be inspired by.
“He was close enough to the people, but far enough to motivate them. He cared and looked after the rights and interests of not only one community, but all communities – big and small, in our multiracial and multireligion state,” he told The Borneo Post when contacted yesterday.
On the significant contribution to Chinese education, Lau pointed out that Adenan was obviously a farsighted man who saw and realised the importance of Chinese education to nurture more great talents in Sarawak.
“His sense of urgency showed that he was a man who produced, achieved and delivered real results. Hence, there were allocations for Chinese schools, which have increased year after year.
“I really admire him for being bold, wise, and righteous, and for serving the people of our diverse communities with high commitment. He made sure that we would benefit from all kinds of privileges.”
Lau emphasised that Sarawak needs more leaders like Adenan – one who could unify the people and inspire them to work towards a shared goal, which is towards a more prosperous future for Sarawak.
“All of us should strive to emulate Tok Nan’s values and characters. I am grateful and appreciative of his powerful presence, leadership and guidance, even if was only for two short years.
“He had paved the way for us and I hope that continuing his legacy would help the people and Sarawak walk further and towards a brighter future. It is our capable leaders who will bring progress to our state and its people,” he said.
Lau also reminded that it was crucial to have a unified Sarawak, where all ethnic groups become closely-knit, because this would bring the stability necessary for greater development in Sarawak.
In his words, Federation of Chinese Associations of Kuching, Samarahan and Serian Divisions president Dato Richard Wee observed that Sarawakians were still feeling the loss of this visionary leader.
“But his enormous contributions, through various policies introduced and implemented during his tenure as chief minister, have benefitted till today.
“He had laid the foundation stone for Sarawak’s policies, which are being continued and fine-tuned by our current Chief Minister (Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg),” he said.
Among these policies are the abolishment of tolls, reduction and waiver of quit rent, financial assistance to both Chinese independent schools and also mission schools, instillation of duties and responsibilities of a commuted civil service, propagation of cultural and religious harmony as well as condemnation of all forms of bigotry and racial, religious and cultural extremism promoted by politicians from Peninsular Malaysia.
“But most importantly, he gave all Sarawakians that sense of belonging and pride of being a Sarawakian – embracing racial, religious and cultural acceptance as part of our heritage.
“We are pleased to see that such policies laid down by him (Adenan) have become our strong foundation, fully embraced by our Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari, in making us Sarawakians different from the rest, and that Sarawak has become the envy of many other Malaysians,” he added.
Wee, who is also Chung Hua Middle Schools (CHMS) No 1, 3 and 4 Board of Management chairman, reminisced the ‘good old time’ he had with Adenan.
“Tok Nan would always be remembered for his wit and bold humour.
“I recall a time when he joked about both Temenggong Lau and myself being very greedy, by using a Malay proverb ‘diberi betis hendak paha’ (roughly translated as wanting more, despite having been given some).
“This was when Tok Nan agreed to the request from Temenggong Lau and I for financial assistance meant for the Chinese independent schools in the first year – in the second year, we requested for an increase in the grants during a Chinese New Year gathering held at MBKS (Kuching South City Council).
“But he (Adenan) proceeded to approving the request,” he added.