Who will become the next CM of Sarawak?
THAT’S THE biggest question Sarawakians have been wanting to know the answer to since Sarawak Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud first mentioned that he would retire at a press conference before the state elections in April 2011, and this time at a more serious pace since it was brought up in a national daily two weeks ago.
Being Sarawakian, and naturally curious, led me to the Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) Headquarters on Feb 8 to witness the supreme council meeting, hoping to be part of a historic moment where the announcement of his successor would be made later that day.
I arrived at PBB’s HQ at Petra Jaya as early as 9am, together with other members of the media waiting for the meeting that started at 10am.
This supreme council meeting was seen as a special one since it may be the last meeting chaired by PBB president and state Barisan Nasional chairman Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud. So, the waiting game begins.
Taib arrived at the PBB HQ a little before 10 am accompanied by PBB deputy presidents, Tan Sri Alfred Jabu Numpang and Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg as well as other senior members of the party passing through crowds of media and supporters on their way to the meeting hall.
About 100 PBB youth members from Angkatan Warisan Anak Sarawak (AWAS) had welcomed them carrying banners bearing words of support like “We love Pehin Seri Abdul Taib Mahmud” while yelling out loud “Hidup BN, Hidup Ketua Menteri, Hidup PBB”.
Sarawakians have been living under his administration for over three decades now since 1981 and during his tenure, Sarawak has developed into a level high enough to be proud of. He has also placed the BN and PBB as premier parties in Sarawak.
Local BN parties include Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS), Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) and Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP).
Referring to his retirement, Taib said that he would need to go through a few more steps before retiring, including seeking an audience with the Sarawak Head of State, Tun Abang Muhammad Salahuddin Barieng to inform his intention to step down as Sarawak Chief Minister.
He told members of the media that “I have got to do things in proper sequence” after attending the meeting.
During the press meeting held on the same day, DUN speaker and PBB permanent chairman, Datuk Amar Mohamad Asfia Awang Nassar said that after putting it to a vote, the supreme council together with attending party caucus members had unanimously approved the mandate that Taib nominate the successor of his choice as the next chief minister, and that he would need to name his successor before he stepped down.
“Taib needs to name his successor first before the question of his stepping down. Time frame was not given, but within a reasonable period,” he said.
Asfia hinted that the successor might come down to one of three names.
On the street, however, speculation includes any of the following:
- Minister in the Chief Minister’s Office (Special Functions), Tan Sri Datuk Amar Adenan Satem
- PBB Deputy President and Sarawak Housing and Tourism Minister, Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg
- PBB senior vice-president, Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hassan
- former Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Mohd Effendi Norwawi.
PBB would recommend Taib to be appointed as Sarawak’s next Yang diPertua Negeri to honor his efforts and contributions succeeding Tun Muhammad Salahuddin Abang Barieng after his retirement on February 28.
Although we had waited for almost 5 hours, the result was not disappointing at all. The event ended at 3pm and every one of us was excited to know the result of all this chaos that may be announced any time soon: WHO WOULD BE OUR NEXT SARAWAK CHIEF MINISTER???
Although his retirement may sound devastating to Sarawakians who have been living in peace and harmony thanks to him, he will always remain dear in the hearts of his supporters. His deeds in shaping Sarawak are really something to treasure as we are proud of the identity and unity that we have today with the help of Taib in maintaining them and we hope that whoever might be his choice of successor will continue the good work and bring further development to the state in the years to come.
Taib confirmed that he would step down as chief minister by “the end of the month” after chairing the State BN meeting at PBB HQ.
A by-election in Balingian looks likely if Taib vacates the seat to become the new Yang di-Pertua Negeri. According to state BN secretary-general Datuk Dr Stephen Rundi that the decision for a by-election should Taib vacate the seat would be up to the Election Commission (SPR).
Taib did not announce the name of his successor, but revealed that he would be meeting Head of State Tun Datuk Abang Muhammad Salahuddin on Feb 15, after which it is believed that he would announce his successor.