Issuu on Google+

Saturday, March 1, 2014 U S H E R I N G I N A N E W E1 E R A The new Chief Minister believes people have two ears and one mouth - so that we can listen twice as much as we speak. Adenan is ready to listen By Lian Cheng I t is a hot afternoon. The Borneo Post team, including Senior Executive Editor Francis Chan and Head of Special Desk Peter Sibon, talk to new Chief Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar Adenan Satem at his residence in Santubong. Outside, against a blue sky and lush greenery, the birds are still chirping although it is late in the afternoon. Inside his sitting room, the journalists find themselves among shelves and shelves of books on a wide range of topics, ranging from those on astronomy to Sufism. Although the interview is in his own house, Adenan, clad in Burberry checked shirt and a pair of brown pants, is just as in control, enigmatic, witty and spot-on when fielding questions. There are long pauses when he takes time to listen with the intent to understand. There are times when he listens with the intent to reply. There are also long silences before he fields more questions with the journalists trying to comprehend his thought-provoking, direct, short and concise replies. He does not show impatience – not interrupting and jumping to conclusions. Neither is he defensive about questions posed, but is ready to share his knowledge. Whether at close range or from a distance, the fifth Chief Minister of Sarawak exudes the temperament of a hermit more than a politician. He likes fishing because in all the listening and silence, he can learn to be patient and he can meditate. He enjoys nature and likes wild and lonely places in particular; he likes light blue because the colour is that of water and sky, and he likes to read because books do not talk back. All his likings point to an introvert who happens to end up a politician just like Winston Churchill and Barrack Obama. In this age when we are bombarded with all kinds of noise, perhaps it is timely for Sarawak to have a Chief Minister who listens – a Chief Minister who listens with his eyes, a Chief Minister who listens with his heart, a Chief Minister who listens to people around him -- and one who is silent to listen. Adenan, a man of few words, is ready to embark on a new journey as the Chief Minister of Sarawak at the age of 70. ON POLITICS Q: Did you know you were the chosen one (to be the new Chief Minister) before the announcement by Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud? A: No, I was informed in the last minute. Q: What came to your mind when you first knew about it? A: Let me come up with an opening statement first. I am very grateful for the expressions of support from many people from all walks of life across the communities who wish me well in my new job. Of course, there are some negative comments, but then I don’t expect the opposition to be complimentary. For those who have confidence in me, I shall try to justify their confidence the best way I can. As I have said earlier, I will try to be a Chief Minister to all – the Malays, Chinese, Ibans, Bidayuhs, Orang Ulu. And even the opposition, I hope they will accept me as their Chief Minister too. I am going to be the Chief Minister for Sarawak. There is no such thing as a Chief Minister for the Malays or for the Barisan Nasional. A Chief Minister must be for all. Q: So what came to your mind when you first knew about it? A: The first thing that came to my mind was – this is going to be a big responsibility. This is going to be a big responsibility which requires my full attention and devotion to duty. Q: Former Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud said he would not interfere with the state’s political affairs unless his advice was sought. Would you like to comment on his statement? A: That is the correct constitutional position of a Head of State because he is above politics. Q: There were a few developments following your first press conference at Yayasan Sarawak (after the announcement by Pehin Sri). Some had taken the cue, especially Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) president Tan Sri William Mawan. What is your comment? A: This is a very good sign – a very encouraging sign. In politics, you have to give and take. You cannot have it your way all the time. Sometimes, you have to compromise for the sake of unity. This is a very good sign. I shall be calling the parties involved and listen to what they have to say. Q: Are you going to take the same step with Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP)? A: I will try. Q: What are the formulae you have for this? A: I can’t be specific about the formulae. I would have to hear from them first. You see in politics, you learn not only to talk but how to listen. We have two ears and one mouth. We have to listen before we say anything. If we talk, we are repeating what we already know. And if we listen, we might learn what we don’t know. We might learn something new. Q: What about speculations on the appointment of Datuk Amar Abang Johari as the other Deputy Chief Minister? A: For the time being, everything goes on as before. I will consider that at the appropriate time. That speculation is not illogical. Q: Have you talked with Abang Johari and Datuk Amar Awang Tengah (Ali Hasan)? A: I am looking forward to working with them. They have said they would work with me. To us, in PBB, the party is more important than personalities. Q: With the Bumiputera Supreme Council members outnumbering the Pesaka wing in PBB, is there a possibility of a Dayak becoming Chief Minister of Sarawak? A: In politics, everything is possible. Taib’s choice is of someone who is quite capable. But I am not saying I am more capable than the rest. I want to make this clear. For instance, Taib is a Melanau. He is from a minority race but nobody has any qualms or raised anything. What is important for a Sarawak leader is to ensure the races are working together within the context of the parties in BN and whatever race one belongs to, the voice will be heard. Q: You have been working with the former Chief Minister for the past 33 years. How would you describe him? A: I think I have been working with him since 1972. There is only one Taib Mahmud. He is one of a kind – his imagination, originality, intelligence. I mean words are not enough to describe him. I think he is one in a million. There is only one Taib. You know the song Lagenda? There are one thousand stars in the sky but there is only one that shines – and that is Taib Mahmud. Q: What would you like to achieve as the Chief Minister of Sarawak? A: I have already said it. I will continue what my predecessor has started. When you are on a good thing, you stick to it. You don’t just change horses midstream - you don’t simply change because people will ask: change for what? So I will continue with my present team. I do have ideas of my own but I will put them on the back burner first until I see the total picture. I have gone through a series of briefings given by government departments, ministries and Adenan and wife, Puan Seri Dato Jamilah Anu statutory bodies to keep tabs on what is going on. I can make policies only after I have the assessment and have known all the facts. Q: What do you think will be your biggest challenge as Chief Minister of Sarawak? A: I don’t envy the person who succeeds Taib Mahmud because his shoes are much too big for me to fill. The biggest challenge is unity within Barisan Nasional (BN). I will need to strengthen the component parties to overcome certain issues raised with regards to the approach to development. I don’t think I can measure up to my predecessor but I will try. Q: What is your stance on Umno entering into Sarawak – which we believe is the biggest fear of most Sarawakians? A: I am relieved to hear some Umno leaders say they will not come to Sarawak. Alhough there might be a necessity in Sabah, there is no necessity to come here. Q: It’s an enormous task to fulfil Pehin Sri’s vision, especially the economic thrust of Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE). So are you going to get people like Datuk Seri Dr Effendi Norwawi to help in the state’s economic development? A: Effendi can be an unofficial advisor. He said he has retired and is not interested in politics anymore. But that does not mean I can’t use his expertise in economics and finance. I will invite him to come over to advise me on certain economic and financial matters. Continued on Page E2


Related publications