Sarawak’s indigenous community have high hopes that their newly-minted Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Openg will continue championing their native rights.
For that alone, two civil society leaders and a native rights lawyer gave their support to the 66-year-old successor to Tan Sri Adenan Satem who died of heart failure last Wednesday.
Sarawak For Sarawak (S4S) movement leader Peter John Jaban said Abang Johari had been outspoken on issues concerning the rights and interests of Sarawak while serving as deputy chief minister.
“I am very confident that he will fight more about Sarawak’s rights now that he is the chief minister,” he said.
“Therefore, he is the right choice to take over as our next chief minister,” he added.
Save Rivers Network chairman Peter Kallang congratulated Abang Johari on his appointment and expressed confidence that the new PPB president will do well for Sarawak and her people in the years to come.
However, Kallang asked for Abang Johari to keep the promise made by his predecessor not to go ahead with the construction of the controversial Baram dam.
“We hope that he will not re-instate its construction which was cancelled by the late chief minister last year, but should look for alternative sources of cheap energy,” he said.
Kallang said the new chief minister should listen to the voice of the Baram people who do not want a dam to be built in their land.
He warned that Save Rivers Network will reactivate its anti-dam teams if the state government reneges on its promise to cancel the construction of the dam.
About 20,000 people in 30 villages would have lost their homes or lands to the flooding, if the dam was to be built.
Lawyer and Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian said Abang Johari’s appointment was welcome news.
“We appreciate the fact that the appointment was made without delay to ensure continuing smooth administration of the state and to avoid speculations,” he said, adding that the appointment augurs well for the political stability of Sarawak.
The Ba’Kelalan assemblyman believed that Abang Johari, being a nine-term assemblyman, has come to understand the matters that are of great concern to the people of Sarawak from what Adenan had prioritised.
“We hope he will continue where the late chief minister left off and forge ahead with issues that were close to Adenan’s heart, such as autonomy, petroleum royalty, education and illegal logging, just to name a few.
“In particular, we are optimistic that he will maintain our right to freedom of religion as championed by Adenan and also pursue the native customary rights land issue that has been burdening the native communities,” he said.
Source : @ The Malay Mail Online