Hornbill Unleashed

July 9, 2017

A possible new Bornean hero

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 8:02 AM

Man of distinction:Abang Johari’s view of Sarawak is complex, acknowledging the state as a crucial part of the Federation, but one that retains a political and cultural character as far removed as its geography from Putrajaya.The Sarawak Chief Minister plans to preserve his state’s special identity, and stresses that it has a different culture from Peninsular Malaysia. 

SARAWAK Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg is a sort of Bornean hero to many of my fellow Sabahans.

When Abang Jo, as he is fondly known in Sarawak, announced on Saturday that he would send a team of lawyers to London to search for and study any references related to the state’s rights under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), many Sabahans hailed him as a hero.

I first saw Abang Jo in action during the 2001 Sarawak polls. He was campaigning to defend Satok, a state seat in Kuching. Even at the time, he was mentioned as one of the Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) leaders who might take over from Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud as CM.

And yet he didn’t grab the CM post, but waited for fate to give it to him.

In 2014, when Taib retired, Abang Johari conceded that Tan Sri Adenan Satem would take over as Sarawak Chief Minister.

“When Adenan was chosen by Taib to take over from him, Abang Johari took it calmly and gave immediate support to Adenan,” recalled Kota Samarahan municipal council chairman Datuk Peter Minos, who has been with PBB since the 1960s.

“Abang Jo was deputy president of PBB and Adenan was publicity chief, but his loyalty to PBB are second to none.

“PBB is in his family’s blood. His dad (Tun Abang Openg Abang Sapiee, who was a former Sarawak governor) helped create PBB.”

On Jan 11, Adenan died and Abang Johari took over as Chief Minister.

Last week, I was in Kuching to interview the 66-year-old politician, with my Sarawakian colleagues Sharon Ling and Geryl Ogilvy. The Star Media Group interviewed Abang Johari at his residence in Petra Jaya, adjacent to Kuching city.

The first question I posed was: “Is it a blessing or a curse for Sarawak to be Barisan Nasional’s fixed deposit?”

“The question depends on the response from the people,” he said. “But so far Sarawakians know we need a very stable government.”

Abang Johari went on to talk about the cultural differences between Sarawak and Kuala Lumpur (which is how Sarawakians and Sabahans refer to Peninsular Malaysia).

“That is why Tok Nan (the nickname of Adenan) banned certain personalities from entering Sarawak. I will continue the same thing, as the culture in Peninsular Malaysia is different,” he said.

“For instance, our religious tolerance is high. We don’t have these so-called religious … Adenan used ‘bigots’ … to really spoil the way we live here.

“In terms of concept, we follow BN’s concept but we must preserve our special Sarawak identity.

“We are lucky our past leaders did not give away all Immigration power. Until today we want to preserve that power so that we can make use of it.

“If we feel somebody may jeopardise the racial relations among us, we will use that power,” he said.

Abang Johari continued: “So, to answer your question, it is neither one (a blessing or curse). It depends on how Sarawak manages itself.”

“Is Sarawak a country or a state?” I asked.

“It is very difficult for me to answer your question because under the Malaysia Agreement, there were four parties that signed it,” said Abang Johari, referring to Malaya, Sarawak, North Borneo and Singapore.

“I used to say (Datuk Seri) Najib Tun Razak and I have a stake in it, because his father signed it and my father signed it.

“Definitely, we have to comply with what is stated in the Malaysia Agreement,” he said, referring to Tun Abdul Razak Hussein and Tun Abang Openg.

(On July 9, 1963, the Malaysia Agreement was concluded between Britain, the Federation of Malaya, North Borneo, Sarawak and Singapore, which led to the formation of Malaysia.)

“Of course, through the years – knowingly or unknowingly – our people also agreed to give back certain areas to KL, but we have to protect our side.

“To give you a point to answer your question”, said Abang Jo, “the other states in Peninsular Malaysia manage their states based on the executive council system.”

“They have no ministers. Only Sabah and Sarawak have a Cabinet system with ministers.

“When we formed Malaysia together with Singapore, we had our own Cabinet system. If you study it from that angle, we are separate. We are only subjects under KL because we are a federation.

“Whether we are a state or a country in itself, we are a sovereign state but we are subject to certain policies as listed in our Constitution. That’s all.”

I’m told that it is too early to judge whether Abang Johari is a heroic Chief Minister.

“Give him a full year, until January next year,” several politicians told me.

Source : Star Online by  PHILIP GOLINGAI




  1. Umno will lose power in several states including Johor and Sabah in GE 14 and now resorting to dirty tactic by making use of ROS to reclaim Penang which is mission impossible. It is most likely that Sarawak BN shall be an Opposition when Pakatan Harapan takes over Putrajaya after GE14.

    It may be wise for Sarawak BN to allow referendum to decide the fate of Sarawak should Umno Baru controlled BN lose power in GE 14.

    Comment by Sabri Yaman — July 9, 2017 @ 10:27 PM | Reply

  2. The Sarawak government’s move to send lawyers to London to study the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) shows a lack of confidence in the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC), said jailed former PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim.

    “It gives the impression that the (Sarawak) state government lacks confidence in the AGC to give a fair and free judgement,” Anwar said in a statement today.

    Comment by Ricky Tee — July 9, 2017 @ 8:46 PM | Reply

  3. Sarawak CM and BN Sarawak can only talk bullshits and make empty promises. When BN Sarawak MPs were debating a bill which infringed on the rights of Sarawak and Sabah or the Malaysia Agreement 1963, none of the Sarawak BN dare to object and had voted with their two balls behind their dumbass.

    Comment by Awaken Dayak — July 9, 2017 @ 3:28 PM | Reply

  4. Malaysians from Peninsular Malaysia , Sarawak and Sabah could live and coexist with each other during the era of Tunku Abdul Rahman and P Ramlee. Tun Razak started the divide and rule politics and the rest is now history. Under Najib Tun Razak the nation has literally gone to the dogs but Sarawak BN components chose to work with Najib and Umno Baru. It was Umno Baru that has created a very corrupted, racist and bigot culture. It was Umno Baru and now together with PAS they wanted to dominate power and defend the thieves and crooks in Umno Baru using race and religion as their weapons.

    Comment by Awaken Dayak — July 9, 2017 @ 12:03 PM | Reply

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