On the local Sarawak front, 2014 saw the emergence of Tan Sri Adenan Satem as the Chief Minister, replacing Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud who had been the state’s number one for the past 33 years.
Adenan has proven to be a blessing for Sarawakians and Malaysians in general, surprising many with the way he defended the state
His tough stance against extremism and determination to preserve the unity and harmony of Sarawak saw him banning Perkasa chairman Datuk Seri Ibrahim Ali and controversial academic Ridhuan Tee from entering this state.
Adenan had also remained steadfast in his stance that the controversy over the use of the word Allah in the peninsula will never become an issue in Sarawak and that Sarawakians will always be allowed to practise their faiths without hindrance.
His commitment to maintain racial and religious peace in Sarawak has earned him respect across the board throughout the state and country, with even Opposition leaders like Lim Guan Eng praising Adenan for his courage in standing up against extremists.
Adenan had also wielded the big stick in tackling illegal logging and corrupt practices in the industry.
The way he exposed corrupt practices was a big surprise for many people, because it is a well- known fact that the logging industry in Sarawak was controlled by very powerful and influential companies.
He also insisted that the “big six” in the logging sector in Sarawak – the six major companies controlling the industry – be forced to sign integrity-pledges that they will not use corrupt methods to advance their businesses in the state.
2015 will see this war on corruption going into high gear.
Adenan also tried to make peace with the various warring factions among the state’s Barisan Nasional component parties, especially in the Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) and the Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP).
Unhappy party leaders in SUPP were allowed to leave SUPP and join the new party, the United People’s Party (UPP) while those disgruntled leaders in SPDP did the same and left SPDP to helm Parti Tenaga Rakyat Sarawak (Teras).
That had somewhat lessened the internal politicking in SUPP and SPDP but there are still uneasy feelings across the political arena in Sarawak that UPP and TERAS are just sharpening their knives waiting for the chance to kill off SUPP and SPDP during the next state election due by mid-2016.
There is a real possibility that Adenan may call for an early election before the year-end.
So, will 2015 be a state election year in Sarawak? That is the intriguing question that will be floating around in the months ahead in this state as we head into 2015.
Whatever it is, I feel that 2015 will be a difficult year.
There is always the danger that extremists and radicals among racial and religious zealots in the peninsula will continue to fan the fire of hatred in their quest to see Malaysians torn apart.
Sarawak will have to remain vigilant to prevent these extremists from establishing roots in this state.
The Goods and Services Tax (GST) is coming into force in April 2015, and will definitely see the cost of living rising on many fronts. It will affect the ordinary rakyat, especially those with big families.
There is also the perpetual danger of more natural disasters in the country, caused by increasing environmental degradation and damage to the ecosystem and the environment.
We all pray for a better 2015 but still, we have to brace our mind and heart for the possibility that it may be an even tougher year than 2014.