Exactly one year ago when Tan Sri Adenan Satem was hand-picked by the outgoing chief minister then, Tun Taib Mahmud, from a short list of three or even four possible heirs, he wasn’t the most likely or favoured choice.
As it happened there were the usual sceptics who were not sure if he was up to the job as his health was questionable, having “survived” a medical scare a couple of years back. TheAntDaily’s Edgar Ong reports:
As it turned out, Sarawakians of every race, creed and religion have over this short period made up their minds that he has given the previously formal and disciplined high office a very personal touch which has quickly endeared him to many.
Of course as to be expected, the jury for the hardcore among the rest still sceptical – is still out.
A candid photograph of him having breakfast at a popular spot in town (Satok MARKET in Kuching) on the morning March 8 without much fanfare and with no visible entourage nor hangers-on, nor bodyguards, had made the rounds very quickly on the usual social media, which had further promoted his personal image of being the casual, informal and approachable statesman… which in effect and to those who know him well, is quite true.
Many had used the term “down to earth” in describing such moments – and when captioning the photograph – as it made the buzz on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
During a recent nine-minute short speech which Adenan made at an MBKS Chinese New Year function in Kuching, as he introduced the prime minister, he started by addressing the shortest list of dignitaries present by jokingly stating – “Ministers from the West and ministers from the East”, besides just addressing the PM as “Ah Jib-Kor” the local lingua-franca for “Brother Najib”. This was certainly unheard of before today!
His speech had touched on three things, after having set aside his “prepared standard written speech”, matters he said were close to the people’s hearts and minds – the reduction of the cost of electricity, the government’s donation of RM4 million to the independent Chinese schools, and the possibility of doing away with all tolls (which would affect two bridges throughout Sarawak.)
In jest, he retorted that he could only do this as the Sarawak Energy Board and the toll concessionaires would only “negotiate with me, because of my ‘face’; and the opposition DAP won’t be able to do the same thing”.
Adenan also took the opportunity to remind those who were present (estimated to be around 30,000; mostly urban dwellers – Chinese, Malays and Dayaks) that the Sarawak election is due within the next year or so; and that when it is called – for voters not to forget whatever good deeds he has done and will be doing for them.
‘Pak Nan’, as he is lovingly referred to by the locals, has the gift of the gab; he speaks a commanding Queen’s English having been educated at the University of Adelaide in Australia; and all the local languages – even some Iban, Hokkien and local slang besides mastery of his mother tongue Bahasa and local bazaar Malay.
Hobbies listed in his CV on the official government’s CMO website mentioned golfing, fishing, singing and reading.
His speeches are always interesting and would include personal anecdotes and numerous jokes, some bordering on the ribald and even sexist.
A few of his close friends used to joke that he tends to be afflicted with making overly lengthy speeches, sometimes to their hunger having to wait hours before they could partake of the food!
It is expected that he will see this full term through, which for all Sarawakians is a good thing – they are still enjoying a “honeymoon” period of adjustment with him and hope to see many other changes, for the better, after having endured many terms of a previous leader who didn’t really have that magical “personal touch”.