Prime Minister Najib Razak should fire his entire PR team and go learn politics from Sarawak’s Chief Minister, Adenan Satem. Adenan continues to play the game of politics like a grand conductor who knows exactly what he must do to charm an audience. His Hari Raya message was a showcase of the man’s political acumen. It is great politics condensed into 10 brief paragraphs. Free Malaysia Today’s Scott Ng writes:
He played to the gallery masterfully, first giving thanks for the ability to celebrate Hari Raya peacefully and harmoniously, praising Sarawakians for their ability to celebrate the occasion across culture, religion and race. Ramming the point home by attributing this harmony to the Sarawakians themselves, he described the occasionas being beyond the occasion itself, the result of the patience and the spirit of cooperation that embodies the state.
Perhaps even more impressive was the way he tied it all back to his message of Sarawak for Sarawakians, stressing that it was doubly important to keep out elements from the peninsula to ensure the unity of the state. He reinforced the sense of unity among the Sarawakians, subtly using the peninsula as an example of how selfish pride for self or race leads to strife, and bolstered their need for self-determination by stating that Sarawakians know best how to run Sarawak.
He praised the way Sarawakians shared the joy of Ramadan and Hari Raya together across racial and religious lines, and stressed that cultural celebrations should not be celebrated exclusively, but with friends and family, reminding the readers that it is in fact this inclusiveness that is the secret to Sarawak’s stability. This gels quite nicely with his mantra of encouraging Sarawakians to take pride in the unique way the state is run, far from the tense, racially charged atmosphere in West Malaysia.
And they should indeed be proud. Sarawak stands now as what Malaysia should be in terms of unity and harmony, as West Malaysia fiddles idly by while the very same values that the Sarawakians take pride in are eroded by extremists and parties with vested interests.
Adenan is crafting a vision for Sarawak, and one that resonates with every Sarawakian sick of being looked down upon by people on the peninsula. Sarawakians are tired of seeing their state overlooked in development despite its wealth of natural resources.
Adenan’s vision, while tempered by the ambitions of Barisan Nasional, is a far cry from the way the state was run by his predecessor, and that is the highest praise one can give him. However, he must keep his resolve firm as politics become ever dirtier here on the peninsula. He must keep moving forward with this vision in spite of the roadblocks he will inevitably encounter from the politics of West Malaysia. He plays a game with no margin for error. Sarawak stands to lose if he cannot walk that tightrope skilfully enough to guide the state into what could be its golden age.