Tan Sri Adenan Satem is preparing to lead Sarawak into his maiden election as chief minister with the knowledge that he is very much his own man.
No one is pulling the strings behind him, not even his long-serving predecessor Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud, who is now the Yang di-Pertua Negri.
“When he asked me to succeed him, he said, ‘You make your own policies, you do what you think is right. Don’t consult me unless it’s something important and I will not tell you what to do unless you ask me. If you ask for advice I will give but I will not give you advice unsolicited.’
“He gave me all the freedom. After all, he said he was not the Chief Minister anymore,” Adenan said. “And, Taib has kept his promise.”
Adenan sees Taib once a month to brief him before Cabinet meetings and compare notes about what the people have to say of the way they run Sarawak.
“If someone sells his name for something, I can ask him whether it is true,” Adenan said during an exclusive interview with The Star.
He said the former chief minister was busy as the Governor.
“He has more time now and he likes to travel, which is good. You don’t expect him to sit in the Astana twiddling his thumbs. He has always been an active man so he cannot just retire and do nothing.
“He’s busy with social matters and basically does not interfere in our political affairs, that is the main thing.”
With the state election looming, Adenan said his hope was to win by a landslide and do even better than his predecessor.
“I don’t think he will be jealous. He will be very happy,” Adenan said with a laugh.
In the last polls, Barisan won 55 seats while 12 seats went to DAP, three to PKR and one to an independent.
The next election, which must be called by mid-2016, will see 82 seats contested, an increase of 11 after the Election Commission’s redelineation exercise was approved by Parliament earlier this month.
The current State Legislative Assembly’s term ends on June 20 and the state constitution stipulates that an election must be held within 60 days after the expiry.
“There’s no point speculating now. Let’s just say before June,” Adenan said about the election date.
He would like a big victory in order to maintain stability and bring greater development to Sarawak.
“We have proven that we can bring stability, unlike what is going on in the peninsula now. I don’t think we want to follow that road.
“We want Sarawak to be a haven for political stability because we have much to do economically, to catch up with the rest of the country.”
Being a Sarawakian, he added, he dreamed of a day when there would be “less suffering, less poverty, less ignorance. These are our principal enemies, not each other”.