Sarawak's new Chief Minister is 'unifying' Adenan

KUCHING - Tan Sri Adenan Satem got the nod over "people's choice" Datuk Amar Abang Johari Openg as the new Chief Minister to avert any rift among PBB leaders and supporters.

"He (Adenan) is perceived to be 'not disruptive', especially during this sensitive period of transition and the next state election which is expected to be challenging," said a Barisan Nasional official.

"Adenan is seen to be a unifying factor for the party. This is his key advantage apart from various others such as the ability to protect the state's rights," the official added.

He believed that "the party may face disunity if Taib had picked either (deputy president) Johari or (senior vice-president) Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan".

According to the official, both Johari and Tengah had strong influence in the party and the choice of either one would upset the supporters of the other.

Taib announced Adenan as his successor after officially tendering his resignation, effective Feb 28, to Yang di-Pertua Negri Tun Abang Muhammad Salahuddin Barieng at the Astana here yesterday.

Adenan is expected to be sworn in as the fifth Chief Minister of Sarawak on March 1.

Taib is set to take over as the new Head of State once Tun Muhammad Salahuddin completes his term on Feb 28.

Taib, who is the Balingian assemblyman, will have to step down as an elected representative to take over as TYT. He has said he would vacate his Balingian seat, but would leave it to the new Chief Minister to decide on the candidate to contest the by-election.

"Probably his first duty will be to consult all the other relevant Barisan partners on who should be fielded. I do not have anybody in mind to replace me and I leave it to the Chief Minister," Taib said.

The party has recommended Taib for the post of TYT and although it looks very much like Taib will accept the job, he can be unpredictable.

"Just look at today's event. Two days ago, he said he would be seeking an audience with the TYT only this Saturday. Yet everyone was caught by surprise this afternoon," the official added.

There are also questions about Johari now with Adenan's appointment. Just days ago, he had looked like the frontrunner. However, it is believed that appeasement moves had been made.

"I have an arrangement with the Chief Minister which I cannot reveal now. I will talk about it tomorrow (today)," Johari said yesterday.

According to his personal assistant, Johari is expected to call for a press conference at his ministry at 10am today.

A senior party official admitted that there was "some kind of plan" going on.

Speculation is rife that Johari, the son of Sarawak's first TYT, would be made deputy chief minister in the next state Cabinet reshuffle. However, it is not known what Awang Tengah's new role will be.

Tan Sri Alfred Jabu will remain deputy chief minister until the next Cabinet reshuffle. If Johari is appointed as a second deputy Chief Minister, PBB will actually be taking a slot previously alloted to SUPP.

Before the last state election in 2011, the Deputy Chief Minister I post was traditionally held by SUPP with the other going to a PBB leader from its Pesaka Wing. Tan Sri Dr George Chan was the last SUPP leader to hold the DCM 1 post.