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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Is Adenan walking the talk to win next state elections?

Sarawak chief minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem has done many things ‘right’ in his first year in office. – Malaysian Insider pic, February 28, 2015Sarawak chief minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem has done many things ‘right’ in his first year in office. – Malaysian Insider pic, February 28, 2015
Many were sceptical when Tan Sri Adenan Satem was appointed the chief minister of Sarawak a year ago, but his bold moves on issues affecting the state and its people have won the hearts of many.
However, is he really the progressive and liberal statesman his many growing admirers have made him out to be?
Adenan, the fifth chief minister of Sarawak, has said and did many “right things” since taking office on February 28 last year. In that time he has become an influential figure and many believe he can take the state to greater heights.
However, political analyst Dr Mohd Faisal Syam Abdol Hazis of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak does not think Adenan a liberal or a progressive, although he considers himself one of the chief minister’s admirers.
Faisal believes the policies Adenan had implemented and actions he had taken have had one clear objective – to win the coming state election.
It is a view not lost on colleague and fellow analyst at Unimas, Dr Jeniri Amir and Dr James Chin, the director of the Asia Institute of the University of Tasmania.
Today, Adenan marks his first year in office and Faisal, Jeniri and Chin all agree that the 71-year-old had spent the most part of his 12 months in office priming a fractious, bruised and battered Sarawak Barisan Nasional he inherits for the election.
Adenan succeeded Taib when the latter stepped down after 33 years in office.
And as chief executive of this resource-rich state, Taib had long been accused – but never proven – of raping the jungles to enrich himself and his immediate family, grabbing native lands to give to cronies for plantations and awarding lucrative state contracts to a family-run conglomerate.
Such was the scale of the alleged plunder that a Swiss non-governmental organisation, The Bruno Manser Fund, had even listed Taib as one of the richest men in the world, claiming he had his money stashed in secret accounts all over the world.
Such claims had become ammunition for the opposition to exploit, and often successfully, at elections.
“Adenan understands the issues that have been lingering and he's not the one to sweep these issues under the carpet as his predecessors would have,” Faisal said.
“These are issues that had given the opposition hot ammunition to create sentiments against the BN.
“He understands them well and he's addressing all these issues one by one.” Other issues include the alleged land grab of native customary rights (NCR) land by the government, illegal logging, nepotism and the construction of mega hydroelectric dams that displaced thousands of natives.
Since taking over office, Adenan had signed the integrity pledge drawn up by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) where he vowed not to award contracts or state land to his family.
He had even made civil servants, timber tycoons and his cabinet members sign the same pledge.
His tackling of illegal logging by withdrawing hundreds of concession licences from concessionaires suspected of being involved in illegal logging, stopped giving land to companies for plantations and even stopped Umno and religious extremists from coming to the state had all gone down well with the general public.
Faisal, considered one of the foremost experts on Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), the lead party in the Sarawak Barisan Nasional, believes that what has happened in the last 12 months had left the opposition bereft of issues they could use for the election.
“They do not seem to have anything to shoot BN with now.
“Adenan... he's shrewd and he's a strategist. (But) I don't think he's a liberal progressive. Not yet,” said Faisal.
“All that he's doing now is gearing BN towards the state election.”
The mandate of the state government ends in June next year.
Faisal said the true test, on whether Adenan is the liberal progressive they make him to be, would be when he delivers his initiatives if he gets his own mandate.
“How far would he go? We'll just have to wait and see.
“One thing for sure, Adenan is a positive leader and what surprised me was how fast the opposition has embraced him. That's pretty weird to me.”
Chin, on the other hand, said Adenan had “done a fantastic job on the public relations side”.
“He is using Sarawak nationalism to cover the Taib issue and by saying PBB will keep Umno out, he has sidelined Sarawak PR (Pakatan Rakyat) who cannot use the Umno issue now.”
Chin, of the Asia Institute at the University of Tasmania, said he believed the policies and actions Adenan has taken would, with the exception of the DAP, flatten the opposition if the polls we called tomorrow.
Analyst Jeniri calls it populist actions.
“He will improve on BN's popular votes but not in terms of winning more seats.
“Maybe one or two marginal seats but there's no guarantee the Chinese would be back and vote for the BN.
“PBB and PRS (Parti Rakyat Sarawak) will win all their seats and the BN will win all the 11 new seats.”
It’s a view Chin shares.
He said if the election was called tomorrow, the Malay-Muslim seats will be 100% PBB's.
Dayak seats will go to BN parties, “official and unofficial BN alike”, Chin said referring to PRS, Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP), Sarawak United People's Party (SUPP) and pro-BN parties like United People's Party (UPP) and Parti Tenaga Rakyat Sarawak (Teras). UPP and Teras are splitter parties of SUPP and SPDP respectively.
“The seats status quo would remain. The Chinese seats would go to DAP.
“DAP will be the only opposition party left standing,” Chin said.
When Adenan took over office, Jeniri asked himself two questions – whether he could fill the “big shoes” left behind by Taib and whether he could be his own man.
“Without a doubt, its 'Yes' to both.” 
- TMI

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