DATUK Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan will go down in history as the man who inspired Sarawakians to fight for their rights and planted a dream of hope in their hearts.
Sarawakians will be forever grateful to the State’s Fifth Chief Minister for standing up to protect their rights as enshrined in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) and fighting to get back the autonomous power which the State has lost.
A notable step in this endeavour was taken in December 2015 when the State Legislative Assembly unanimously approved a resolution, mandating the State government to safeguard Sarawak’s special interests, including education and use of the English language.
When he took over the helm of the state government on Feb 28, 2014, Adenan was a man in a hurry, setting himself 53 goals to accomplish during his tenure.
It was a mission that made many smirk and shake their heads at the sheer impossibility of the task but the newly-minted Chief Minister showed that his words were no mere political bravado as he hit the ground running as if knowing the limited time he had to fulfil his mission.
At the time of his demise at 1.30pm yesterday, just 48 days away from his third year in office, he had silenced his doubters by achieving many of the goals set and initiating action to achieve the rest.
He did it with his unorthodox approach, doing away with euphemisms and polite words that political correctness de-mands.
Breaking with the tradition of long salutations, his speeches were concise and to the point, offering a welcome breath of fresh air to the audience.
When he had to, he would not shy away from calling a spade a spade, famously branding the national education policy as “stupid.”
He ruffled the feathers of those who would undermine Sarawak’s efforts to assert its determination to regain its autonomous rights and power with his point-blank admonishments but won the hearts of the people in the state for standing up for them.
Adenan was also a witty and unassuming speaker, peppering his speeches with colloquial expressions in Iban and Malay, often breaking the ice with his trademark Iban celebratory cry “ooh ha” and emphasising his points with the local Malay expression “you you.”
Above all, he was a Chief Minister for all the people and whose top priority was bridging the income gap to alleviate the heavy burden on their shoulders.
He abolished all the tolls on bridges and made rural development his top priority.
Adenan was also not afraid to extend his hand to the opposition for the greater good of the state.
Soon after taking office, he raised a few eyebrows by inviting opposition lawmakers to lunch at his office.
He did not look at the opposition as his political enemy per se but also recognised them as loyal Malaysians who are strive to serve the people as well.
“We must remember the opposition are Malaysians loyal to the country. It is not wrong to give them an opportunity to speak or listen to their views,” he said.
However, Adenan did not have a magic wand to solve every problem or implement all his plans successfully.
Inevitably, he ran into obstacles in the imple-mentation of his directives but remained undaunted and strove on.
His term as Chief Minister was cut short by his demise but the dream and hopes he implanted in the hearts of Sarawakians will live on.
As we mourn Adenan’s passing, the best way to show our gratitude for all he had done for the state is to continue living his dream of rising above race, religion and politics in working towards attaining the goals he set.
Sarawakians will remember Adenan and cherish his memory in many way but the one whereby he had endeared himself to the people and by which Sarawakians will remember him by should aptly be – ooh ha you you.
In its own unique way, this salutation has struck an accordant chord with the people and will continue to resonate in their grateful hearts.
May his soul rest in peace.