Johari needs time, Adenan a tough act to follow

Umno cannot afford to lose Sarawak and an “unstable” Barisan Nasional (BN) Sarawak will affect the state’s electoral “fixed deposit” position.

KUCHING: A columnist has raised the question in a Chinese newspaper, Sin Chew Daily, what politics in Sarawak would be like after the death of Chief Minister Adenan Satem last Wednesday.

The op-ed does not rule out Umno joining forces with an opposition party after GE14.

The additional dose of “unpredictability”, in the run-up to GE14, was the idea that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”.

Columnist Lim Sue Goan has several questions for the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) in the state.

Will BN Sarawak be firm against hudud law?

Again, will Adenan’s directive last March on Act 355 — on the Shariah Court’s powers —  be respected by Sarawak’s leaders? Adenan was against changes to the Act.

Umno cannot afford to lose Sarawak as an electoral “fixed deposit” state. An “unstable” BN Sarawak will affect this position. In the absence of a capable ally (PBB), Umno was expected to take time to study the changes in Sarawak politics.

The columnist noted that BN component parties had already joined hands with their Sarawak counterparts to reject hudud law. “That puts Umno at a disadvantage,” he said. “BN Sarawak has 25 MPs.”

Another six MP seats in Sarawak are held by the opposition who have also rejected hudud law, seen as inevitable if amendments to Act 355 was passed by the Malaysian Parliament.

If the new chief minister, Abang Johari Openg, was “less persistent” than his predecessor, it’s feared that BN component parties in Malaya (peninsula) would lose a strong backing. “Umno will have nothing to fear,” said Lim. “It makes it all the easier for Umno and PAS to collude (on Act 355).”

Adenan also adhered to his predecessor Taib Mahmud’s firm stand that “there was no place in Sarawak for Umno”.

Given Umno’s strength, if the party were to gain access to Sarawak, “the state would be destroyed by racist politics”, warned Lim. “In the end, the Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) would have no place in Sarawak.”

Hence, Johari’s ability to defend Sarawak’s political independence was important and critical.

In addition, will Adenan’s plans to have more autonomy for Sarawak die a premature death?

Adenan knew that “this was the best time” to regain Sarawak’s autonomy. Admitedly, progress on this had been slow, but Umno leaders had seen that the people if Sarawak under Adenan were resolute in regaining the state’s autonomy.

Again, Johari “has a crucial role to play to ensure the success of the plan to regain Sarawak’s autonomy”.

However, he will need some time to build up his credibility in the state.

Undoubtedly, Adenan will be a tough act to follow. His “people-oriented” policies saw the return of Chinese support to the state BN.

Already, Adenan’s death has affected Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s “mobilisation” for the 14th general election. It’s reckoned that BN may not do so well in GE14 without Adenan at the helm in Sarawak.

“It won’t be a clean sweep like in the state elections last May,” says the op-ed.

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