Malaysiakini Letter

A confluence of ideals: Abang Johari, Baru Bian on the same page

Peter Raja  |  Published:

LETTER | Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg appeared to be in top form on Saturday as he stood up as a statesman when he spoke at the opening of the Telok Melano to Sematan road, which marks a milestone in the ongoing construction of the Pan-Borneo Highway.

He paid tribute to his predecessor Adenan Satem, who had prompted the then BN federal government to kick-start the RM16.5 billion highway from Telok Melano.

Abang Johari then pivoted to the Federal Works Minister: “Being a Sarawakian, he knows best our limitations. Forget about (political) parties, we must put Sarawak’s affairs above political differences.

“I must say ‘thank you’ to Baru Bian for inviting me to witness the opening of this road, and together we witness the realisation of Tok Nan’s (Adenan) dream,” he said.

If you remember, there was a time when the late Adenan was keen to bring PKR’s Baru Bian on board the Sarawak BN team.

But the plan fell through - not because Baru, a Lun Bawang from Lawas, was not qualified enough. Like Adenan, he was an Australia-trained lawyer.

Even though they were 20 years apart in age, both had similar traits and convictions — the late Adenan was passionate about saving the environment and protecting it for posterity, and Baru wanted to ensure that the forests remained in the hands of the original owners of the land — the natives of Sarawak.

Knowing Adenan’s concern for the flora and fauna of Sarawak, Sarawak’s fourth chief minister Taib Mahmud appointed him as environment minister and another young politician Abang Johari as minister with a portfolio that included Penan affairs.

Both Adenan and Abang Johari worked well as a team and as destiny would have it, the former succeeded Taib as chief minister in 2014 followed by the later who assumed the post in 2017.

By a twist of fate, Adenan took a liking to Baru – son of evangelical pastors from Lawas - who was the opposition party whip in the state assembly.

And what a coincidence when the BN government announced plans to construct the Pan Borneo Highway in Sarawak, it would start at Adenan’s Tanjung Datu constituency and end at Lawas — Baru’s backyard!

Then came the watershed GE14 when Baru’s PKR stunned Sarawak BN by winning four seats. He led the way by going against the odds to wrest the Selangau constituency, a stronghold of BN component party PRS.

From opposition whip, Baru finds himself at the helm of the new Sarawak political equation. He now stands at the forefront of Sarawak’s Pakatan Harapan leaders representing the federal government.

If Abang Johari and Baru Bian can see eye-to-eye and put aside petty quarrels and look at the big picture, which is to develop Sarawak, then Sarawakians have much to look forward to in the coming years.


The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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