PETALING JAYA: The sudden call for a Sarawak Barisan Nasional meeting this weekend has set tongues wagging that this could be when Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud announces his resignation.
Although calls to State Senior Ministers Wednesday suggest otherwise, word is spreading that the longest serving Chief Minister in the country will endorse his successor at the forthcoming meeting.
The names being bandied about as potential successors are Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu Sarawak (PBB) deputy president Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg, PBB information chief Tan Sri Adenan Satem, PBB vice president Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan.
However, sources say that there are only two in the running for the post and in the meantime Adenan will be warming up the seat before a decision is finalised.
“The thing here is it is a choice between Johari and Awang Tengah. Johari is apparently Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s pick while Awang Tengah is Taib’s pick.
“So while that is being finalised, Adenan will be selected to be acting Chief Minister,” said the source.
Taib, who is State Barisan Chairman and PBB President, is expected to take over as Sarawak Governor given the term for the current Head of State, Tun Muhammad Salahuddin, expires this month.
Senior ministers who were contacted had declined to comment, claiming that they had not heard of anything out the ordinary in regard to the meeting.
Sarawak United People’s Party top gun Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh said he had no knowledge of what was going to be discussed in the meeting while Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party President Tan Sri William Mawan said he too was in the dark.
When met at a press conference in Kuching, Johari also kept mum on the situation.
Parti Rakyat Sarawak President Tan Sri James Masing said that though this weekend’s meeting is a bit unusual in terms of timing, it certainly wasn’t an emergency meeting.
“It’s about time Barisan has a meeting. We have not had any after the 13th Parliamentary Election,” he said.
He went on to say that Taib had indicated he would retire mid-term.
“And I believe he will. Day, month and year he retires will be up to him to decide. Just give him the time and space to do so. As for his successor, PRS will follow whomever PBB and top Barisan leaders decide (on),” he added.
Meanwhile, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak’s Dr Jeniri Amir, who is well versed in the state’s politics believes the seasoned politician will hand over the baton this weekend.
“His time is up. He has promised many a time he would give up his post and the time has come for him to fulfil that,” he said.
Asked who is likely to succeed him, Dr Jeniri said Johari had a greater chance.
He explained this was because Johari had a proven track record and has held senior positions in PBB, the backbone party of the state Barisan, for a long time unlike Awang Tengah, whom people still perceive as junior for the position.
However, he said Adenan should not be ruled out for the former Federal minister had been a trusted ally of Taib’s.
On another probable candidate, Datuk Seri Effendi Norwawi, Dr Jeniri said Effendi was definitely out of the picture.
He said this was because it would be unfair to pick someone who was not in the party. “The people have waited long enough. He needs to fulfil his promise otherwise people will question his integrity,” he added.
Taib has held the Chief Minister’s post for 33 years. He took over from his uncle Tun Abdul Rahman Yakub in 1981.
Abang Jo declines commenting on being Taib’s possible successor