A smiling Abang Johari talking to the media.
KUCHING: Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg has been cracking jokes throughout the weekend outside PBB’s meeting room and his positive vibes have fuelled speculation that he is the man most likely to take over from Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud as Chief Minister.
Next to Taib, Johari has been attracting the most media attention.
However, instead of giving straight answers to prying questions, he keeps deflecting them with humorous replies.
When reporters stopped Johari between the meeting room and dining hall yesterday, he quipped: “Wait for the official announcement. There might be no lunch left for me inside!”
Later, asked if he was the chosen one, Johari quickly replied that the question was premature, adding: “We unanimously agreed to give him (Taib the mandate to select). That’s the principle. There must be ethics.”
Political scientist Dr Jeniri Amir of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak is among those who believe that Johari is the frontrunner.
“There are many factors. On stage, he is the best public speaker. To lead the state election, you need someone who is seen as enthusiastic,” Jeniri told The Star. “Of the names suggested, Johari is also probably the one with the most support from the Chinese community.”
Taib’s endorsed list of successors comprise Johari, senior vice-president Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan and Information chief Tan Sri Adenan Satem.
Jeniri said Johari and Adenan were both “in the final lap”.
“Adenan could still be CM’s pick, but Adenan is not in the best of health. Tengah is last for one simple reason – he is the most junior,”
“Tengah was an officer under Johari; it was Johari who brought him into politics.”
Adenan was elected to public office in 1979, Johari in 1981, and Tengah, 1987.
While Johari has been all smiles lately, Tengah has been more reserved. Immediately after Taib’s announcement on Saturday, Tengah said he would “support whoever he (Taib) decides”.
Yesterday, he said he was “surprised to be named as one of the potentials”.
“I’m just a small man, so whatever it is, whoever is chosen by Taib, we will support,” Tengah said.
“The most important thing is to carry on all the good things that have been started by the CM. He laid a strong foundation and this needs good teamwork among all leaders.”
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