KOTA KINABALU: The sudden death of Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem came as a shock to many in neighbouring Sabah as they looked at him as a champion of state rights for the two east Malaysian states.
Always held in high regard for a firm stand for better deals for Sarawak and, by extension Sabah, under the Malaysia Agreement, both Sabah Barisan Nasional and Opposition leaders looked at him as a "Borneo hero”.
His outspoken and strong stand on many issues won the hearts of Sabahans, who often shared his sentiments on state rights.
“Very sad, he was a true Borneon (sic) fighting till his last breath,” Sabahan Rozza Rothman, a businesswoman and entertainer posted on her Facebook page.
“The spirit of Adenan must go on,” Yu Tian Long, another Sabahan, posted on Facebook as confirmation of Adenan's death broke nationwide on Wednesday afternoon.
Former Petagas assemblyman Datuk James Ligunjang said he had total admiration for Adenan.
“He was a tenacious leader in safeguarding the interest of his beloved state Sarawak. May his soul be blessed in the arms of the Creator. He will be dearly missed by Sarawakians and Sabahans,” Ligunjang said.
"Adenan's death will be a great loss to Sarawak and those who admire him in Sabah,’’ he added.
Opposition Warisan Sabah deputy president and Penampang MP Darell Leiking said Adenan was a force to be reckoned with.
“We had our different political ideologies, he was the only Barisan Chief Minister who showed us in Borneo that we’re a force to be reckoned with when Borneo people - especially frontline leaders in government - exert their rights under the Malaysia Agreement,” he added.
Lawyer Roland Cheng described Adenan as "a breath of fresh air".
"It is sad that he did not live long enough to see fruition on what he intended to achieve,” he added.
Sabah leaders including, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman, are scheduled to attend Adenan’s funeral Thursday.
Adenan died from a heart-related ailments at the Kota Samarahan Heart Centre Wednesday.
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