TAN Sri Adenan Satem was a strong advocate of sports - long before he even became the Chief Minister of the state.
Many former and present sports personalities from the state say the Sarawak Chief Minister did not only play a significant role in the development of sports, but was a kind hearted and generous man.
Former national sprint king and “flying Dayak” Watson Nyambek says he will never forget the assistance rendered to him by Adenan, who bailed him out of his financial difficulties last September.
“I have known Tan Sri Adenan from my days as a sprinter when he was in charge of the Youth and Sports portfolio. He helped me a lot in my time of need as I was unable to settle my bank loan ... Tan Sri Adenan came forward to assist me.”
The state government settled his outstanding loan of RM80,000 to a bank. Watson had taken a loan to help pay for the medical expenses of his cancer-stricken father but was unable to settle it.
Then came more help, thanks to Adenan.
Watson, the country’s best known sprinter in the 90s’, was given a house in Miri. Adenan handed over the mock key for the RM350,000 house to Watson, who 18 years ago became the fastest man in Malaysia in the 100m sprint.
Watson said he was elated to have the loan and housing burden lifted from his shoulders.
“I will always be grateful to the Chief Minister and the state government. I am thankful because this is the first time in so many years that the government has given me any reward.”
Sarawak football legend Awang Mahyan said Adenan had always provided moral support to the team.
Awang, known for his famous “Ngap Sayot” battle cry to whip up the state football team’s challenge in the M-League in the 90s, said Adenan was a strong supporter and would never miss their home matches in Kuching.
“Yes, we were a feared force in Malaysian football, then. Tan Sri Adenan played a leading role to assist us in terms of financial support and incentives. He would raise funds and hand it to me to pass to the players. And he used to join us for home and away matches.
“I remember he even wrote a poem of the ‘Ngap-Sayot” football team. He has not only a good friend but a very kind man, too,” said Awang.
Olympian and Sarawak’s diving queen Pandelela Rinong was shocked by the sad news.
“It is heartbreaking to all and of course to me. He was loved by all Sarawakians. I am honoured to have the Sarawak Aquatic Centre in Petra Jaya renamed after me during his time. My deepest condolences to his family,” said Pandelela.
The Sarawak Aquatic Centre was renamed Pandelela Rinong Aquatic Centre last Sept in honour of the national diving queen’s Rio Olympics achievement.
Pandelela became Sarawak’s first athlete to win medals in the Olympics. She was rewarded with RM1.3mil in incentives from the state government and two private companies. for her historic achievement.
The latest sporting success in the state was the hosting of the 18th Malaysian Games (Sukma) last July.
Sarawak did not win the overall champions title as Adenan had hoped for but ever the sportsman, he said he was heartened that the team had finished second, losing by just two gold medals. Still, Sarawak was a huge winner with its superb organisation and hospitality.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Adenan were among the crowd of more than 40,000 to witness the curtains coming down on the Games.
Sadly, it was Adenan’s last public function in sports.