KUCHING: Petra Jaya Member of Parliament Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof created history as the first Malaysian from Sarawak, one of the East Malaysian states in Malaysia, ever appointed as Deputy Prime Minister.
Fadillah was born in a Malay village in Sibu in central Sarawak. He is the son of the late Yusof Merais, the man who fought side by side with Rosli Dhoby in resisting Sarawak's surrender to the British in 1946.
For the late Yusof, it was a struggle between life and death for the nation but for Fadillah the struggle is definitely more than that.
The next stage of the struggle is to ensure that Sarawak remains on the right track in line with the formation of Malaysia in 1963 to become part of a developed nation through the thinking of the new leadership.
After graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Law from Universiti Malaya in 1986, Fadillah entered politics as a means for the advancement of Malaysia and Sarawak.
His foray into politics started as a Youth Wing member in Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu Sarawak (PBB). It is here that Fadillah exhibited his excellent leadership prowess which led him to be chosen as the Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate to defend the Petra Jaya parliamentary seat in the 10th general election in 2004 for the party.
He won the seat comfortably, winning with a five-digit majority securing 12,816 votes - a majority which eventually became the benchmark for the future success of the party in the subsequent general elections.
In GE11, his majority increased to 14,397 votes and the big wins continued until GE15 which he considered the most challenging election yet he managed to secure a 41,363-vote majority.
By now, Fadillah’s popularity was not just limited to Petra Jaya. The Federal leadership began to take notice which then led to him being appointed as the Deputy Science, Technology and Innovation Minister in 2008.
Following his success in retaining his Petra Jaya seat in GE13, Fadillah was promoted to full minister to helm the Works Ministry in 2013.
The appointment brought new challenges to Fadillah when a year later the Sarawak political landscape changed following the appointment of the late Tan Sri Adenan Satem as the new chief minister.
Adenan wanted change to happen fast, especially in terms of infrastructure development.
Sensing the people of Sarawak and also Sabah desperately wanted a sophisticated infrastructure system that the people in the peninsula enjoyed, Adenan applied for a highway project later known as the Pan Borneo Highway.
The Pan Borneo Highway project kicked off in 2015 after an agreement was reached with the Federal government and despite the political uncertainties between 2018 and early 2020, the project was able to proceed.
Despite being ‘dropped’ from the Federal Cabinet for almost two years, Fadillah who was the Works Minister before, continued to take the lead in completing the project.
Of Sarawak's portion of the Pan Borneo Highway project, almost 90 per cent has been completed and it is expected that the people will enjoy it by next year.
For sure, the success of the project will definitely be the foundation for Fadillah to climb up the party leadership hierarchy uninterrupted.
He is now the senior vice-president of the party which is the backbone of the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) in his continued struggle to fight for the welfare of the people.
With this new trust placed on him by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim who also named him as Plantations and Commodities Minister, Fadillah is certainly able to uphold that responsibility as he has shown over the years.
The faith put in him by the 10th Prime Minister, and his ability also reinforces the confidence given by the other three previous Prime Ministers in Fadillah in continuing to lead Malaysia towards greater success. - Bernama