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Thursday, January 19, 2017

All Adenan’s pledges, efforts will continue, says new CM

KUCHING - Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg affirmed that the state government will continue to pursue autonomy talks with the federal government and will not abandon the initiative set by the late Adenan Satem.

Abang Johari, who was sworn-in last Friday after Adenan’s passing two days prior, also affirmed that Umno would not be allowed to operate within the state.

“As long as I am the chief minister and leader of Sarawak, we will not allow Umno to come in. We will work together within the spirit of Barisan Nasional, but Umno will not be in Sarawak,” Abang Johari told reporters after members of the state cabinet were sworn-in at the state assembly here today.

In the run up to the Sarawak election last May, Adenan had laid down 53 “principles and actions” to safeguard the interests of Sarawak.

In his last state legislative appearance in December, Adenan had said most of the pledges were fulfilled, with several, such as the devolution of power to Sarawak and Petronas’ commitment to the state, being at various levels of negotiations.

“I want to mention here that we will pursue what has been done by the late chief minister. We won the election about eight months ago and we will continue to fulfill the promises made by the late chief minister and we will work as a team,” Abang Johari said.

“I would like to mention here that we would also pursue the devolution of powers. We will negotiate with the federal government, particularly Prime Minister Najib Razak on the rights of Sarawak as mentioned by the late chief minister,” he added.

Abang Johari said that he was “very fortunate” to be in the main committee that was already in the process of negotiating the devolution of power.

“We will contribute what has been negotiated on various subjects within the context of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 as well as the federal constitution.

“All of us here also pledge to protect the rights of Sarawak and to pursue what has been promised in the last election,” he said, referring to various members of the state cabinet that were present during the press conference.

Asked if the state government would still pursue the 20% oil royalty for Sarawak, Abang Johari said, “Yes, as a basis for us to negotiate. But not necessary we may achieve 20%, it depends.”

He also reaffirmed that the state government would continue to pursue the Native Customary Right (NCR) land issues following the Federal Court ruling last December that “pemakai menoa” (territorial domain) and “pulau galau” (communal forest reserve) have no force of law in Sarawak.

“Yes I will do so, because the late chief minister had requested that the Dayak leaders discuss among themselves and present it to him,” Abang Johari said.

State cabinet largely unchanged, no third DCM
Meanwhile, the state cabinet line-up remained unchanged from the one preceding it, except for Abang Johari taking over the finance and economic planning portfolio.

As of today, Abang Johari has direct authority over five state ministries: finance and economic planning, resource and planning, and housing and urbanisation, and tourism, arts and culture.

Besides that, a third deputy chief minister post remains vacant after Abang Johari was appointed to the chief minister’s office.

Adenan had appointed three deputy chief ministers after the May election – Douglas Uggah Embas and Abang Johari, who are senior vice-president and deputy president of Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), respectively, and James Jemut Masing, who is president of Dayak-based Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS).

“Basically, there are no changes in the line of the cabinet for the time being,” Abang Johari said.

Asked when or if a new deputy chief minister would be appointed, he said, “I will concentrate on what has been done by the late chief minister. Give me time. I will reshuffle the (state) cabinet when the time comes.”

As for the Tanjung Datu state seat, which has been vacated following the death of Adenan, Abang Johari said a candidate has yet to be finalised.

“We just finished our mourning period. I will let you know,” he said.

“The criteria is that as long as the people accept him or her. Besides that, the candidate must be winnable,” he added.

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