By Allan Jay & Nur Ashikin Louis
KUCHING: Many came to Kuching Waterfront last night to commemorate the third anniversary of the late Pehin Sri Adenan Satem’s passing.
He was Sarawak’s fifth chief minister and a leader very much loved and respected by the people.
Even after his passing, Sarawakians still remember him as ‘Tok Nan’. They would reminisce, fondly remembering him as a firm yet humble man of great calibre, with a clear vision for the Land of the Hornbills.
Last night, the special vigil to remember and honour the late Tok Nan was organised by Sarawak for Sarawakians (S4S) and Kuching Traditional Handicraft Studies Society.
Kuching Chung Hua Middle Schools No 1, 3 and 4 board of management chairman Datuk Richard Wee, when interviewed last night, said, “We will truly remember and respect him for giving out financial assistance to our independent Chinese schools and for recognising the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC).
“We will also remember him for laying the foundation for our current Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg to continue what he has done in his brief time as the fifth chief minister.”
Meanwhile, State Reform Party (STAR) president Lina Soo, who was also present, said that Tok Nan would always be remembered in the hearts of Sarawakians as a leader who left a legacy that no other politician has done.
She noted that one of the most famous contributions of Tok Nan was his fight to exert Sarawak’s rights which made the federal government fear him.
“He opened not only the eyes of the Sarawakians, but also the eyes of Malayan people.
“Even the then Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak came over to the state so often during Tok Nan’s time,” she said.
Among other contributions included the abolishing of toll, recognising the Chinese community as well as the declaration of July 22 as Sarawak’s Independence Day.
“Don’t ever change any wording of the state’s gazette. Even if today we are not independent and sovereign, but we consider that Tok Nan was pre-emptive and declared it in advance and one day, we may be able to do so.
“That is his greatest legacy to us,” she continued.
Organising chairman Bong Shak Sin told reporters that the vigil night was held annually without any difference — candle lightings at the custom-made Tok Nan shrine at Kuching Waterfront.
“We (S4S) hope that Sarawakians will follow what the late Tok Nan wants us to do as a loving community in Sarawak.
“My thoughts on Tok Nan as the former chief minister — he and the current one (Abang Johari) are both doing well for the state. But it’s a loss because he left us too soon, I hope everyone will continue to remember him,” he said.
The simple yet special event that started from 6.30pm to 10pm had attracted Kuchingites from all races to light a candle to remember and honour him.
There was no formality, just S4S members lighting up candles that spelled out ‘Beloved Tok Nan’.
Tok Nan was sworn in as Sarawak’s fifth chief minister on February 28, 2014.
During his brief tenure, he contributed tremendously to the state’s development, forming policies that were important to the people.
One of the most significant efforts was fighting for Sarawak’s autonomy and the rights of its people as he spearheaded the process to regain what rightly belongs to the state.
As his famous quote goes, “Ini Sarawak punya olang, bisi Melayu, bisi orang Cina, bisi orang Dayak, bisi orang Bidayuh, duduk sama, minum sama, makan sama, carik amoi pun sama.” (This is Sarawak’s people — there are Malays, Chinese, Dayak, Bidayuh — sitting together, drinking together, eating together, even finding partners together.)
Adenan was born in Kuching in 1944. Before embarking on his political journey, he had worked as a journalist and a teacher prior to his pursue in law studies at the University of Adelaide, Australia.