Thursday, February 6, 2014

Taib’s ‘no show’ fuels further rumours

KUCHING: Chief Minister Taib Mahmud’s non appearance at the State Land Development and Protection (Pelita) gala dinner here last night has further fueled speculations of his impending successor.

Taib was last night represented by the Second Minister of Resource Planning and Environment Awang Tengah Ali Hassan.
Members of the media were waiting for Taib to comment on the rumoured reports that he will be stepping down this month.

Awang Tengah meanwhile declined to comment on speculations of his candidacy for the state’s top post.
Meanwhile Sarawak as is Putrajaya is avidly waiting for signs from Taib.
This weekend’s scheduled meeting between Taib and his PBB leaders including assemblyman will hopefully offer firm indications.
Yesterday  Sarawak Assistant Youth Development Minister Karim Rahman Hamzah reportedly said of the weekend meeting that “ there must be something important Taib wants to convey”.
“It could be an ordinary  meeting  or could be for something more important.”
Karim said that the ‘mood’ within the party was for Taib to stay on as a ‘senior advisor’ to the state. This will be much in the style of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew.
“Even after he steps down we will still need the Chief Minister to play a key role.  The chief minister has contributed tremendously to the development of the state.
“We have seen a lot of changes in the urban and rural areas, such as Samarahan, Mukah and Tanjung Manis.
“It is clear that his heart is with Sarawak,” Karim said.
Who will it be?

As to who Taib’s successor will be, Karim speculated that it would be “someone who would carry on his (Taib) vision.. and from within PBB”.

Waiting in the wings are Awang Tengah, Tourism Minister Abang Johari Openg and Special Functions Minister Adenan Satem.
Satem was brought back into the state cabinet after the 2011 state election. Many have since speculated that he is a frontrunner.
All three are PBB super senior officials.
Sources have told FMT in the past that Taib is well aware that among them are ‘Umno-leaning’ leaders and supporters.
“He (Taib) is is only a question of the degree (of leaning). Sarawak has no interest in Umno … (and he is) making this known.”
Speculation that Taib is preparing to step down became intense last December after nonagenarian Tun Abang Muhammad Salahuddin Abang Barieng’s tenure as head of state was extended only until Feb 28. Rumours are rife that Taib would assume responsibility as the new head of state after that.
In April 2011, during the run-up to the state election, Taib announced that he would retire in ‘two or three years’, and that he might leave ‘mid-term’, without stating any precise dates.
Taib, who is Sarawak BN chairman, has  on numerous occasions mentioned that he had already equipped and groomed a capable leader to guide PBB and Sarawak.
PBB, the backbone of the Sarawak state government, is the second strongest party among the BN components after Umno.
This is measured in terms of number of seats, following the results of the 13th General Election. The Sarawak based party controls 14 parliamentary and 35 state seats.

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