Abang Jo popularises Sarawak Malay phrases

Sarawak Premier Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg (File pix)
13/06/2022 06:58 PM

By Hamdan Ismail

KUCHING, June 13 (Bernama) – Two Sarawak Malay phrases have been making the rounds on social media in this Land of the Hornbills over the past month or so, following their use by Sarawak Premier Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg at events he had attended.

One of the phrases is ‘sik berasa’, which loosely translates into English as ‘didn’t feel it’, while the other is ‘ketek ajak’, which means ‘just click’.

Abang Johari has used these phrases when he talked about how time passed so fast.

“Baruk ari marek ari Jemat, ari tok dah Jemat agik dah ... sik berasa (It is just like yesterday was Friday and today it’s Friday again ... didn’t feel it),” he had said at an event, and since then ‘sik berasa’ had gone viral on social media.

Abang Johari kept using the phrase ‘sik berasa’ when delivering speeches off the cuff at subsequent events. This led other Sarawak leaders to repeat the phrase, besides memes and WhatsApp stickers being created, among others.

Despite the phrase being played up in a satirical context on social media, Abang Johari has accepted it in good spirits. 

“Ada orang nak viralkan saya makei sik berasa, pakailah sik berasa. Bagus juak (Some people want to viral ‘sik berasa’ that I uttered on social media; go ahead and use it. It’s good anyway),” he said at a recent event in Kuching.

‘Sik berasa’ and ‘ketek ajak’ are a kind of political phenomenon in Sarawak now, said political communication expert Dr Jeniri Amir, who observed that this could have come straight from the heart of a leader who had not thought of resting on his laurels in serving the people.

According to the senior fellow of the National Professors Council, ever since the huge victory of Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) in the 12th state election last December, Abang Johari had continued to crisscross the length and breadth of Sarawak to ensure the election pledges are fulfilled.

“He explains to the people the state government’s aspirations and policies in simple, common people language, in Sarawak Malay, off the cuff, and that is when the words ‘sik berasa’ and ‘ketek ajak’ came about,” he told Bernama.

Jeniri said the usage of the common Sarawak Malay language had endeared Abang Johari to the people, thus enhancing his image and reputation, as this approach had not only shown the people’s reaction to him as a leader but also their understanding of his statements and initiatives.

“’Ketek ajak’ also carries a message of his intention to drive Sarawak’s development via the digital economy that he has been promoting so much since taking over the leadership of the state,” he said.