21/02/2024 12:03 PM

KUCHING, 21 Feb  (Bernama) -- The passing of former Sarawak Governor Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud is a great loss for Sarawak and the country.

The prominent politician in the Land of the Hornbills who was named the Father of Modern Sarawak died early today at the age of 87 in a hospital in Kuala Lumpur.

His contributions to Sarawak's development and modernisation have left an indelible mark on the state's history.

As the architect of the state's modernisation, Abdul Taib's legacy will be remembered for generations to come. His leadership as Chief Minister for over three decades saw Sarawak through various challenges and transitions, shaping its trajectory from the 1980s into the 21st century.

The Miri-born, Adelaide-trained lawyer had been on Sarawak’s political scene since the formation of Malaysia in 1963.

His leadership as Chief Minister for over three decades saw Sarawak through various challenges and transitions, navigating the challenges of the 80s into the 21st century.

Born on May 21, 1936, Abdul Taib received his primary education at St. Joseph in Miri and then to St Joseph in Kuching for his secondary education.

 Abdul Taib's 61 years of service in government administration and politics started when he was appointed Sarawak Minister of Communications and Public Works in the first state cabinet led by then Chief Minister Tan Sri Stephen Kalong Ningkan in 1963.


Entering politics at a young age showcased his readiness to tackle challenges for the betterment of Sarawak, particularly during a period marked by communist threats and confrontations from neighbouring Indonesia.

Transitioning to the federal level after winning the Samarahan parliamentary seat in 1969 broadened his horizons and provided invaluable experience.

His tenure in various key ministerial positions, including Minister of Primary Industries (1972), Minister of General Planning and Socio-Economic Research (1974), Minister of Defence (1978) and Minister of Federal Territories (1980) demonstrated his versatility and capability in handling diverse portfolios.

In 1981,  Abdul Taib stepped down as the Federal Territory Minister to contest in the Sebandi state by-election, which he won uncontested, and was appointed Sarawak Land and Mineral Minister, before replacing his uncle,  Tun Abdul Rahman Ya'kub as the fourth Sarawak Chief Minister on March 26, 1981. 

As the key figure leading the Sarawak state government for 33 years, Abdul Taib introduced various development agendas aimed at bringing progress to the relatively underdeveloped state at that time.

Among his efforts to stimulate economic activities in Sarawak was the establishment of Industrial Zones in Samajaya, Demak Laut, Samalaju, and Tanjung Manis which created job opportunities for the local population.

Under his administration, the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) was also established to drive the development of renewable energy sources such as hydroelectric power in the state.

The Batang Ai dam, Sarawak’s first hydroelectric plant with a capacity of 108 megawatts (MW), commenced operations in 1985, followed by the Bakun dam (2,400MW) in 2011 and the Murum dam (944MW) in 2014.

Abdul Taib’s administration also witnessed the establishment of new administrative divisions such as in Mukah, Betong, and Samarahan, alongside the construction of community halls in all major towns in Sarawak to meet the social needs of the population.

 In addition to physical development, human capital development was also a priority for Abdul Taib by ensuring that the youth of Sarawak received quality and high-level education and this witnessed the establishment of institutions such as the Universiti Teknologi Sarawak (UTS), Sarawak campus Universiti Teknologi Swinburne and Curtin University, alongside the establishment of Sarawak's first public university, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS).

 Abdul Taib's journey as the Chief Minister of Sarawak concluded when he resigned on Feb 28, 2014, and was succeeded by Tan Sri Adenan Satem.

After nearly 33 years of serving as Chief Minister, Abdul Taib was appointed as the seventh Yang di-Pertua Negeri of Sarawak, replacing Tun Abang Muhammad Salahuddin Abang Barieng, on March 1, 2014.

He was Sarawak Governor for nearly 10 years when replaced by Tun Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar who was sworn in as the Yang Dipertua Negeri last Jan  29.

Despite facing various sentiments regarding his legacy as an administrator, Abdul Taib continued to dedicate himself to his homeland until his final days, and all his sacrifices have been inscribed in the modern history of the Land of the Hornbills.

His passing marks the end of an era, but his impact on Sarawak's development will endure through the memories and achievements he left behind.