Wednesday, July 3, 2013
Taib Mahmud has been chief minister for 32 years
Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, 77, has hinted many times over the past few years that he may be stepping down soon.
But MPs from his Parti Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu (PBB) believe it may not be anytime in the near future and he will only step down when he decides on his successor.
"He has been indicating he wants to leave. It's a matter of time. He has said he's grooming successors," said Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Nancy Shukri.
The Batang Sadong MP, however, told The Star Online that Taib could serve for another three years, until the Sarawak state elections were held.
During the 2011 Sarawak state elections, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said Taib and him had reached an understanding when a transition of power would take place.
Najib said he and Taib knew the right time to make a change in Sarawak.
"We know, and I can assure you the Chief Minister is ready. We have a very good understanding as to when that will happen," the Prime Minister was reported as saying.
In April 2011, Taib also told reporters that he would retire in "two or three" years' time, saying that he might leave "mid-term".
With no specific dates given as to when the PBB president will give up his chief ministership - which he has held for 32 years - the talk now is he will serve the full term of office.
His supporters claimed that after the strong performance of PBB in the 13th general election with Sarawak contributing 25 seats (out of 31 in the state) to Barisan Nasional, Taib held the upper hand in deciding when he will go.
This has not stopped speculation who will be Taib’s successor if he steps down.
According to Kapit MP Datuk Alexander Nanta Linggi, several names have been touted as possible candidates for Sarawak's next Chief Minister.
"(Former senator) Datuk Seri Effendi Norwawi, (PBB senior vice-president) Datuk Amar Awang Tengah, PBB deputy presidents Datuk Amar Abang Johari and (Deputy Chief Minister) Tan Sri Alfred Jabu Numpang are all likely options," said Linggi, who is Regional and Rural Development Deputy Minister.
"But only Taib himself know when he wants to leave, he has dropped hints but there's no need for anyone to hurry him off,” he said.
"Thanks to his wisdom, he's been instrumental in the development of Sarawak. He has vision. He will decide when he wants to go."
Nancy echoed this, saying that Sarawak was not an easy state to develop due to its geographical nature.
"He has done a lot for the state regardless of what people say. Just a few years ago you couldn't see a Bumiputra driving a Mercedes or involved in business.
"He's taken care of rural areas - it's just not seen as swift because it's been very systematic and well-planned. The Chief Minister keeps quiet and does his work well," she said.
Critics have hurled numerous allegations of corruption against Taib, who is also Balingian assemblyman, but he has remained unshaken by it and has managed to win elections convincingly.
Recently, following the publicised allegations against his family, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) stated that investigations were on-going.
Sibu MP Oscar Ling from DAP urged Barisan to make good on the mid-term promise for Taib to step down, saying that it was time for him to quit in the wake of the many allegations of wrongdoing.
"He should step down and he should cooperate with the MACC. It's been two years already. The Prime Minister should explain why there is still no successor to Taib."
Stampin MP Justin Tan of DAP said Taib should "keep his word".