The year 2017 is coming to an end. As the sun sets on the last day of the calendar year, DayakDaily recaps some of the important moments and major events for Sarawakians which ocurred over the past 12 months, for recollection and reflection.
Another year will soon to be in the history books, and may we all learn to be wiser, from what has happened within Sarawak, a state which we all love, cherish and hope to see progress.
The Passing of Tok Nan
Jan 11, 2017 was a dark day of sorrow and grief for all Sarawakians.
At 1.25pm, unexpected news that pained the people of Sarawak broke. Beloved Chief Minister Pehin Sri Adenan Satem passed away due to heart complications at the age of 72, at the Sarawak Heart Centre in Kota Samarahan. He was given a state funeral and was buried at Samariang Muslim cemetery.
Less than three years as a chief minister, Adenan, whom many preferred to call Tok Nan, had brought about more than 50 new initiatives which aimed to benefit the people of Sarawak. Among the new initiatives were the fight for state rights, abolishment of all tolls in Sarawak, lowering of assessment rates and the eradication of illegal logging.
Even though the next day Jan 12 was declared a public holiday and a seven-day mourning period was observed in remembrance of the great statesman, until now, Sarawakians still miss the presence of this refined and well-cultured, wise and just chief minister who had nothing but the interests of the people in his heart.
Abang Johari, the new Chief Minister
Two days later after the passing of Adenan, Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg was appointed to succeed Adenan and sworn in as the new chief minister on Jan 13, 2017.
Abang Johari, who was seen working closely with Adenan during the latter’s short tenure as chief minister, has followed in Adenan’s footsteps in many ways.
He continues to uphold all the initiatives which were started by Adenan but at the same time, announced that although he might share many visions of his predecessor, he is still his own man.
Within less than a year after taking up the chief minister’s post, Abang Johari revealed his plan to bring Sarawak to new heights with the vision of transforming the state into a digital economy.
He materialised at least four major milestone transformative measures including Sarawak Pay, Sarawak’s own digital payment system; the Development Bank of Sarawak; Sarawak’s own oil and gas company Petroleum Sarawak Bhd (Petros) and the acquisition of the Bakun HEP Dam from the federal government.
Jamilah wins Tanjung Datu by-election
The demise of Tok Nan who at the time was the Tanjong Datu assemblyman brought about a by-election which was called on Feb 28, 2017.
State Barisan Nasional fielded Tok Nan’s widow Datuk Amar Jamilah Anu as its candidate.
In a three-cornered fight, Jamilah who was still in “eddah” (mourning period) won the Tanjong Datu by-election with a landslide victory, garnering 6,443 majority votes, which was even higher than Tok Nan’s majority of 5,892 votes during the May 2016 state election.
Jamilah managed to poll a total of 6,573 votes over her opponents State Reform Party (STAR) candidate Johnny Aput who garnered 108 and Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak Baru (PBDS Baru) candidate Rapelson Richard Hamit with 130 votes.
Both opposition candidates subsequently lost their deposits.
Sungai Aup chicken wings episode
On Mar 30, 2017, a very strange incident happened in Sungi Aup, Sibu.
Trucks full of tens of thousands of boxes of chicken wings were seen coming in and dumping these chicken wings to be buried in an open space along the road to Rantau Panjang.
The news travelled through the local communities with many people coming to dig out the chicken wings and bringing them back.
Panic stoked the whole town of Sibu, with fears that some of these buried chicken wings might somehow end up in the market or eateries.
In April, about 20 trucks and excavators appeared at the scene. The chicken wings were dug out and transported to Kemunyang Sanitary Landfill, which put the strange episode to an end.
According to the then acting Sarawak Customs director Ahmad Zainudin Drahman, the chicken wings were seized by the Customs Department at the Rajang Port on Feb 3.
They were disposed on Mar 30 and 31 because they were imported without permit.
The chicken wings weighed 81,500 kg with a customs value of RM543,706 and duty import of RM108,742.
Rabies claims five lives
Sarawak was declared a rabies-infected state in July following an outbreak of rabies cases, starting from Serian district.
On July 1, 2017, three patients from Serian including two young siblings were confirmed to be infected by rabies.
The third victim, Alicesa Lorenna Nody, 7, from Kampung Lebor, Serian died on July 13.
The rabies claimed another life on July 17; Florancesia Edward, 5, who was bitten at Kampung Seroban, Serian.
The fifth victim was a 52-year-old man from Kampung Remun, Serian, who passed away on June 23.
While many were thinking that finally, the rabies outbreak was over, three more cases were reported recently.
World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF)
Sarawak had the honour of organising the 13th WIEF from Nov 21-23, at Borneo Convention Centre Kuching.
Themed “Disruptive Change: Impact and Challenges”, the forum brought together leading global government leaders, captains of industry, academicians, regional experts, professionals, policy makers, business leaders and investors from around the world, and featured 40 speakers from across the globe.
Among the renowned international speakers were Indonesia President Joko Widodo and Apple Inc co-founder Steve Wozniak, while from Malaysia, the speakers included Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, Abang Johari and AirAsia Group CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandez.
A total of 16 memorandums of understanding (MoUs) worth USD2.5 billion were inked at the WIEF while other collaborations were mooted.
Prince Charles visits Kuching
The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall visited Kuching on Nov 6, fuelling a flurry of interest in the social media feeds of Kuchingites.
Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, arrived at Kuching International Airport at around 1.30 pm on a British Royal Air Force aircraft.
They visited Sarawak Culture Village where the prince had a 15-minute private dialogue session with six community leaders from the Bidayuh, Iban, Orang Ulu, Melanau, Malay and Chinese communities.
After SCV, Charles toured Semenggoh Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre and Sarawak Biodiversity Centre while Camilla proceeded to the Old Court House in the city to meet representatives of non-governmental organisation Purple Lily.
Peaceful protest at Old Court House
A peaceful rally was held at the Old Court House in Kuching on Nov 13, to protest against the native customary rights (NCR) land policies currently in place.
It drew the participation of various associations and organisations across the social spectrum and the state, including opposition political parties.
The event started with a “miring” (appeasement ritual) ceremony at 7.30 am, followed by a “bebiau” session.
A crowd of 3,000 turned up at the event’s peak time of 10am. Participants brought banners with wording such as “Bill Kayong, you will not die in vain”, “Dayak die defending NCR lands”, “Land is our Life”, “Stop land grab now”, “Return to us our NCR land now” and so on.
The protestors, mainly from the Dayak community, hoped that through the rally, they have made known their wish to the government, that “pemakai menoa” and “pulau galau” would be recognised as NCR land. — DayakDaily