Research Chair reflects late Adenan’s passion for arts, culture and music

The presentation of the mock cheque for the Chair from Abdul Karim (left) to UPM Associate Prof Dr Shahrul Razid Sarbini witnessed by Abang Johari (centre). Photo credit: Sarawak Public Communications Unit (Ukas)

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By Ling Hui and Karen Bong

KUCHING, Oct 27: The late Pehin Sri Adenan Satem was extremely passionate about arts, culture and music, so much so that he even formed a band called ‘Vagabond’ during his younger days in which he was the lead singer in the style of Elvis Presley.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg shared that he and Adenan came from the same village where their parents’ houses were only a stone’s throw away from each other.


“In the kampung, we all mixed together. The late Adenan during his younger days was very passionate about arts, culture and music. So he together with my brother formed a band called the ‘Vagabond’.

“My brother played the rhythm guitar while Adenan was Sarawak’s Elvis Presley. He really can sing all the Elvis Presley songs,” he said during his opening address at the 2nd International Conference on Social Sciences and Humanities 2021 and Exchange of Memorandum of Agreement between Sarawak government and Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) on the Pehin Sri Adenan Satem Chair at a hotel here today.

Other than music, Abang Johari revealed, Adenan was a bookworm and has a passionate interest in the national parks and their flora and fauna.

“Secondly, he liked books. He was widely read and you will never see him without books as he even read while fishing.

“Before he went to Australia, he had contributed a lot of writings with his usual spot at the archive of the Museum. He had also contributed many articles to the Sarawak Gazette.

“He was also very passionate about the national parks. You just mentioned any national park, he will know. That was Adenan — doing research, widely read and sharing with the rest,” he added.

Abang Johari addressing the audience at the 2nd International Conference on Social Sciences and Humanities 2021. Photo credit: Sarawak Public Communications Unit (Ukas)

With all these reflecting how much Adenan really loved Sarawak, Abang Johari reminded the people of Adenan’s advice: “If not Sarawakians, who else will take care of Sarawak. So let Sarawakians take care of Sarawak.”

As Adenan’s successor, Abang Johari pledged to continue with his predecessor’s legacy including in arts and culture which led to the setting up of the Pehin Sri Adenan Satem Chair with State government funding of RM2.542 million.

With 27 ethnic groups and 45 dialects spoken by the people of Sarawak, Abang Jo emphasised that this cultural diversity provides vast resources for research activities, particularly on culture, language, traditional practices, performing arts and ways of life.

“Although the Sarawak government is in pursuit of developing a digital economy, the important aspects of our local culture must be preserved and promoted. Research will certainly help to bring to the fore the richness of Sarawak’s cultural diversity and strengthen our cultural identity,” he emphasised.

The Sarawak government hopes that with the establishment of the Chair, the UPM Bintulu Campus will become a centre of research for Borneo ethnicities in Sarawak, focusing on cultural, linguistic and socio-economic elements.

“I believe this research chair will serve as a hub for collecting data on cultural heritage and treasures from diverse ethnic groups in Sarawak and Borneo, which otherwise would be abandoned and forgotten.

“I hope this will continue because we want the younger generations to know where they come from, their background and what they can contribute to the country,” he added.

At the event, Abang Johari witnessed the exchange of Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) documents between the State government represented by Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Dato Sri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah and UPM by its Deputy Vice Chancellor Prof Dr BT Hang Tuah Baharuddin concerning the creation of the Pehin Sri Adenan Satem Chair.

Assistant Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Sebastian Ting, the ministry’s permanent secretary Hii Chang Kee, Minister of Higher Education Datuk Seri Dr Noraini Ahmad and Tanjung Datu assemblywoman Datuk Amar Jamilah Anu who is the wife of the late Adenan were among those present. — DayakDaily