Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Effendi: I’ve retired from politics

Dato Sri Effendi Norwawi
Former Dalat assemblyman has no intention to contest in the Balingian by - election, if one is called

KUCHING: Dato Sri Effendi Norwawi yesterday said he had “absolutely no interest or intention” to contest in Balingian in the event a by-election is called.

The former Dalat assemblyman and former minister in the Prime Minister’s Department said he was now focusing on his business only.

“I have absolutely no interest or intention to be a candidate in Balingian. I have retired from politics, and now my wish is to only focus on my business,” he told The Borneo Post yesterday.

This is the first time Effendi had spoke up after speculations became rife that he might return to active state politics after Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud announced he was stepping down as chief minister last week.

Local and peninsula-based papers were on fire with this speculation.

Balingian is held by Taib, who will step down this coming Feb 28. His successor is Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department (Special Functions) Tan Sri Datuk Amar Adenan Satem.

In the event that Taib is appointed the new Yang di-Pertua Negeri, he would have to vacate his seat in Balingian. Under the election laws, a by-election has to be called if the term of the current State Legislative Assembly still has more than two years to run. In Sarawak’s case, it expires on June 20, 2016.

However, under the State Constitution, a by-election may not be necessary if the next state election is called within the next two years, and this is possible as the chief minister has the prerogative to dissolve the august House earlier.

Effendi said he fully supported the appointment of Adenan as the state’s fifth chief minister.

On Adenan’s disclosure on Saturday that he had called Effendi two days ago, Effendi said the conversation was merely an exchange of pleasantries and to congratulate the chief minister-designate.

“My phone conversation with Tan Sri Adenan was only to congratulate him and to let him know I would be happy to assist him in anyway if he requires it.”

He also noted that Balingian had seen incredible pace of development, adding that the people of Balingian had witnessed how the government truly delivered especially under the tenure of Taib.

“This predominantly Melanau area will be loyal to the government. We can expect BN to win with a very comfortable majority,” he added.

The Adenan Satem that I know…

We were once in the coffee house of a hotel in Kuching. Adenan rather unconsciously and just out of habit took out a cigarette to smoke. He was promptly approached by a very nervous waiter who had to tell him he can’t smoke in that non smoking area. Now Adenan was a State Minister at that time. I wonder how the other ministers would have reacted in that embarrassing situation. But what I saw was classic Adenan.  He gave the waiter a huge smile. Thank her for reminding him and profusely apologised.

Adenan is humble, charming  and intellectually superior (an avid reader, a knowledgeable historian). These are the qualities that have won him respect and support over the years .He will be a respected unifier.

Like all of us in politics we’ve all had our share of setbacks. I’ve seen Adenan in those moments of severe setbacks, like after his defeat in that epic contest against Abang Johari for Deputy President, like the times when he was in a limbo after some misunderstanding with  Pehin Sri Taib.

During all that time he showed true quality and strength of character. He took it in stride with composure and elegance. He remained absolutely loyal to the party and leadership. Adenan is a person who can deal with challenges and pressure with grace. Sarawak will benefit from his cool headed and rational leadership.

I’m proud of my State Sarawak. It is a true indicator of a State’s political maturity where there is smooth transition in leadership when its time to change. Sarawak has shown a great example. I’ve seen Abang Johari’s statement of support for Adenan stating that State and national interest come first before self.

I’m sure Awang Tengah will do the same.

We can all be proud of them. They place the states unity and progress as priority and above themselves. They are a sterling example for other aspiring politicians.

I am a Sarawakian. I love my State. If I’m required to assist in anyway I will certainly step forward. I spoke with Tan Sri Adenan on the night of the announcement of his appointment . It was just to congratulate him and to let him know i would be glad to assist if I am required.   But definitely not as active politician. I have  retired from politics.

Sarawak is blessed to be under the very strong and capable leadership of Pehin Sri Taib for the last 33 years. I worked with Pehin Sri for 15 years. Taib is a very enlightened leader. He has a world of experience on managing development and he is an expert in dealing with all the varying political aspirations and expectation of the so many ethnic groups in the state. He has always been regarded as a just, fair exceptionally wise leader. But most of all I remember Pehin Sri as a great listener. In a conversation with him you will never see him interrupt you until you’ve completed your point. That is rare today.

The  only comment I wish to make on Balingian is, people in Balingian have seen with their own eyes how their area has been transformed with incredible pace of development . They have witnessed how the government has truly delivered especially under the tenure of Pehin Sri Taib. This predominantly Melanau area will be loyal to the government. We can expect  Barisan Nasional (BN) to win with a very comfortable majority.

In my view, this by-election is a very good opportunity for BN to identify a young, capable and credible candidate who can be an addition to the line up of future leaders in the State.

Effendi Norwawi 

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