BINTULU: The greatest success of Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud in his 28 years of service to Sarawak as its Chief Minister is perhaps in being the glue that binds the state Barisan Nasional (BN).
Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) president Dato Sri Dr James Masing believes that planning for development was half of the chief minister’s job, the other half was in keeping the coalition working as a unit.
“Of the two functions of the chief minister, the later, I feel is the hardest.
“This is where you (Taib) are a cut above the rest. The last 28 years was not an easy one,” he said at the celebration of Taib’s anniversary in office here last night.
Representing state BN leaders in his speech, Masing said the demands and needs of political parties required more than just Taib’s patience and understanding; it required analytical skills to identify priorities and tackle problems accordingly.
“Not only do you have to analyse each problem critically; you have to know the source of the problem and who are causing it,” said Masing, who is Land Development Minister.
Attempting to interpret Taib’s vision and leadership in a nutshell, Masing conceded that the political arena was a playground of rumours, and within its borders, perceptions could grow wings and fly and are assumed to be the truth.
In this respect, he said: “In a world of half truths and half lies, we the politicians have to assume the role of conjurors who are expected to find the truth in the muck thrown at us, and we are expected by the public to smell like roses and maintain our sanity.
“Ladies and gentlemen, you can ask any of the party leaders just how difficult it is to keep both our sanity and smell clean after solving the problems of the public.”
Having said that, he pointed out that with Taib’s guidance, the state BN leaders had emerged from the muck on strong footing.
Masing added that in his short term as the leader of a political party, he had tasted the burden of leadership and not only has he been criticised for things he had done but also things he had not done.
And through Taib’s stewardship, he said he and his colleagues had learned to be patient and forgiving and to soldier on with the tasks that they were sworn to take.
Dwelling further on the challenges faced by Taib, Masing confessed to being one of those people who had given the Chief Minister a hard time as the state BN chairman.
“Pehin Sri, in spite of all the half truths and half lies, and some criticisms that are down right lies, you have carried the burden of leadership with pride and you have kept the coalition going despite the challenges you were and are made to face.
“Some of these challenges are man-made - and I was one of those who made them at one stage - while others are natural disasters.
“To avoid the dangers of these political pitfalls and come out shining is not an easy task. You have done it, sir, with flying colours,” said Masing.
Earlier, Masing also said that everyone should understand the vision and mission of the Chief Minister for the sake of continuity in the development of the state.
“In knowing what he is trying to do, in understanding what he has in mind for us and for the next generation of Sarawak, we will be in a better position to implement his work.
“And for those of you who are much younger and are being considered as the second echelon leaders, you would be in a better frame of mind to continue his work when the time comes for you to take over the mantle of leadership,” he said.