KUCHING: Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) president and long-serving Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud is expected to lead the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) in the Sarawak state election but relinquish his government and party posts after the polls.
Party sources close to the top leadership also revealed that Taib, who had helmed the state since 1981, has hand-picked former Natural Resources and Environment Federal Minister Adenan Satem as his successor.
"The matter was revealed to the party supreme council at its meeting on Sunday. All the supreme council members have sworn to keep the matter a secret until the time is right for an announcement to be made," a source told FMT.
Most supreme council members in the meeting, the source said feel that Taib should lead the BN at the next state election as they are worried that his premature departure could destablise PBB as well as reduce support for the coalition.
Sources also said Taib had personally briefed the party supreme council members on Sunday on his succession plan, where he mentioned that Adenan would take the helm as chief minister after the state polls.
No clue on Balingian seat
"However, Taib never mentioned if he would defend his Balingian state seat at the election but he agreed to lead the state BN into the election," the source said.
None of the supreme council members were willing to comment on the matter except to declare their undivided support for Taib to lead the state and the party for the time being.
In the past, Taib had eyed a number of PBB leaders as "potentials" to take over from him and they included the late Dr Sulaiman Daud, Effendi Norwawi, Bujang Ulis, Abang Abu Bakar Mustapha and also Adenan.
However, almost all of them had disappeared into political oblivion, for a number of reasons. Some were said to be impatient, while others just gave up waiting.
In 2006, Taib had hinted that this would be his last term as chief minister and the term comes to an end in June next year. As early as last year, Taib sent a signal that he was preparing to step down. He was reported to be looking for someone regardless of race to be trained to take over from him.
Talk of Taib preparing to pass the baton picked up momentum in April last year after the demise of his wife, Laila Taib, who had been described as the pillar of support in Taib's long and often controversial political career.
A clearer picture emerged recently when Taib openly said that he was ready to leave his postions if PBB and Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, who is also the BN chief, wanted him to do so.
Taib, 74, has helmed PBB since March 26, 1981, a period of about 29 years.
Adenan appointment sent the signals
Party sources said there was already an indication that Adenan, the state assemblyman for Tanjung Datu, would be the likely successor when he was made special adviser in Chief Minister's Office responsible for public affairs effective April 2 this year.
He was accorded full ministerial status and qualified to receive privileges equivalent to a minister.
The appointment of Adenan as special adviser to Taib stoked speculation in the state that he would be the man to fill Taib's shoes as PBB head and Sarawak chief minister.
He was once tipped to replace Taib, but fell out of favour with the chief minister in 2006 and had been laying low since.
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