New Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari sworn in

KUCHING (BERNAMA, THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Sarawak sworn in its new Chief Minister on Friday (Jan 13) to replace the popular Adenan Satem, who died suddenly of a heart attack on Wednesday.

Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg, 66, attired in a black baju Melayu, took his oath of office as the sixth Chief Minister of Sarawak before Yang Dipertua Negeri Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud at the Astana, the official residence of the Head of State, here at 4.10pm. 

The event was witnessed by Abang Johari's wife Datin Amar Jumaani Tuanku Bujang, members of the state cabinet, state assemblymen and senior civil servants. 

Abang Johari, or Abang Jo as he is fondly known, was one of the three deputy chief ministers under Adenan's administration. The two others are Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah and Tan Sri Dr James Masing. 

Abang Jo's two current portfolios are state Housing and Urbanisation Minister as well as state Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister.

As one of Sarawak's three deputy chief ministers and deputy president of Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu (PBB) - Sarawak's biggest political party which is a member of the Barisan Nasional ruling coalition, Abang was seen as a natural succesor to Adenan.

PBB senior vice-president Awang Tengah Ali Hasan said earlier on Friday Abang Johari had the party's backing to take the job.

"We all support Abang Jo," Awang Tengah told reporters after leaving Governor Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud's residence at Demak Jaya. Senior PBB and state Barisan Nasional leaders met Taib on Friday morning to discuss the succession.

Pressed to confirm that Abang Johari "will be the sixth chief minister," Awang Tengah said "to wait for the swearing-in ceremony."

"Our party PBB will support him. You will be notified when the swearing-in (ceremony) will take place," Awang Tengah added.

Tan Sri Adenan passed away only eight months after helping BN to clinch a resounding victory in the Sarawak State Assembly elections, winning 72 out of 82 seats.

He had been widely expected to bring in votes for the next general election.