Speaking Of Asia

Under Abang Jo, Sarawak is asserting its personality - one move at a time

The state in Borneo and its leader are quietly making headway in advancing Sarawak's interests by leveraging its electoral power in federal politics.

Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg, or Abang Jo, heads the government in the East Malaysian state of Sarawak. ST PHOTO: FELINE LIM
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Careful chroniclers of South-east Asian transitions may have noticed a small event that took place in Sarawak's Kota Samarahan in early March, when the Chapel of the Sacred Heart was inaugurated within the compound of the Sarawak Heart Centre, a government facility.

Score one for Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg, current head of government in the East Malaysian state, whose Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) coalition was returned with a landslide 76 of 82 seats in state assembly elections held last December. The result was an improvement from the previous state election in Malaysia's only non-Muslim majority state, when the GPS coalition, then under the Barisan Nasional banner, got 72 seats.

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