Chief Minister Sarawak
The Chief Minister of Sarawak is the head of the executive branch of the State Government in Sarawak. The Chief Minister is appointed by the Yang di-Pertua Negeri, Governor of Sarawak, from the state’s Legislative Council.
There have been four Chief Ministers since the office was created in 1963:
1. Datuk Stephen Kalong Ningkan (1963-1966)
Of mixed Chinese and Iban parentage, and eventually (though not originally) a strong supporter of Tunku Abdul Rahman’s proposal of a Malaysian federation, Ningkan formed the Sarawak National Party (SNAP) in 1961 and won enough seats the following year to become Sarawak’s first Chief Minister. He later played an important role in forming Perikatan Sarawak (Sarawak Alliance), a precursor to BN Sarawak. He had seven children and died in 1997.
2. Datuk Penghulu Tawi Sli (1966-1970)
Born in 1912, Tawi Sli was originally a pastor and a government clerk before retiring and entering active politics in 1963, first as a regional secretary of SNAP but later joining Pesaka. He was appointed Sarawak’s second Chief Minister following the 1966 election, and remained in office until 1970.
3. Tun Datuk Patinggi Abdul Rahman Ya'kub (1970-1981)
The son of a fisherman born in the village of Kampung Jepak in 1928, Rahman Ya’kub became the first Bumiputera from Sarawak to graduate as a lawyer in 1958. The first Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman, introduced Rahman Ya’kub to politics, and he served as deputy Lands and Mines Minister and Education Minister in the Malaysian Government before returning to Sarawak to become the Chief Minister in 1970. He changed the medium of instruction in all schools and higher education institutions from English to Malay, and is credited with the creation of the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) in 1970. Later in his term, Rahman Ya’kub was called upon by Tun Abdul Razak, the second Prime Minister of Malaysia, to tackle the communist insurgency in Sarawak, which was successfully ended in 1974 after the Sri Aman operation. In 1981, Rahman Ya’kub resigned his post and became Governor of Sarawak.
4. YAB Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud (1981-present)
Abdul Taib Mahmud, born in 1936, is the nephew of Rahman Ya’kub, and current Chief Minister of Sarawak. From a poor background, Chief Minister Taib studied law at the University of Adelaide, graduating in 1960. He joined the State Legislative Council of Sarawak in 1963 and was appointed to a number of ministerial positions. He represented Parti Bumiputera Sarawak (BUMIPUTERA), a component party of the Sarawak Alliance, in the 1969 Malaysian general election. During the 1970 parliamentary election for Sarawak, Taib was elected as the member of the Malaysian parliament for Kota Samarahan, and remains the second longest-serving parliamentarian in Malaysia. In 1973, Taib became the deputy president of the newly-formed Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu before becoming the president of the party. After winning the Sebandi (now Asajaya) by-election in 1981, Chief Minister Taib was appointed as Sarawak's Land and Mines Minister before succeeding Abdul Rahman Ya'kub as the Chief Minister.