Wong (right) is seen with Taib and then deputy chief minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Alfred Jabu in February 2014.

KUCHING (Feb 21): Former head of state Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud left an indelible mark on the state’s history and development, said Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh.

In a press statement, the Bawang Assan assemblyman called Taib, who was Sarawak’s longest-serving chief minister for 33 years from 1981, a uniting factor.

Wong said Taib forged for Sarawak, a united and harmonious society where people could live happily together irrespective of race, religion, and culture.

“He often emphasised that while pursuing material progress, we should not lose sight of the need to forge unity and harmony among your people.

“He also often reminded us that we must think carefully and intelligently about our future and about the common destiny we share together,” said the Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) president.

He stressed that Taib prepared the ground for Sarawak’s industrial development by setting up the Sarawak Corridor of Renewal Energy (SCORE).

Taib also set up training institutes, colleges, and universities for manpower requirements, notably Kolej Laila Taib, University of Technology Sarawak, Swinburne University of Technology, and Curtin University Malaysia, which are all state funded.

He added that Taib often went for rural-biased development, allocating 60 to 70 per cent of the annual budget for infrastructure development, particularly in the rural areas.

Wong added Taib was so prudent in financial management that when he stepped down as chief minister in 2014, he left behind a formidable sum in the State Reserve Fund.

“The passing of Tun Taib will mark the conclusion of a memorable era, but the memories remain. We can find no better words to express our gratitude than to say ‘Thank you’ to him for having devoted the whole of his life to the people of Sarawak,” said Wong, who was a former state Cabinet minister overseeing finance and economy.