KUCHING, March 6 — Non-Sarawakians have no right to tell Sarawak what the word ‘Premier’, which replaces the title of ‘chief minister’, should be translated as in Chinese, said Kuching South Mayor Datuk Wee Hong Seng.

“Other people outside Sarawak have no right to tell us what to call our Premier. If you look at the translation for Premier across the globe, it is Zong Li.

“The term Zong Du is translated as governor in English, and what Sarawak gazetted is Premier. Outsiders should not interfere in this as we know what to translate for our Premier,” he said when met by journalists after attending a function here today.

Wee said it did not matter what non-Sarawakians wanted since Sarawak has more pertinent business to focus on — regaining the state’s autonomy within the context of Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).


He said he could not comprehend why some quarters needed to spend time on an argument or two over the translated term for Premier.

“Why are we wasting time on this argument (of whether Zong Li or Zong Du)? Singapore is using Zong Li, so is China, and Sarawak is agreeable to it (Zong Li).”

He said the argument on which translated term to use would not help Sarawak regain its autonomous power as enshrined in the MA63.


To a question, Wee said the Sarawak government could consider introducing a gazette on the Chinese translation for Premier to address the matter once and for all.

“There are more important things to do. Sarawak has the autonomy to decide what to call our Premier (in Chinese), use that now,” he added.

The Sarawak Federation of Chinese Associations (SFCA) and the Chinese Language Standardisation Council of Malaysia have recently debated over the proper translation for Premier.

The former is adamant that Zong Li is a more appropriate translation for the word but the latter has insisted on Zong Du.

SFCA says Zong Du could bring about confusion as the term had elements of colonialism, while the council claims that Zong Li could be taken to mean that the state is ‘a country within a country’.

The council said in a statement on Tuesday that Premier should be translated as Zong Du to respect the constitutional monarchy in Malaysia, adding that the term Zong Li was used for the top leader of some nations.

On Wednesday, SFCA had said it did not agree with Premier being translated as Zong Du as it is literally translated as governor in Chinese and could bring about confusion and reflect elements of colonialism.

“The term Zong Li is to reflect ‘a region within a country’ which is in line with the spirit of MA63,” SFCA added.

It is learnt that the state is setting up a committee with local Chinese leaders to resolve the issue.

On Thursday, the State Public Information Unit (Ukas) released a table infographic detailing the new official titles to be used in Sarawak effective this month.

The infographic did not carry any Chinese translation for Premier of Sarawak.

The change of title from chief minister to Premier took effect on March 1, after the Constitution of the State of Sarawak (Amendment) Ordinance 2022 was gazetted. — Borneo Post