KUCHING, Feb 21 ― Former Head of State Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud has passed away at the age of 87.

His daughter Datuk Hanifah Hajjar Taib’s private secretary Nurr Shaffique Abdul Karim confirmed that the former governor breathed his last at a private hospital in Kuala Lumpur at around 4.40am this morning.


“Hanifah Hajar’s beloved father, Tun Abdul Taib, returned to his Creator at about 4.40am today. The remains will be taken to the National Mosque, Kuala Lumpur, and then brought back to Kuching, Sarawak,” she said in a post on Hanifah Hajar’s social media site this morning.


Taib’s body is expected to arrive in Kuching at around 3pm.

Taib served for three terms as Sarawak governor from March 1, 2014, until January 26 this year, when Tun Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar succeeded him.

He was also Sarawak’s longest-serving chief minister from 1981 to 2014.

From humble beginnings, Taib ― born in Miri on May 21, 1936 to carpenter Mahmud Abang Yahya and Hamidah Yakub ― started his schooling at St Joseph’s Primary School in Miri before proceeding to St Joseph’s Secondary School in Kuching.

He excelled in his Senior Cambridge examination, and furthered his studies under a Colombo Plan Scholarship at University of Adelaide in South Australia where he read law.

There, he met and later married Polish-born Lejla Chaleck ― who later adopted the name Laila Taib ― in 1959. Laila passed away at age 68 in 2009.

Taib returned to Sarawak to enter politics in 1963 and, at the age of 27, was one of Sarawak’s first six cabinet ministers led by then chief minister Tan Sri Stephen Kalong Ningkan, holding portfolios such as communication and works minister, and development and forestry minister.

His federal career took off when he became Samarahan MP in 1969, and he went on to hold several portfolios including works, post and communication deputy minister; deputy minister in the prime minister’s department; primary industries minister; and defence minister.

The turning point in Sarawak’s history came in March of 1981 when Taib was sworn in as the fourth chief minister, taking over from his uncle Tun Abdul Rahmah Yakub.

His Politics of Development policy paved the way for the state to go from being an economic backwater to the powerhouse that it is today, delivering development and prosperity to the people. Up until his retirement as chief minister on February 28, 2014, Taib had blazed the trail of development and progress for Sarawak, leaving the state a much better place for all.

Taib and Laila’s marriage saw the couple blessed with four children ― Jamilah, Datuk Seri Mahmud Abu Bekir, Datuk Seri Sulaiman Abdul Rahman, and Datuk Hanifah Hajar ― and 15 grandchildren.

Following Laila’s passing, Taib remarried on December 18, 2010 to Toh Puan Datuk Patinggi Raghad Kurdi and welcomed her two children into the family.

Taib’s contribution to Sarawak’s growth is best summed up by his successor as chief minister, the late Pehin Sri Adenan Satem, who described him as a ‘one in a million’ leader. ― Borneo Post