KUCHING, Jan 11 ― Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg today described former Sarawak State Assembly Speaker the late Tan Sri Celestine Ujang Jilan as a firm and fair leader when he helmed the Youth wing of Parti Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu (PBB).
“I personally and the rest of us had the privilege of working under him when he was the leader of the Youth wing,” he told reporters after paying his last respects to the late Ujang at his residence at Tabuan Jaya here this afternoon.
Apart from Abang Johari, other current PBB leaders who served under Ujang in the Youth wing include Deputy Chief Ministers Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas and Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan.
Ujang was PBB Youth leader from 1974 to 1998 while Abang Johari, Uggah and Awang Tengah were the vice heads.
Ujang, 71, died about 7.48pm last night at a private hospital due to acute diabetes and renal failure.
Abang Johari, who became chief minister on January 13, 2017 after the demise of Tan Sri Adenan Satem two days earlier, said Ujang valued unity in Barisan Nasional.
He said in 1981, Ujang willingly stepped down as the minister of culture, youth and sports to pave the way for a component party of the Barisan Nasional to put in its representative in the state cabinet.
“When PBB was facing crisis in 1987, he was one of the leaders who remained loyal to PBB and government while many other party’s elected representatives crossed over to the opposition,” Abang Johari said.
He described Ujang as a personal friend since the days they came to know each other in the 1970s.
Ujang was made a full minister after winning the Kemena seat in the 1974 election.
He had held the Kemena seat until he stepped down in 2001. He was the Sarawak State Assembly Speaker from 1981 to 1987.