BEIJING: Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi described the death of Tan Sri Adenan Satem as a great loss for Sarawak.
Saying Adenan was "irreplaceable", he hoped that the people of Sarawak would accept the chief minister's death as fate and continue to support the state leadership.
"My family, colleagues and I wish to extend our condolences, especially to Puan Sri Jamilah Anu, his children and family, but also to the people of Sarawak. This is a great loss for Sarawak.
"Personally, I got to know him and family when he was a federal minister (natural resources and environment minister, between 2004 and 2006).
"When I was defence minister, and then home minister, we worked on several programmes in Sarawak, in particular one in which we are trying to strengthen Rela in the state. I intend to continue the programmes we worked on together."
Zahid described Adenan as someone who was, at once, soft-spoken yet firm in his decisions and actions, yet was astute enough to be flexible in adapting to changes and modifying some approaches.
"This, I reckon, benefits not just Sarawakians, but Malaysians as a whole."
Asked if he would cut short his trip here, Zahid said he had spoken to the Sarawak leadership who have insisted that he carry on, adding that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak would represent the federal government in Kuching.