MIRI: Premier Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg said Sarawak will wait for the last respects to be accorded to Senator Datuk Mutang Tagal before discussing the appointment of the next Senate President.

He said he would discuss the matter with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim only after this was done.

“We will first pay our respects to the late Senator, and then we will discuss the position,” he said when approached by reporters after paying his last respects to the late Mutang here today.

Mutang, the former Bukit Mas MP (1982-1990), was appointed as the 20th president of the Dewan Negara on Feb 19, replacing Tun Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, who relinquished the post following his appointment as the Sarawak Governor.

He died at the National Heart Institute (IJN) in Kuala Lumpur at 11.46 am on Friday, aged 69.

“Unfortunately, he served for a relatively short period. He was suffering from heart disease,” Abang Johari said, while also adding that surgery could not be performed on the Mutang on Thursday as his condition was deemed not ready for surgery at that time.

Mutang was admitted to IJN shortly after arriving from Azerbaijan on May 6, following a working visit that started on April 29 and returning earlier than scheduled.

The Senate president had led a Malaysian delegation to attend the World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue held from May 1 to 3 in Baku.

Abang Johari said the Sarawak government mourned the passing of a prominent figure from Sarawak who contributed significantly to the region and Malaysia.

The Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) president said although no longer an elected representative, Mutang continued to contribute towards strengthening PBB and Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS).

“On behalf of the Sarawak government and our cabinet colleagues, we offer our condolences to the late Mutang’s family and hope they remain patient during this time,” he said.

Mutang’s remains were flown back to Miri from the Subang Air Base on a Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) aircraft at 8 am.

Upon touchdown at Miri Airport, his body, accompanied by police escorts, arrived at the Borneo Evangelical Mission (BEM) Airport Road Church at 11.20 am for the people to pay their final respects.

Besides Abang Johari and wife Puan Sri Juma’ani Tun Tuanku Bujang, Deputy Premier Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas and wife Datin Doreen Mayang were among other leaders from Sarawak who paid their final respects.

The late Mutang’s body will be taken to BEM Canada Hill Church at 9 am tomorrow for the funeral service before burial at the SIB Lambir cemetery.