LAWAS, Oct 31 — The death of Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing is a major loss to the state, said Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg
Expressing his sadness over the death, Abang Johari said the passing of Masing had a big impact on him.
He said Masing had made immense contributions to Sarawak, including during his tenure in the current state Cabinet.
“He was a partner in this government who contributed a lot to the state administration. I am deeply saddened by his passing. It’s a big loss to me as a friend. My condolences to his family,” said Abang Johari, who was visibly choking with emotion.
Masing had played an instrumental role in the rural development of Sarawak, especially for the Dayak community, he told reporters after launching the Sarawak Linking Urban, Rural and Nation (SALURAN-MYSRBN) programme in Kampung Tengah in Trusan here today.
Abang Johari said Masing was a leader close to the people and who was very serious about championing their well-being.
Masing died at the Normah Sarawak Medical Centre (NSMC) in Petra Jaya, near Kuching, at about 7.05 am today at the age of 72.
News of his death was confirmed by Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) secretary-general Datuk Janang Bungsu when contacted by Bernama.
Masing leaves behind his wife Puan Sri Corrine Masing and two children.
The PRS president was admitted to the intensive care unit of Sarawak General Hospital (SGH) in September after testing positive for COVID-19, before he was transferred to NSMC for further treatment.
Masing, an eight-term state assemblyman for Baleh since 1983, entered active politics by joining the now defunct Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS) and then set up PRS in 2004 together with several other leaders.
He joined the state Cabinet as Tourism Minister in 1996 before going on to hold three other portfolios. He was appointed Deputy Chief Minister II on Jan 23, 2017.