KOTA KINABALU – The country, particularly Sabah, today lost an eminent figure with the death of Tun Sakaran Dandai (picture), who strived to improve the socio-economic and educational level of the Sabah people, as well as promoted Islam in the state.
Sakaran, 91, who was the eighth Yang Dipertua Negeri of Sabah, died at Gleaneagles Hospital here at 5.30 am due to COVID-19.
His deeds would not be forgotten by the people of Sabah, especially in Semporna , with the opening of the Pulau Semporna, Mentaritip Pegagau and Lihak-Lihak land development schemes, which helped to improve the socio-economy of the people there.
Born on April 15, 1930, in Kampung Air, Semporna, Sakaran served as the Yang Dipertua Negeri of Sabah from Jan 1, 1995 until Dec 31, 2002. He was also appointed the eighth Chief Minister of Sabah in 1994.
He received his early education at Sekolah Melayu Semporna and then to the Government Vernacular School, also in Semporna, and started work in the public service as a Native Clerk at the Semporna District Office on Aug 31, 1948.
He was appointed the first chancellor of Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) and in 2004, conferred an honorary doctorate in management by the university.
In 2008, he was named the Sabah Tokoh Maal Hijrah and named the recipient of the national-level Tokoh Maal Hijrah in 2017
In 1960, he was appointed Ketua Anak Negeri, the youngest person to be appointed to the post then, and focused on education, as only 35 per cent of children at school-going age was sent to school at that time.
He was also responsible for opening of Sekolah Rakyat in Sabah, prior to his retirement from the public service in 1967.
On his involvement in non-governmental organisations (NGOs), he was the president of Pertubuhan Islam Seluruh Sabah and founded Yayasan SABDI.
In politics, Sakaran was deputy president of United Sabah National Organisation (USNO) in 1986 and Sabah UMNO Liaison Committee chairman in 1993.
He was Semporna Assemblyman in 1976 and a Silam Member of Parliament after winning the seat in 1978. In 1985, he contested for the Sulabayan state seat and won, and retained the seat for eight terms.
Sakaran had also served in the state cabinet since 1971, serving various portfolios, including Culture, Arts and Tourism; Agriculture and Fisheries and Land and Cooperative Development.
On March 17, 1994, he was sworn in as Sabah Chief Minister and on Jan 1, 1995 appointed as the eighth Yang Dipertua Negeri of Sabah and held the post until Dec 31, 2002.