Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, 74, has married a Lebanese woman whose age has been reported by some news media to be 28. But conflicting reports from other media put the bride’s age to be the early 30s.
The wedding ceremony, which took place last night, was a closely guarded affair.
The akad nikah started at about 8pm at the chief minister’s residence, Demak Jaya, in Petra Jaya, Kuching. Family members, relatives, close friends of the couple and several members of the state cabinet were present.
It was solemnised by Sarawak Mufti Kipli Yassin at about 9.30 pm, followed by a short bersanding session.
Among the 200 guests attending the ceremony were Adviser to the Chief Minister’s Office Tan Sri Adenan Satem, Second Planning and Resource Management State Minister Datuk Awang Tengah Ali Hassan, Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department Naroden Majais, Housing and Urban Development Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg and Pantai Damai state assemblyman Dr Abdul Rahman Junaidi.
The chief minister’s press secretary, Amin Sahmat, said last night that the wedding was a private affair, adding that an announcement would be made later. He also said a wedding reception would be held next month.
Not much is known about the bride but sources said she was a former flight attendant.
Taib has been single since the death of his wife, Puan Sri Laila, in April last year. They had been married since 1959 and have four children.
Sarawak has been abuzz over the wedding of Malaysia’s longest-serving chief minister. Taib has been the Chief Minister of Sarawak since 1981. He assumed the post at the age of 45. He is widely known among the Chinese community by his nickname of Peh Mo (meaning white hair in Hokkien).
Apparently, on Friday, Taib visited the grave of his late Polish-born Australian wife Puan Sri Laila, who died of cancer in April last year. The couple was married for 50 years after they met while studying in Australia. They have four children and 15 grandchildren.
Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan gave credence to the marriage talk earlier yesterday when he told reporters in Miri: “There is a great possibility that the rumour is true.”
Dr Chan is also an in-law to Taib. Tan Sri Sulaiman, Taib’s son, is married to Dr Chan’s daughter Anisa.
Green, Technology and Water Minister Datuk Peter Chin Fah Kui said: “It is time for him to remarry. It is not good to be alone, especially a busy person like him. If this rumour is true I am very happy for him.
“It is good to have a woman’s support,’’ he added.
Inevitably, Taib’s marriage to a woman so much younger than him has led to sniggers that another Sarawak minister has joined the ranks of “Old Cow Eats Tender Grass”….in this case, tender Lebanese grass.