KUCHING: The teleconference between Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud on Wednesday evening became interesting after Najib gave encouragement for Taib to find a spouse. He also offered his help if Taib agreed.
"With the permission from Allah, I hope that not long later, there will be a woman in your life.
"Should assistance be needed, the Federal Government is most willing to help," said Najib in a jovial mood.
Najib's match-making offer caused a big round of laughter and applause from those present, including Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Alfred Jabu, Minister of Environment and Public Health Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh and Minister in the Chief Minister's Department Datin Fatimah Abdullah, as well as other women leaders.
The teleconference was held in Taib's residence in conjunction with the national-level 1Malaysia Women's Day.
It was carried out in a light manner and the position of women in the state was discussed.
Taib's wife, Puan Sri Laila Taib, died of lung cancer on April 29 last year. She was 68.
Najib praised Taib for recognising the role of women.
"It has been under you that a lady has been appointed as a full minister in the state government," he said.
In response, Taib explained that women had been contributing to nation building even when Sarawak was under colonial rule.
"Our appreciation of women's contribution has been shown by the appointment of Datin Fatimah as a full minister."
He said Fatimah was entrusted with children's education and developing women entrepreneurs.
"We have done this for five years and so much so, we can now claim to follow the footsteps of Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, who has been advocating education for all children," he said.