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Sarawak Chief Minister Adenan Satem, one of the most popular leaders in Malaysia, died at the age of 72 from cardiac failure at the Sarawak Heart Hospital in Kota Samarahan on Wednesday afternoon, after just about three years in office.

Sarawak Local Government Minister Professor Dr. Sim Kui Hian confirmed the news of the chief minister's death. "We have lost a great son of Sarawak who devoted his whole life to the rakyat," Dr. Sim told Malay Mail Online.

Reports said Sarawak will observe seven days of mourning for the late Chief Minister. On Wednesday, Deputy Chief Minister Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg said in a press conference that flags will be flown at half-mast and all official functions will be postponed. He also added that a state funeral will be held for Adenan at Masjid Jamek on Thursday, which has been declared a special state holiday .

"Members of the public can pay their last respects from 10.30 am. The burial will take place after zohor prayers (in the afternoon)," Deputy Chief Minister told The Star Online.

Adenan, who became Sarawak's fifth chief minister on February 28, 2014, led the state Barisan Nasional (BN) to a landslide victory, winning 72 out of 82 state seats in last year's state election.

In March last year, he told Bernama: "Three years ago I was very sick. I was at the National Heart Institute (IJN in Kuala Lumpur) and in Singapore. And there was a time I thought I was going. I called all my relatives, my children and grandchildren."

After receiving the news of Adenan's death, condolences for his wife and family poured in from his colleagues and followers. Prime Minister Najib Razak tweeted: "I've received the sad news that Tan Sri Adenan Satem has passed away. I will go to Sarawak to pay my respects."

"He contributed greatly to Sarawak, Malaysia has lost a leader of integrity. My condolences to the family, may his soul be showered with blessings," Najib added in his tweet.

Youth And Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin posted on Twitter: "Condolences to Puan Sri Jamilah and family and the people of Sarawak over the passing of Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem."

Born on January 27, 1944, Adenan took over the duties from the long-serving Chief Minister Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud, the present state governor. The president of Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) started his political career in 1976 as a committee member and the party's legal adviser.

Later, he contested in elections and won twice, once in the first in a by-election for the Muara Tuang parliamentary constituency, and the second time in the state election in the same constituency.

After the 2004 general election, he became the Member of Parliament for the Batang Sadong constituency and was appointed as the Natural Resources and Environment Minister. However, he relinquished his ministerial post two years after being in office and returned to Sarawak.

He was appointed as Special Adviser to the Chief Minister in 2010 and later in 2011 as Minister with Special Functions.

Adenan's appointment as the Sarawak Chief Minister was also historic. He was the first leader of Malay descent to hold the post. During his administration, he had strongly pushed for state autonomy.