Police Gagged Baru Bian – Exclusive video!

By Sarawak Report

The Chief Minister, Taib Mahmud clearly has no intention of allowing the democratic process to get in the way of his election chances.  Sarawak Report has obtained exclusive video material showing how police were sent in to prevent the opposition PKR leader Baru Bian from addressing a peaceful gathering of people from his own constituency.  We have also learnt that Taib has sent out a disgraceful directive instructing police to deny permits for any opposition gatherings!

The incident happened in Baru’slocal main town of Lawas.  An invited gathering of party members and constituents had joined him at the Sin Yang coffee shop to take food and listen to his vision of a better future.  These key constituents wanted to listen to his messages and ideas in order to bring them back to their own communities and longhouses.  PKR party workers had, as usual, applied for a permit for the sit-down gathering, but as usual the permit had been denied.

“The police just said no.  They gave no reason” explained Paul Bian, Baru’s Campaign Coordinator

Our orders are from the Top!

PKR officials say they felt they had no choice but to proceed with the meeting.  “By refusing us a permit they were interfering in our democratic rights” continued Paul, who is Baru’s brother and a long-term political ally of the human rights lawyer. He went on:

“Our rights have been denied.  This is a democratic country and everyone has a right to give their opinions and a right to meet together and give the information that we can’t give to the people any other way.  We in the opposition are not given any media coverage”

Peaceful and seated gathering, soon to be disrupted by police who feared to let Bian speak

Baru Bian, who has shaken Taib’s authority on numerous occasions over the past two years by winning a series of crucial land rights cases on behalf of communities fighting against the Chief Minister’s land grabs, only just missed out on winning the seat at the last election in 2006, despite enormous odds.  At that time Bian started legal proceedings which detailed a long list of corrupt practices used by BN to win the seat by just 200 votes.  These included bribery and vote-rigging.  Taib-controlled judges, of course, immediately dropped the case on the excuse of ’ legal technicalities’.

PKR rightfully believe that Bian should have the absolute freedom to speak to his people, who are from his native area.  They say the fact that Taib is resorting to such dirty tactics and abusing the authority of the police at such an early stage in the election is a sure sign that he is fearful that opinion in Sarawak has turned firmly against his authoritarian government. His 30 years in power have brought great wealth to his family, but only poverty for the longhouse people, whose lands he has taken for timber and oil palm.

Peaceful gathering was threatened by police provocation

Witnesses say that the guests to the event started arriving at around 7 oclock in the evening and sat down to enjoy some initial refreshments.  Many of the several hundred people who turned out to listen to Baru Bian had travelled very long distances from the longhouses.  It had been raining all day and the journey in some cases took several hours, but they had been undeterred.  According to one report received by Sarawak Reports, some poorer people, who had come the day before, had had to sleep out in the open.