Baru Bian man says Sarawak PKR meet a failure

(FMT) – With a split in Sarawak PKR evident after a disputed state convention held in Miri, a member of the Baru Bian faction has labelled the convention a failure, with less than 500 members attending.

However a member of the organisers, disputing the purported low turnout, said there was only standing room at the convention. “We booked the hall for 800 but 1,500 turned up,” he said. “The rest were standing.”

The convention, opened by PKR president Anwar Ibrahim, was held on instructions from the national leadership after Sarawak PKR chairman Baru Bian had said it should be cancelled.

Speaking to FMT, a party leader aligned to Baru Bian, who declined to be named, claimed that Anwar was unhappy with the outcome of the convention and did not meet or have discussions with any of the event organisers.

“They (the organisers) estimated about 1,500 people would attend but the hall can only cater for 600 people. Less than 500 people attended the event. It was an embarrassment,” he claimed.

Another PKR member alleged that a payment of RM200 each had been made to those who attended.

However, one of the organisers, Miri PKR chief Michael Teo , denied the allegation.

He said that some members had boycotted the event, while others were confused about whether the convention was going to be held, but the number of those who attended was more than they expected.

On Thursday, PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution had announced that the convention would proceed despite the opposition of Baru Bian and other state party leaders.

A member of Bian’s faction told FMT that Anwar had received wrong information from the ground about the cancellation of the convention. He claimed that there was “a gentleman’s agreement in the spirit of the Malaysia Agreement 1963” that all state matters would be decided by the Sarawak PKR leadership council.

He said it was not the first time some people had wanted Bian removed as Sarawak PKR chief.
According to the Bian faction member, Teo and two others – Selangau PKR chief Joshua Jabeng and Julau PKR chairman Larry Sng – had “assisted” the central leadership to organise the convention and tried to “take over” the Sarawak PKR leadership council..

However, Teo said the Sarawak leadership was not authorised to cancel the convention, as it came under the PKR political bureau, the party’s central leadership council, and the president himself.

As for the claim that some wanted Baru removed, Teo said several branch leaders had complained that there had been no “movement in the party’s preparation for the Sarawak state elections, due to be held by 2021.

“He (Baru) had been tasked to prepare Sarawak for the state election but there had been claims that there had been no movement in the PKR branches,” he said.