PKR Sarawak leaders in show of unity. Seated from left are See, Ali, Mansor, Baru and Dr Michael Teo.
KUCHING: The recent resignations by PKR leaders in Sabah has not affected the party in Sarawak, as evidenced by the presence of the party’s all three assemblymen and sole MP at the PKR Sarawak Leadership Council meeting yesterday morning.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, PKR Sarawak chairman and Ba Kelalan assemblyman Baru Bian seemed uninterested to talk about the defections in Sabah and instead spoke more about the party’s preparation for the coming 14th general election.
Baru said yesterday’s meeting was also attended by PKR leaders from the national main body including supreme council member Datuk Mansor Othman to enable the party to ‘strategise their move and preparation in the light of the special condition and status of Sarawak’.
“The special position of Sarawak, issues that are special to Sarawak, and challenges faced in Sarawak are quite unique. So we have conveyed to our leaders present here to be brought over to Kuala Lumpur.
“You know in Sabah and Sarawak, we have special sentiments regarding our rights in the Malaysia Agreement 1963. Our struggle is unique, our challenge in the state is totally different from Sabah and Peninsular, as we are the only state without Umno.
“The national leaders agreed to look at Sarawak in a different light and special position,” he said.
Joining him at the press conference were the PKR Sarawak vice chairmen, Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How and Krian assemblyman Ali Biju and treasurer Miri MP Dr Michael Teo.
Baru also said PKR Sarawak has been instructed to submit name of candidates for the 14th GE by the end of the month, probably in anticipation of snap polls.
“We learn from lessons in 13th GE, identify the weaknesses and areas where we need to iron out. We have been asked to submit name of candidates by end of the month. We have been asking the branches to get ready,” he said.
He did not foresee any problems with other Pakatan Harapan partners DAP and Amanah in the distribution of the 31 parliamentary seats in Sarawak, because there is no new seats unlike the recent state election which had 11 new seats.
The last general election in 2013 under Pakatan Rakyat pact saw PKR contesting in 15 seats but winning only one, DAP contesting 11 seats and won five while PAS five seats and lost all.
“We start with status quo, and see the practicality of the whole thing. We’ve learned from the previous election and we need to focus,” he said, alluding to the recent state election where BN won 72 out of the 82 seats while DAP and PKR fought each other in six seats.
He also said PKR Sarawak has been asked to start the negotiations with Pakatan Harapan partners as soon as possible.
On challenges faced by PKR Sarawak, he said these included having issues raised by the party and fellow opposition parties being picked up instead by BN particularly Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem.
He said these issues included asking for higher oil and gas royalty for Sarawak and for English to be retained as an official language in Sarawak, all of which have been picked up by Adenan.
He was also surprised that Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Jemut Masing is now talking more about ‘pemakai menoa’ and ‘pulau galau’, which are native customary land-related categories often raised by PKR in a bid to have the State Land Code amended.
“People seem to forget that we were the ones we raised these issues first,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mansor said the PKR main body had full confidence in its leaders in Sarawak and give full support to them.
“We are not going to undermine what leaders in Sarawak say. We certainly give thought to what had been decided here,” he said.