Baru’s win in Selangau signals change in Sarawak politics

Selangau elected MP Baru Bian greeting voters in Selangau.

Commentary

Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) pulled a massive upset yesterday when its Selangau candidate Baru Bian won the Selangau seat, a stronghold of Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS).

Baru managed to beat PRS candidate Rita Insol with a majority of 486 votes, by garnering 11,228 votes, while Rita received 10,742 votes in Selangau, a constituency consisting of 95 per cent Iban voters.

It is really something that is beyond the imagination of all political observers or the political journalists in Sarawak. It came like an earthquake, shaking everyone to the core.

Baru, a Lun Bawang who was parachuted in from Ba’Kelalan in Northern Sarawak, a place about 720km away, had managed to convince voters of Selangau, a semi-rural seat in Central Sarawak, to give him the mandate to represent them for the next five years.


And due to a last minute decision to join the fray in Selangau, Baru did not even have time to go to many longhouses. Even in the constituency, Baru did not put up many of his portrait posters.

For him to score this win over Rita, who had been moving on the ground since 14 months prior to polling, covering a minimum of 80 per cent of Selangau Constituency, it showed that many voters so wanted change that they were willing to vote for someone whom they did not even know or met before.

Baru’s victory is not only about him being elected as a parliamentarian but it has much deeper political implications.

Firstly, it means that voters in Sarawak are not only ready to look beyond race and locality but are willing to render their trust to anyone whom may not be from their area, know their language or a part of their ethnic community.

Baru’s win will change political practices in Sarawak. He has set the precedent that it is not necessary to have a local to be the candidate of a particular area. For a change as drastic as this to happen in Selangau, the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate or the present BN policy or way of doing things must have been so bad or so wrong.

Some quarters identified the previous MP, Datuk Joseph Entulu, as a factor who has contributed to such anti-BN sentiment in Selangau. According to them, Entulu did not spend his allocated Minor Rural Project funds amounting to RM3 million for Selangau and the fiasco of his private secretary being detained for corruption was also cited. To them, should Entulu contest in Selangau, he would have suffered a greater loss than Rita. This is of course just hearsay.

Baru has also proven that Sarawakian rural voters are intelligent enough to make their own choice, not as presumed by others that they are easily manipulated.

Baru’s win also shows that Sarawak is heading towards a new political dawn and a future that rural voters cannot be taken for granted anymore.

Selangau is the result of a rakyat tsunami which was initiated by none other than the rakyat themselves. — DayakDaily