PKR convention: Honour gentlemen’s agreement over state autonomy, national leaders told

Baru Bian

KUCHING, Nov 20: Sarawak Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) chief Baru Bian has hit back at the party’s national leaders for breaking their “gentlemen’s agreement” over the autonomy of state matters.

The Selangau MP reiterated the decision of the state leadership council (MPN) of Sarawak to cancel the PKR Youth Convention slated in Miri on Nov 23, which arrived through a consensus of the majority MPN members and not just the sole opinion of the council.

“Our position remains unchanged. Contrary to what was stated by other national leaders, we wish to reiterate that the decision taken by MPN Sarawak to cancel the convention was and continues to be a majority decision,” he said in a press statement.

Baru expressed disappointment with the Keadilan national leaders who have dishonoured their “gentlemen’s agreement”, that Keadilan Sarawak and Keadilan Sabah enjoy autonomy in all state matters.

“A state convention comes under the purview of the state but the decision by headquarters to proceed with the convention blatantly ignores the wishes of the majority of the state MPN and breaches the autonomy agreement,” he added.

He pointed out that the MPN consisted of 46 members, out of which 32 members reached consensus to cancel the convention.

“This is a clear majority. The 32 MPN members who make up our majority consist of four MPs, three ADUNs (state lawmakers), 17 divisional heads, five deputy divisional heads and nine state party leaders.

“Only 11 divisional heads, two of whom are MPs and two Youth leaders are not in agreement with our consensus. One remains impartial,” he explained.

He added that of the 11 divisional heads opposing the cancellation, three of their respective deputies had agreed with the stand taken by the MPN Sarawak.

Clarifying that their collective statement was in no way intended to be a threat, Baru said that they were genuinely dismayed and disturbed by recent events that have betrayed the party’s principles of justice and democracy.

“As much as other national leaders wish to portray the narrative that the retracting of the invitation to officiate at the Youth Convention was merely a move away from tradition, we must remind everyone that 21 out of 25 elected Youth leaders had opposed the retraction.

“Yet, this was ignored in favour of appointed Youth leaders, not elected Youth leaders.

“We want to state clearly, that this is not a threat but merely a need for our top leaders to resolve the party’s crisis and take into serious consideration the voice of elected members who represent grassroot party members,” he continued.

Meanwhile, Sarawak’s PKR state leadership recently butted heads with the party’s top national leaders over PKR deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali’s rescinded invitation to officiate the PKR Youth National Convention slated for Dec 6.

A statement on Nov 15, signed by Baru and seven others including national vice-president Ali Biju, said that unless “democracy is returned to the party”, the convention would be cancelled.

However, PKR National Convention director Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad refuted this, saying that the convention would go as planned in Miri this Saturday.

Another PKR group also said the convention would proceed because a statement had been signed by a majority of the division leaders calling for the event.

On Nov 12, PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution was alleged to have retracted the invitation to Azmin to officiate the PKR Youth National Convention, despite an invitation letter being sent out by PKR Youth.

The Youth national convention will now be officiated by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who is also advisor to the PKR central leadership council. — DayakDaily