Former Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Sarawak chairman Baru Bian today announced that he has joined Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB), a state-based opposition party.
Speaking at a press conference held at PSB headquarters here, he said there are several reasons for him to join the party, with the two main ones being insufficient time to register a new party before the next state election and at the same time, he did not want further split the people of Sarawak by forming a new party.
“We will reinforce our belief that a new party is not necessary after discovering PSB’s aspirations dovetail with ours as laid out in my vision of hope for a new Sarawak,” he said.
Another former PKR Sarawak leader who followed his footsteps was Batu Lintang state assemblyman See Chee How and almost 80 percent of ex-PKR grassroots leaders and branch chairmen in the state would be joining PSB soon.
Meanwhile, PSB president Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh who was also present at the press conference said the party had a series of discussions with Baru over the past few months focusing primarily on the way forward for them to bring real change to Sarawak and to make a meaningful difference in the lives of its people.
“In our discussions, we discovered that we have common aspirations for the future Sarawak. Baru’s visions and hopes encapsulate our party’s objectives of making Sarawak a truly multi-racial society in which all Sarawakians are given equal opportunities to live and to prosper,” he added.
PSB sits in opposition in Parliament and Baru’s addition swells the party’s ranks in the Dewan Rakyat to two, joining Sri Aman MP Masir Kujat.
Baru’s change in status means the opposition still has 109 MPs.
See was sacked from PKR last month amid allegations of collaborating with other parties to undermine the party leadership.
With See’s entry into PSB, the party now counts six assemblymen among its ranks.
PSB, which splintered from the Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) in 2014, was never a member of GPS although Wong was previously in the state cabinet.
Following Wong’s resignation from the cabinet last year, PSB is now an independent party and no longer GPS-friendly.
Asked on if Saratok M Ali Biju and Puncak Borneo MP Willie Mongin will be joining him and See in PSB, Baru said he has held several talks with two who are now the deputy ministers in the Perikatan Nasional (PN) federal government.
“I have reasoned it to them (to join PSB). They are politically matured enough to make decisions for themselves.
“Probably, you (reporters) have to ask them what is their stand, but I have shared with them of our mission and vision,” he said.
Ali, Willie and Baru were among MPs who left PKR before the collapse of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) federal government in February this year.
Asked about rivals’ calling him a “katak” (frog) for jumping from one party to another in his political career, he said the word has been used loosely of late on politicians who switched sides.
He explained PKR leaders have deviated from pursuing the original mission and vision of the party, adding that he and his supporters have no other choice, but to leave.
“You will be silly to stay with them. When that happens and when you leave, they call you katak.
“That is a good katak. So, don’t use that katak very loosely. An intelligent katak will jump, a stupid katak will stay. We need to be wise and prudent, even in our political struggle,” he said.
Baru said he went with former PKR deputy president Datuk Seri Azmin Ali because he appeared to be a good leader who could bring changes, deliver promises and so on.
“But at the end of the day, you look at the choices he made. You know that I Ieft the (Azmin’s) group in the last minutes because what they decided was not what I believe in, going together and teaming up with Umno and PAS,” he said.