Defiant Baru ready for disciplinary action for cancelling Sarawak PKR convention

(Seated, centre) Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian during a press conference in Kuala Lumpur today.

KUALA LUMPUR: The Sarawak PKR leadership has refused to budge from its decision not to hold the state-level party convention on Saturday, in the latest show of defiance to the central leadership.

The Sarawak PKR chief also said the decision had majority support from state party leaders, adding that they were also willing to risk disciplinary action.

“We are making our stand as state leaders. This is our position.

“If they think we have gone against the constitution, that is up to them to decide,” he told a press conference here.

Last week, Sarawak PKR hit out at PKR Youth for not inviting deputy president Mohamed Azmin Ali to officiate the wing’s congress next month.

Baru had then urged the central leadership to put its house in order.

PKR Youth said Azmin had failed to respond to the wing’s invitation. In his place, Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail will officiate the congress, in what is seen as a break from past tradition.

Central leadership council member Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, who is the director of PKR conventions nationwide, said the party’s Sarawak convention in Miri on Nov 23 would proceed following a meeting with state leaders.

Baru however clarified that the decision to cancel the convention was not a threat, saying they were merely raising their concerns to “united the party”.

He also said they would not have the power to act against those who decide to attend the convention on Saturday.

He said the show of force at today’s press conference, attended by 29 other leaders including vice-chairmen Ali Biju and Willie Mongin as well as grassroots leaders, put paid to two allegations.

One, he said, was Anwar Ibrahim’s claim that “only a few Sarawakian leaders” wanted the convention cancelled.

The other was the claim that more than half of the 31 PKR branches in the state wanted him out as Sarawak PKR chief, he added.

On Anwar’s claim, he said the PKR president might have received the wrong information from the ground.

“It’s obvious that the number is wrong,” he said. “We are obviously the majority in the state leadership council.”

On the second claim by Selangau branch chairman Joshua Jabeng, who said 18 out of 30 of the party’s branch leaders in Sarawak had pledged to remove him as state chief, Baru said the former was trying to make it appear as though he had the majority.

“The presence of the leaders here today says it all,” he added.

He also alleged that large amounts of money had been offered to divisional heads in a bid to convince them to oust him.