PETALING JAYA: Sarawak PKR has been rejuvenated by the departure of several senior leaders, including former federal minister Baru Bian, and their supporters earlier this year, state party leader Larry Sng said.
He said the defections had “rejuvenated grassroots support” for the party and even resulted in an increase in membership, with more than 1,000 new members signing up.
Fewer than 300 “traitors” had jumped ship, said Sng.
“Many Dayak leaders were previously marginalised from the party due to the insecurities of the previous leadership.
“Any Dayak leader who was capable would be seen as a threat to these former leaders and they would subsequently remove their competition,” he told FMT.
When Baru defected, Sng said the new leadership made the effort to reach out to those who had been alienated.
And these groups of leaders and their supporters, he said, “happily rejoined” the party.
“They know they won’t be marginalised again,” he said, adding that these groups are staunch PKR supporters who were previously denied the opportunity to shine.
Baru, the former works minister aligned to ex-PKR deputy president Mohamed Azmin Ali, had quit the party during the political crisis in February which resulted in the collapse of the Pakatan Harapan government.
He has since joined Parti Bersatu Sarawak (PSB), an opposition party.
Puncak Borneo MP Willie Mongin and Saratok MP Ali Biju also quit the party earlier this year.
In April, PKR sacked See Chee How, its Batu Lintang assemblyman, for publicly airing support for another political platform.
Sng said PKR Sarawak is now stronger than before.
He also dismissed a prediction by a political analyst who said Sarawak PKR would fail to woo the Dayaks and Malays, following his appointment as the state party chief.
Last month, Universiti Putra Malaysia’s Jayum Jawan said PKR would not make any impact in Dayak areas as it is led by a Chinese.
“I think that man does not know what is happening on the ground. He reads too many books” Sng retorted.
He added as far as PKR was concerned, the support from the Dayak community has been “growing steadily”, adding that the grassroots remained intact as PKR’s principles remained the same.
In fact, Sng claims, the Dayak community is upset that their previous leaders had abandoned them without any consultation.
“But their departure has little impact on the Dayak grassroots, as it paves the way for new Dayak leaders.”
Meanwhile, Sng shot down PSB’s chances of winning big in the coming state election if the party did not pair up with anyone to topple Sarawak’s ruling coalition Gabungan Parti Sarawak.
“I believe if they contest on their own, they are grossly mistaken if they think they can win.”
Sng also revealed that PH Sarawak has settled seat allocations, with PKR to contest in 46 constituencies.