PETALING JAYA: Money politics is the biggest challenge and it’s hampering PKR’s expansion, said its Sarawak chief Baru Bian (pic).
He said if PKR could prove to Sarawakians that they were part of New Malaysia, the party would pull in the crowds.
“This is the main obstacle facing PKR in trying to recruit new members in Sarawak.
“We are trying our best to expand our party membership after our historic win during the May 9 polls,” said the Works Minister.
Pakatan Harapan won 10 parliamentary seats in Sarawak, four of which was won by PKR.
“Before the last general election, many Sarawakians, especially minority groups, had no choice but to support the previous government.
“They are from the rural areas and very poor. So RM500 means a lot as it enabled them to buy salt, sugar, cooking oil and other basic necessities for a whole year,” said Baru, who is also Selangau MP.
He said there was a need to educate those in the rural areas to look at the bigger issues.
“We talk about bigger things – the future, the economy, the next generation. The last GE has taught many what we have been fighting for.
“We must deliver a few things in terms of proper governance,” said Baru.
He admitted that to be strong, a political party needs to show its numbers but PKR should also be careful as to who it lets into the party.
“Suddenly, there is a surge in the number of people wanting to join us.
“Some are prominent Barisan Nasional leaders. They want to come in. We are open to this.
“The challenge is to check whether these people are genuine, willing to follow our principles and struggles or coming in with their own agenda. We need to be wise,” said Baru.
On Julau PKR division’s overnight spike from 603 to 13,000 members, he said it was an “exceptional case”.
The division is currently being investigated by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission over allegations of money politics.
Separately, Baru said four main parties in Sarawak had left Barisan Nasional, realising that the coalition was no longer effective.
Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) was formed when Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu, Sarawak United People’s Party, Parti Rakyat Sarawak and Progressive Democratic Party announced on June 12 that they were quitting Barisan to form an independent state-based coalition.
Baru said the reversal of being in the opposition might have jolted many of the GPS MPs that money politics did not work anymore in Sarawak.
“This is one of the signs that the mindsets, even among rural Sarawakians, are shifting.
“It took me 20 years to change the minds of the Lun Bawang tribe in rural Ba’Kelalan. I stood in 1991, and only won in my fourth attempt there in 2011,” said Baru.
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