By John Isaac
BA KELALAN assemblyman Baru Bian says people in his constituency who voted for opposition parties are not ‘prodigal sons’.
He was responding to a recent statement by Orang Ulu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OUCCI) president Datuk Mutang Tagal describing Ba Kelalan constituency as a ‘prodigal son’ who must return to the ‘fold of the government of the day’.
“The use of the terminology prodigal son (by Mutang) implies that those who voted for the opposition candidates and the opposition candidates themselves are ‘politically wayward’, wrong, misled and lost politically, and that only Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) or the political parties of the day are the ‘right’ or ‘correct’ political parties,” he said in a statement yesterday.
Baru added that what Mutang said was a misleading and misconceived perception because in a democratic country, Baru believes that one has the freedom to vote for and support any political party or its candidates in any election.
“So there is nothing ‘prodigal’ about aligning with the opposition parties. Political parties and the balance of power may change, as happened after GE14, when I became a federal minister,” he said.
On Mutang’s claim that Ba Kelalan missed out on millions in development funds, Baru said that Mutang proved the fact that GPS (or the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) government) had been a vindictive and unfair government.
This was because they victimised the rakyat for exercising their constitutional rights in an election as development fund allocation is the responsibility of the elected government regardless of the constituency’s political alignement, he added.
“This is one of the reasons I cannot support the BN or GPS parties, and Mutang’s assertion only fortifies my stand,” said Baru.
However, Baru pointed out that although Ba Kelalan is represented by him, an opposition assemblyman, it is under the parliamentary seat of Lawas, a seat held by a GPS party and earlier by BN, and he questioned why sufficient allocation had not been given to Ba Kelalan all those years.
“Going by Mutang’s reasoning, the MP for Lawas Datuk Henry Sum should be blamed and GPS had failed the rakyat who voted for him as MP all these years. Otherwise Mutang’s argument is illogical and flawed,” he said.
On Mutang’s lament that Ba Kelalan lost RM100 million in the past 10 years, Baru questioned whether other seats that are ‘in the fold’ in Lawas parliamentary area received RM100 million during the same period.
Baru pointed out that there was no evidence of RM100 million allocated for Ba Kelalan’s neighbouring constituency of Bukit Sari, or the other four Orang Ulu state seats which are equally as underdeveloped as Ba Kelalan.
Baru stressed that there are other issues equally important as allocation of development funds, such as the people’s rights like land rights and religious freedom, faith, truth and justice.
He cited the example of the silence of GPS assemblymen on the federal government’s stand that the official religion of Sarawak was Islam.
“Mutang in speaking as he did, is in fact questioning the rights and wisdom of the voters in Ba Kelalan. For me, I will leave all these to the wisdom of the Lun Bawang people.
“I have done many practical things, raised many issues, spoke courageously in the State Legislative Assembly and Parliament for the people of Ba Kelalan and Sarawak, and did my best as an assemblyman and MP,” Baru said he leaves it to the people make their choice because they are matured voters and they are aware of what is happening in the political arena at the state and national level.
On what he had done for the Ba Kelalan constituency, he said he had spoken up for the construction of the 66-kilometre Long Luping to Ba Kelalan road which was only upgraded after the 2011 state election, and also fought for the approval of the Sabah-Sarawak Link Road.
“In terms of value, these projects total more than RM1.3 billion surpassing the RM100 million alleged by Mutang to have been lost over 10 years.
“I do not want to brag about achievements but let the people compare the achievements in the 22 months when I was a minister to the 10 years of alleged losses, and the inaction of BN/PBB/GPS in Lawas and the other seats that are ‘in the fold’ for the last 57 years,” he said.
Baru noted that GPS is looking at potential candidates for the next state election and that aspiring candidates are making statements to please their political masters.