Baru Bian, the Sarawak MP of Selangau who was recently made the Minister of Works, was initially apprehensive of the load that will be placed on his shoulders.
He knows that the appointment is all "about works" and nothing else. While admitting concern about handling the portfolio, he is nonetheless convinced that with proper support in the government, he would be able to carry out his duties.
The focus is on bringing development to the five poorest states in Malaysia - Sarawak, Sabah, Kelantan, Terengganu and Perlis
As Baru comes from one of the most remote areas of Sarawak - from Lun Bawang community in Ba' Kelalan - he knows exactly how it feels to be sidelined and forgotten in development.
Until today, Ba' Kelalan, which borders Indonesia's Long Bawan district in North Kalimantan, is still not easily accessible by land transport.
Baru, despite being a politician for decades, is better known as the lawyer who defends the land of the natives, having fought in courts for the native customary rights for 25 years.
The PKR Sarawak chairman is intent on delivering promises and wants to make sure no community is kept away from basic necessities. Baru, therefore, has made it a point that the promises of upgrading of basic infrastructure which lacks in many parts of Sarawak and also in Peninsula, must be delivered in full.
"It is good that the manifesto that had been prepared by Pakatan Harapan before the elections is very clear. The focus is on bringing development to the five poorest states in Malaysia - Sarawak, Sabah, Kelantan, Terengganu and Perlis."
"They talked about 50 percent of the development budget to focus on these areas. The supervision on execution of implementation of these projects must be taken into account. I must ensure that this is really implemented," says Baru.
Baru Bian - Deliver the Works, Stop the Leakage
He pointed out that it was reported in the Auditor General's reports in the past years that there had been substantial leakage in government projects in Sarawak alone. He explains that cost of certain project costs were inflated, not reflecting the real value and along the way, the budgeted amount may have been siphoned off by certain parties.
"We should be really cautious of the fact that in previous projects - for Sarawak in particular - the original report says that we have 40 percent leakage of government projects in Sarawak.
We must be seen to be treating everyone equally. There cannot be double standards
"We must ensure that whatever that has been allocated for certain projects should be delivered accordingly. And I can see what we really need is the infrastructure. Sarawak is really lacking far behind many states in Semenanjung. So, I want to see that as a focus, to build a catalyst of development in Sarawak," said Baru.
In pointing out the leakage in development projects, Baru also stated that such leakages also is part of the culture of corruption that has been endemic under the leadership of the previous federal government.
He said, as a Sarawakian, he is glad that action is being taken now on those previous leaders who allegedly enriched themselves during their tenure in office.
However, he said that fellow Sarawakians want to ensure that there is no double standards when it comes to prosecuting corrupt leaders. He called upon the Pakatan Harapan government to also to investigate the alleged wrongdoings of the past top leaders of Sarawak.
"We have been told that were files (on suspected wrongdoing) were opened up and investigations conducted. I have raised it up and said what happened to these files? What is the conclusion of these files? And of course, there were reports on files opened against Sarawak Governor Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud and the family."
Baru Bian - Take Action Against Taib Too
"We are not pre-judging them but we must be seen to be fair. We must be seen to be treating everyone equally. There cannot be double standards. There cannot be a selective prosecution. So, as the Prime Minister said, we adhere to the rule of law," says Baru.
"Many would be disappointed if action is not taken. It may be now or later, but very importantly, we must be seen to be doing the right thing. Sarawakians have been waiting for many years. And if we don’t do anything, I think they will get back at us," Baru emphasises, referring to the possibility of a backlash against PH in the next general election should nothing be done to prosecute the corrupt.
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