Hundreds of PKR state leaders, members and supporters came to the Kuching International Airport this morning to show support for Sarawak PKR chairperson Baru Bian.
On his arrival with his wife from Miri at 9.50am, Baru, who is also works minister, was honoured as paramount chief by the Orang Ulu community when they placed the Lavong Pahlawan Maren Kayan headgear on him, denoting him as the aristocratic chief of the Kayan and Kenyah (ethnic groups in Sarawak).
Only a fellow Maren may bestow this title and place the headgear on its recipient.
Stephen Kuleh, a Kayan from Hulu Rajang, was given the honour on behalf of the community to place the headgear on Baru's head while his supporters shouted "Hidup Baru" (Long live Baru).
The Lavong Manit headgear was also placed on Baru's wife’s head.
A Malay kompang group started the rousing welcome followed by supporters singing a popular Iban song by Andrew Ngalai titled "Berkikis Bulu Betis."
Also present at the airport were Sarawak PKR vice-chairman See Chee How, secretary Nicholas Bawin and information chief Vernon Kedit.
Baru, the Selanggau MP and Ba'kelalan assemblyperson, then gave a speech to his supporters and answered questions from the media on his future as Sarawak PKR chief.
The show of support came about in view of speculation that Baru might be dropped from the post.
Baru stressed that matters pertaining to the party, including party elections and appointment of state chairpersons, must be done in accordance with its constitution.
“Whatever it is, it is my belief that the existence of the party must be in accordance with the provisions of the party’s constitution and that is very important, and therefore I welcome statements that we in Sarawak will adhere to the constitution of the party; this is very, very important,” he said.
Asked whether it is going to be the president (of PKR) or the division heads who will pick the state’s chairperson, Baru said: “It is very clear for Sabah and Sarawak; it is clear in our constitution that the appointment of the PKR chief in Sarawak and Sabah is (made) after consultations with all the division heads in Sabah and Sarawak; only then the president would appoint the state’s chief.”
As such, he pointed out that it was not correct to say that it is the prerogative of the party president to pick the state’s chairperson.
“That is very clear and it has been done before and we will not depart from there.
"I think this is one of the very important aspects of the party’s constitution whereby PKR gives autonomy to Sabah PKR and Sarawak PKR, which is consistent with our claim for Sarawak to have equal status with Peninsular Malaysia under the Malaysia Agreement 1963," he said.
Baru also thanked PKR members in Sarawak for having given him their support to lead the party in the state since 2009, and said that he is still willing to lead if given the mandate.