In a twist to the usual practice of political parties hosting dinners for voters, residents of Long Tengoa today said they want Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian to return on 9 April so that they can throw a party for him.
Baru held a closed-door meeting today with the villagers of Long Tengoa near Sungai Trusan in Ba’Kelalan. Nearby, the villagers had put up a banner saying they did not want the BN candidate.
Just 4km from the border with Indonesian Kalimantan, Ba’Kelalan is a group of nine villages in the Bario Highlands, 910m above sea level. In this temperate climate, orchard owners cultivate apples, mandarin oranges and vanilla. Rice is also grown in the area.
The biggest issue in the area is of course the non-recognition of native customary rights land and land grabs, according to a well-placed party source.
The other major issue here – in an area where 98 per cent of the residents belong to the Lun Bawang ethnic group, which is predominantly Christian (Sidang Injil Borneo) – is the Alkitab and Allah controversy. “Many of them feel that the official comments over the recent release of the Bibles was just lip-service with the elections around the corner,” said the source.
The Petronas pipe-line running through the area is another sore point. Residents have complained that they are not getting any compensation for land that has been taken over.
The party source said they have been working the ground since early last year and they are quietly confident that Baru will pull through.
Tomorrow, the PKR chief will be hitting the ground from coffee-shop to coffee-shop and in the afternoon, he will be visiting two more villages.