KUALA LUMPUR: Baru Bian of Sarawak has a delicate balancing act cut out for him.
As the Federal Works Minister, he has a role in assisting Sarawak to develop the state infrastructure, taking on the duties once handled by his predecessor Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusoff of the previous government.
As the PKR Sarawak chief, he has to ensure that the voice of Sarawakians is heard in Putrajaya.
Sarawak is now administered by the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) formed by four parties that were once in the Sarawak Barisan Nasional (BN). GPS has stated it is friendly to the ruling Pakatan Harapan (PH).
According to Dr Nadrawina Isnin, although it is a tough balancing act for Baru, looking at the new political landscape that has emerged after the 14th General Election and the fact remains whether PH can work with GPS, the minister would definitely bring many positive changes to Sarawak.
"Baru, so far, has done much, especially on the contentious issue of Native Customary Rights (NCR) land. Well, our expectations of him are high. Like I said, he has done much for the people in Sarawak. And I believed other Sarawakians also would agree with me," said the Administrative Sciences and Policy Studies Faculty lecturer when contacted by Bernama.
Commonwealth Journalist Association (CJA) Sarawak Chapter president Alice Wee said: "He had a number of times represented clients in NCR land disputes. I am very confident he will still be pursuing this matter as he understands better the unique physical and social situation in Sarawak.
She pointed out that Baru, during his term as a state assemblyman on the opposition bench, took a BN-friendly stand on matters relating to development and infrastructure.
"Now, in his capacity as the Works Minister, let us hope he continues his predecessor (Datuk Seri) Fadillah Yusoff’s work in developing the state infrastructure and see to whatever constraints that come with the development in the state," said Wee, a veteran journalist.
For political analyst Datuk Peter Minos, however, it is still premature to regard Baru as an agent of change for the state.
"Too early to make the judgment now. However, it can be said that one full federal minister for Sarawak will not be able to do wonders or do very much. But only time will tell,” he said, adding that previously Sarawak had many ministers in the federal cabinet but they could not do miracles as the funds were controlled by the previous government in Putrajaya.
At the same time, Minos said he hoped that Baru, in his capacity as the Works Minister, would see through the completion of the Pan Borneo Highway according to schedule as it meant a lot for the people in the state.
"Now is the time for Baru to get things done and achieve many things for the people, including those in Sarawak," he said.
Baru, who is the Selangau MP, also created history as the first person from the Lun Bawang community to be appointed a minister.
The other Sarawak representative in the federal administration is the Deputy Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Chong Chieng Jen. The DAP leader is PH Sarawak chairman. - Bernama