Baru Bian

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Baru Bian

Minister of Works
Assumed office
2 July 2018
MonarchMuhammad V
Prime MinisterMahathir Mohamad
DeputyHaji Mohd. Anuar Mohd. Tahir
Preceded byFadillah Yusof
Chairman of Sarawak People's Justice Party
Assumed office
Member of the Malaysian Parliament
for Selangau, Sarawak
Assumed office
10 May 2018
Preceded byJoseph Entulu Belaun
Member of the Sarawak State Assembly
for Ba'kelalan
Assumed office
16 April 2011
Preceded byNelson Balang Rining
Majority473 (2011)
538 (2016)
Personal details
Born (1958-09-09) 9 September 1958 (age 60)
Lawas, Crown Colony of Sarawak
Political partyPBDS (1987-2004)
PKR (2008-present)
Spouse(s)Yu Ching Sieu
Alma materUniversiti Teknologi MARA
University of Melbourne

Baru Bian (born 9 September 1958) is a Malaysian politician from the People's Justice Party (PKR) in the Pakatan Harapan governing coalition currently serving as the Minister of Works of Malaysia. He created history when he became the first leader of the Lun Bawang community to be appointed as a cabinet minister.[1]

Early life and career[edit]

Baru Bian was born in an impoverish Lun Bawang family on 9 September 1958,[2] to Bian Labo (father) and Takong Taie (mother) in Long Lopeng, Sarawak.[3][note 1] The ancestry of Baru Bian can be traced back to Berunut area, near the Adang river, where the latter is the tributary of the Limbang River.[3][note 2] All the genuine Lun Bawang people should be able to trace their ancestry to one single common ancestor named Terur Aco. Baru Bian and his siblings are the twentieth generation since the firsy Lun Bawang.[3][note 3] He is the third child and the eldest son in the family. He has six siblings. His elder sisters are Mina and Serina. Freddie is his younger brother, followed by a sister named Sigang, a brother Paulus, and another sister named Litad.[3][note 4] Both Baru's parents were pastors.[4] Baru's father, Bian Labo was trained at Lawas bible school which was under the Sidang Injil Borneo (SIB) church.[3][note 5] Baru's family moved from one village to another because his father was posted to different villages every year.[3][note 6] Brought up in a christian family since childhood, Baru was taught of discipline and doing the right things by his father.[4] Baru first started a relationship with a non-Christian girl during his tertiary education at Institut Teknologi Mara (ITM). However, after opposition from his family members, he decided to break off the relationship.[3][note 7] Baru met his current wife Ching Sieu during his studies at Melbourne, Australia when he joined Overseas Christian Fellowship (OCF).[3][note 8]

Baru's father died of stomach cancer in 1993 at the age of 62 and was buried at Miri.[3][note 9]


By the age of seven or eight, he followed his father into the jungle to learn hunting and fishing. As he become older, he would learn jungle survival skills, geography and boundary of the ancestral lands, and memorise twenty generations of ancestral names.[3][note 10] He attended Primary 1 to 2 at Long Lellang (1966 to 1967), Primary 3 to 4 at Long Semado (1968-1969), and passed common entrace examination at Long Napir (1970 to 1971).[2] After that, he attended Limbang secondary school until Form 5.[3][note 11] At one point, he would need to wear modified school blouse left by her sister for the secondary school.[3][note 12] He need to hike in the jungles for three days before reaching Lawas and another day journey to reach Limbang.[4] His experiences during journeys through the jungles and mountain streams led him to understand the value of Native Customery Rights (NCR) for pemakai menoa (territorial domain) and pulau galau (communal forest reserve) and also the environmental protection.[4] During the year-end school holidays in 1980, Baru Bian interviewed his father and his uncle Lasong Labo about the history of their family's NCR land. He drew the boundaries of their NCR land and signed by the village headman. The map later proved to be useful in fighting against six logging companies encroaching their lands.[3][note 13]

He attended Kolej Tun Datu Tuanku Haji Bujang for Form 6 at Tanjong Lobang, Miri, Sarawak. He got a satisfactory result in GCE Ordinary Level examination.[3][note 14] After completing his secondary education, he served as a temporary teacher at SMK Medamit, Limbang from 1979 to 1981. He taught Geography, History, Physical Education and General Science there.[3][note 15][1] His passion towards native land rights had led him pursued his tertiary education at Institut Teknology Mara (ITM) (now Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM)), Shah Alam, Selangor in Diploma in Law (DIL).[4] His uncle, Libat Langub, who was a former student at ITM, encouraged him to study law there.[3][note 16] He went to Melbourne to further his studies on Law in 1985.[3][note 17] He applied for scholarhip from ITM but was denied. Therefore, he decided to take a study loan instead.[3][note 18] He subsequently obtained a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) from the University of Melbourne, Australia in 1986.[1]

Law career[edit]

Upon graduation, he became a trainee at a law firm in Kuala Lumpur and subsequently admitted to the Malayan Bar as a lawyer and solicitor.[1] He filed his first NCR case in 1991 on behalf of his extended family whose ancestral lands was encroached by logging companies.[4] He set up Messrs Baru Bian Advocates and Solicitors in Kuching in 1992.[1] Baru would later found a legal partner named See Chee How. See is a human rights activist and a lawyer from Kuching. Together, they were involved in numerous native land rights cases.[5]

Political career[edit]

In 1987, Baru joined Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS) because the party was advocating NCR rights in Sarawak.[4] Baru was a supreme council member of PBDS.[1] He first contested against Sarawak Barisan Nasional (BN) governing coalition at Lawas in 1991 but lost. After that, PBDS started negotiating to rejoin Sarawak BN in 1992 and was subsequently admitted into BN in 1994.[6] One of the condition for PBDS to rejoin BN was to stop raising the NCR issues within the state government. However, Baru Bian decided to continue his pursue towards NCR rights cases in court.[4] In 2001, Baru Bian won the Rumah Nor Nyawai case in Sarawak High Court. This was the first time in the history of Malaysian courts that NCR rights was upheld.[5] In 2004, Baru decided to quit PBDS because of his belief in continuing to uphold the NCR lands among the natives and the need to change the Sarawak state government in order to solve the NCR problems permanently.[4] In the same year, Baru went to contest against BN in Ba'kelalan by-election as an independent but lost again. Baru stood again in Ba'kelalan during 2006 Sarawak state election and lost for the third time. He then decided to retire from politics because he already lost three times in elections.[4]

However, when BN lost its two-thirds majority in the parliament and five states to the opposition during the 2008 Malaysian general election, Baru decided to join politics again to strengthen the two-party system. He joined Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) in the same year.[4] In 2009, Baru was appointed as the chairman of PKR Sarawak.[4] He then proceed to win the Ba'kelalan state constituency during 2011 Sarawak state election, having defeated the candidate for the BN coalition, Willie Liau, who is also his nephew, by a narrow 473-vote majority.[7][8] He retained the seat in the 2016 Sarawak state election with an increased majority of 538 votes, also against Willie.[9]

During the 2018 Malaysian general election, NCR issues at Selangau prompt Baru to contest for the seat.[10] He subsequently won the parliamentary seat against BN's Rita Sarimah with a majority of 486 votes.[11] On 2 July 2018, Baru was sworn-in as the Minister of Works of Malaysia at National Palace.[12][13]

Hobbies and interests[edit]

Baru learned Ngajat dance during his primary school years at Long Lellang.[3][note 19] Baru is able to sing songs in alto since he was in Form 4.[3][note 20] Baru started to play football while he was in Form 6.[3][note 21]


Baru was baptised at Limbang River in 1973 by a New Zealand missionary named Murray Munroe.[3][note 22] A few months before baptism, a testimony given by a former gangster from Singapore during an Inter-School Christian Fellowship (ISCF) meeting had strengthen Baru's belief in Christianity.[3][note 23] Baru started to play guitar for Christian songs while he was a member of ISCF at SMK Limbang.[3][note 24] He later become the president of ICSF during Form 4 and Form 5. He participated in Young Christian Students Movement (YCSM) year-end mission trips during his secondary school years.[3][note 25] During his years at ITM, he attended Full Gospel Assembly Church service at Old Klang Road.[3][note 26] He also attended a Christian Fellowship in ITM.[3][note 27] When Baru studied at Melbourne, Australia, he attended Overseas Christian Fellowship (OCF).[3][note 28]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Baru Bian creates history". The Borneo Post. 3 July 2018. Archived from the original on 4 August 2018. Retrieved 20 November 2018.
  2. ^ a b Baru, Bian. "Curriculum vitae". Archived from the original on 18 February 2018. Retrieved 1 December 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab Baru, Bian; Deborah, Loh (2014). The Long Awakening. Kuching, Sarawak: Baru Bian. ISBN 978-967-12316-0-9.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Sharon, Ling (29 July 2018). "A fighter with big dreams". The Star (Malaysia). Archived from the original on 29 July 2018. Retrieved 20 November 2018.
  5. ^ a b Lukas, Straumann (2014). "Chapter 6 - Bruno Manser's legacy". Money Logging On the Trail of the Asian Timber Mafia (First ed.). Basel, Switzerland: Bergli Books. p. 205. ISBN 978-3-905252-72-9. Retrieved 2 November 2018.
  6. ^ Oorjitham, Santha (14 September 2013). "Dayak welfare was his priority". New Straits Times. Archived from the original on 20 September 2013. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  7. ^ "I'm still a winnable candidate in Ba' Kelalan — Balang". 22 July 2015. Archived from the original on 14 July 2018. Retrieved 1 December 2018.
  8. ^ William, Mangor (23 July 2015). "Baru Bian: Sarawakians want to see changes". Free Malaysia Today. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 1 December 2018.
  9. ^ "Sarawak Polls: Baru Bian retains Ba'kelalan seat". New Straits Times. Archived from the original on 8 May 2018. Retrieved 26 November 2018.
  10. ^ "NCR issues prompted me to stand in Selangau – Baru". The Borneo Post. 29 April 2018. Archived from the original on 30 April 2018. Retrieved 26 November 2018.
  11. ^ Jane, Moh (10 May 2018). "Baru Bian secures maiden parliament win in Selangau". The Borneo Post. Archived from the original on 10 May 2018. Retrieved 26 November 2018.
  12. ^ Andrew, Sia (2 July 2008). "Baru Bian, the first Lun Bawang minister, fought hard for Sarawak natives' land rights". The Star (Malaysia). Archived from the original on 3 July 2008. Retrieved 26 November 2018.
  13. ^ "New members of Malaysia's Cabinet sworn in". The Straits Times. 2 July 2018. Archived from the original on 11 September 2018. Retrieved 26 November 2018.


  1. ^ Baru, 2014. Pages iii, and i.v
  2. ^ Baru, 2014. Page 38
  3. ^ Baru, 2014. Page 40
  4. ^ Baru, 2014. Page 10
  5. ^ Baru, 2014. Page 10
  6. ^ Baru, 2014. Page 10
  7. ^ Baru, 2014. Page 29
  8. ^ Baru, 2014. Page 31
  9. ^ Baru, 2014. Page 38
  10. ^ Baru, 2014. Page 14
  11. ^ Baru, 2014. Page 12
  12. ^ Baru, 2014. Page 13
  13. ^ Baru, 2014. Page 15
  14. ^ Baru, 2014. Page 12, 24
  15. ^ Baru, 2014. Page 25
  16. ^ Baru, 2014. Page 25
  17. ^ Baru, 2014. Page 31
  18. ^ Baru, 2014. Page 28
  19. ^ Baru, 2014. Page 11
  20. ^ Baru, 2014. Page 3
  21. ^ Baru, 2014. Page 24
  22. ^ Baru, 2014. Page 18
  23. ^ Baru, 2014. Page 18
  24. ^ Baru, 2014. Page 18
  25. ^ Baru, 2014. Pages 20-22
  26. ^ Baru, 2014. Pages 29
  27. ^ Baru, 2014. Pages 28
  28. ^ Baru, 2014. Pages 31