Baru Bian

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Baru Bian

BaruBian2 (cropped).jpg
Keynote Address by YB Baru Bian
Minister of Works
In office
2 July 2018 – 24 February 2020
MonarchMuhammad V
Prime MinisterMahathir Mohamad
DeputyMohd Anuar Mohd Tahir
Special AdvisorChua Tian Chang
Preceded byFadillah Yusof
Succeeded byFadillah Yusof
State Chairman of the
People's Justice Party of
In office
15 December 2009 – 24 February 2020
PresidentWan Azizah Wan Ismail
DeputyWan Zainal Wan Sanusi
Preceded byAnwar Ibrahim (Acting)
Succeeded byLarry Sng Wei Shien
Member of the Malaysian Parliament
for Selangau
Assumed office
10 May 2018
Preceded byJoseph Entulu Belaun (PRSBN)
Majority486 (2018)
Member of the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly
for Ba'kelalan
Assumed office
16 April 2011
Preceded byNelson Balang Rining (SPDPBN)
Majority473 (2011)
538 (2016)
Personal details
Born (1958-09-09) 9 September 1958 (age 62)
Lawas, Crown Colony of Sarawak (now Sarawak, Malaysia
Nationality Malaysia
Political partySarawak Native People's Party (PBDS) (1987-2004)
Independent (2004)
Malaysian Dayak Congress (MDC) (2005)
Sarawak National Party (SNAP) (2006-2008)
People's Justice Party (PKR) (2008-2020)
Independent (2020)
United Sarawak Party (PSB) (2020-now)
Other political
Pakatan Rakyat (2008-2015)
Pakatan Harapan (PH) (2015-)
Spouse(s)Yu Ching Sieu
Alma materUniversiti Teknologi MARA
University of Melbourne

Baru Bian (born 9 September 1958) is a Malaysian politician. He is the incumbent Member of Parliament (MP) for Selangau and Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) for Ba Kelalan in Sarawak concurrently. Presently he is a member of the United Sarawak Party (PSB).[1]

Baru previously is the Sarawak's chier of the People's Justice Party (PKR), a component of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition.[2] He also formerly served as the Minister of Works of Malaysia in the previous governing PH coalition after winning in 2018 Malaysian general election. . He created history when he became the first leader of the Lun Bawang community to be appointed as a cabinet minister.[3]

Attending Community Event

Early life and career[edit]

Baru Bian was born in an impoverished Lun Bawang family on 9 September 1958,[4] to Bian Labo (father) and Takong Taie (mother) in Long Lopeng, Sarawak.[5][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.[5][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 first Lun Bawang.[5][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.[5][note 4] Both Baru's parents were pastors.[6] Baru's father, Bian Labo was trained at Lawas bible school which was under the Sidang Injil Borneo (SIB) church.[5][note 5] Baru's family moved from one village to another because his father was posted to different villages every year.[5][note 6] Brought up in a Christian family since childhood, Baru was taught of discipline and doing the right things by his father.[6]

Baru met his current wife Ching Sieu during his studies at Melbourne, Australia when he joined Overseas Christian Fellowship (OCF).[5][note 7] Baru returned to Malaysia after graduation in 1986, Ching Sieu was still studying for another year for her double degree. She only returned to Malaysia in 1987. Baru and Ching Sieu was married on 17 December 1988.[5][note 8] Baru and Ching Sieu raised three children, all three are now practicing Lawyers.[4] Meanwhile, Ching Sieu is a full-time housewife.[5][note 9]

Baru's father died of stomach cancer in 1993 at the age of 62 and was buried at Miri.[5][note 10]


By the age of seven or eight, he followed his father into the jungle to learn hunting and fishing. As he became older, he would learn jungle survival skills, geography and boundary of the ancestral lands, and memorise twenty generations of ancestral names.[5][note 11] He attended Primary 1 to 2 at Long Lellang (1966 to 1967), Primary 3 to 4 at Long Semado (1968-1969), and passed common entrance examination at Long Napir (1970 to 1971).[4] After that, he attended Limbang secondary school until Form 5.[5][note 12] At one point, he would need to wear modified school blouse left by her sister for the secondary school.[5][note 13] He need to hike in the jungles for three days before reaching Lawas and another day journey to reach Limbang.[6] His experiences during journeys through the jungles and mountain streams led him to understand the value of Native Customary Rights (NCR) for pemakai menoa (territorial domain) and pulau galau (communal forest reserve) and also the environmental protection.[6] 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 in Berunut from 1986 to 1990s.[5][note 14]

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.[5][note 15] 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.[5][note 16][3] 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).[6] His uncle, Libat Langub, who was a former student at ITM, encouraged him to study law there.[5][note 17] He went to Melbourne to further his studies on Law in 1985.[5][note 18] He applied for scholarship from ITM but was denied. Therefore, he decided to take a study loan instead.[5][note 19] He subsequently obtained Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) from the University of Melbourne, Australia in 1986.[3] After his graduation in Australia, Baru decided to come back to Malaysia to serve the needy instead of applying for permanent residency in Australia.[5][note 20]

Law career[edit]

Upon graduation, he became a trainee in a law firm named Rashid & Lee in Kuala Lumpur for six months before the law firm stopped paying allowances due to financial difficulties. He then continued his training at Eddy Chung & Co and was employed there until he returned to Kuching in 1988.[5][note 21] Baru was subsequently admitted to the Malayan Bar as a lawyer and solicitor.[3] By 1990, Baru became a partner in the firm of Messrs Anthony Ting, Baru Bian & Co. in Kuching, Sarawak.[4] Baru taught himself about native customary rights law through Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM), an NGO led by Harrison Ngau Laing, an environmentalist. Baru would later become a legal advisor for SAM.[5][note 22] In the same year, he represented SAM to Yokohama, Japan to protest against the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) for not including the issues of native customary rights in their report. It was also at this time that Baru Bian met the Swiss activist, Bruno Manser.[5][note 23] Bruno would later helped Baru to raise RM 30,000 from overseas supporters to fund Baru's 1991 election endeavour.[5][note 24] However, Malaysian embassy officials would later take a photo of Baru Bian and Bruno Manser in Yokohama and used the photo to depict Baru as a traitor to Malaysian interests in 1991 election.[5][note 25]

Baru filed his first NCR case in 1991 on behalf of his extended family whose ancestral lands in Berunut was encroached by logging companies. However, the case was pending in court after two years. Therefore, Baru and his family members took part in timber blockades which successfully led Samling (a logging company) to compensate them RM 100,000. As part of the agreement, Baru withdrew the court case.[5][note 26][6] He set up Messrs Baru Bian Advocates and Solicitors in Kuching in 1992.[3] 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.[7] Baru also took up cases related to wrongful arrests or jailed without remand.[5][note 27] 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.[7] In 2007, the Federal Court of Malaysia upheld the decision on Rumah Nor Nyawai case that pemakai menua and pulau galau, in addition to temuda (cultivated land before 1 January 1958) are included in the definition of NCR land.[5][note 28] In March 2011, Baru successfully led the legal defence team consisting of Civil Rights Lawyers See Chee How & Desmond Kho, resulting in the acquittal of Numpang Suntai who was accused of burning ten items of machinery in a logging camp at Sebangan, Simunjan District for encroaching the latter's ancestral land.[5][note 29] By 2013, Baru Bian's law firm had processed more than 200 native land rights cases in court.[5][note 30]

Baru Bian's belief in the freedom of religion guaranteed by the Constitution of Malaysia had prompted him to take up cases for those who wished to leave the religion of Islam.[8][9][10] His representations in the apostasy cases has drawn criticisms from Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), accusing him of contempt against the Islamic religion.[11][12][13]

Political career[edit]

In 1987, Baru joined Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS) because the party was advocating NCR rights in Sarawak.[6] In 1989, Baru was elected as PBDS Youth Executive Council member.[5][note 31] Baru was also a supreme council member of PBDS.[3] 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.[14] 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.[6] In 2004, Baru decided to quit PBDS and went to contest against BN in Ba'kelalan by-election as an Independent but lost again. Baru believed 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.[6] Baru later joined Malaysian Dayak Congress (MDC). However, as MDC did not get registered before 2006 Sarawak state election[5][note 32], Baru chose to join Sarawak National Party (SNAP) to contest again for Ba'kelalan under SNAP ticket but had lost for the third time.[15] He filed an election petition to Miri High Court on BN's vote buying activities in Ba'kelalan but the petition was struck out on technicality grounds.[5][note 33] He then decided to retire from politics temporary because he already lost three times in elections.[6]

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 People's Justice Party (PKR) in the same year.[6] In 2009, Baru was appointed as the chairman of PKR Sarawak.[6] 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.[16][17] In 2015, Sarawak chief minister Adenan Satem invited Baru Bian to join BN, however, Baru declined the offer.[18] Baru retained the seat in the 2016 Sarawak state election with an increased majority of 538 votes, also against Willie.[19]

In 2013 Malaysian general election, Baru Bian decided to contest in Limbang parliamentary seat.[20] However, he was defeated by a huge margin against BN.[21] During the 2018 Malaysian general election, NCR issues at Selangau prompt Baru to contest for the seat.[22] He subsequently won the parliamentary seat against BN's Rita Sarimah with a majority of 486 votes.[23] On 2 July 2018, Baru was sworn-in as the Minister of Works of Malaysia at National Palace.[24][25]

In 2020 Malaysian political crisis, Baru with 10 other PKR MPs lead by Mohamed Azmin Ali decided to leave the party to support Malaysian United Indigenous Party (BERSATU) Prime Minister candidate Mahathir Mohamad to remain as the Prime Minister. However, after Mahathir Mohamad refused to return as Prime Minister, BERSATU nominated Muhyiddin Yassin as the nominee for the Prime Minister position. After PH changed their support from Anwar Ibrahim to Mahathir Mohamad as Prime Minister, he and Jonathan Yasin who were two of the 11 MPs who left PKR came back to support Mahathir Mohamad as the Prime Minister rather than Muhyiddin Yassin. In the aftermath, Baru had finally chose to join the Sarawak based United Sarawak Party (PSB) on 30 May 2020.[26]

Hobbies and interests[edit]

Baru learned Ngajat dance during his primary school years at Long Lellang.[5][note 34] Baru is able to sing songs in alto since he was in Form 4.[5][note 35] Baru started to play football while he was in Form 6.[5][note 36]

Encouraging Youth


Baru was baptised at Limbang River in 1973 by a New Zealand missionary named Murray Munroe.[5][note 37] 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.[5][note 38] Baru started to play guitar for Christian songs while he was a member of ISCF at SMK Limbang.[5][note 39] 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.[5][note 40] During his years at ITM, he attended Full Gospel Assembly Church service at Old Klang Road.[5][note 41] He also attended a Christian Fellowship in ITM.[5][note 42] When Baru studied at Melbourne, Australia, he attended Overseas Christian Fellowship (OCF).[5][note 43]

Election results[edit]

Sarawak State Legislative Assembly
Year Constituency Votes Pct Opponent(s) Votes Pct Ballots cast Majority Turnout
1991 Lawas Baru Bian (PBDS) 2,433 28.59% Tengah Ali Hassin (PBB) 6,076 71.41% 8,619 3,643 74.10%
2004 Ba'kelalan Baru Bian (IND) 1,391 32.85% Nelson Balang Rining (SPDP) 2,843 67.15% 4,313 1,452 56.04%
2006 Baru Bian (SNAP) 1,589 43.50% Nelson Balang Rining (SPDP) 2,064 56.50% 3,680 475 58.56%
2011 Baru Bian (PKR) 2,505 55.21% Willie Liau (SPDP) 2,032 44.79% 4,585 473 65.90%
2016 Baru Bian (PKR) 2,858 55.20% Willie Liau (SPDP) 2,320 44.80% 5,229 538 70.90%
Parliament of Malaysia
Year Constituency Votes Pct Opponent(s) Votes Pct Ballots cast Majority Turnout
2013 Limbang Baru Bian (PKR) 4,698 26.55% Hasbi Habibollah (PBB) 12,999 73.45% 17,912 8,301 73.78%
2018 Selangau Baru Bian (PKR) 11,228 51.11% Rita Sarimah (PRS) 10,742 48.89% 22,352 486 74.44%


  1. ^ "It's official – Baru, See join PSB with over 20 former PKR leaders". Borneo Post. 30 May 2020. Retrieved 30 May 2020.
  2. ^ Nazmi Suhaimi (31 May 2020). "I'm an intelligent katak, says Baru". Sarawak Voice. Retrieved 31 May 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Baru Bian creates history". The Borneo Post. 3 July 2018. Archived from the original on 4 July 2018. Retrieved 20 November 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d Baru, Bian. "Curriculum vitae". Archived from the original on 18 February 2018. Retrieved 1 December 2018.
  5. ^ 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 ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq Baru, Bian; Deborah, Loh (2014). The Long Awakening. Kuching, Sarawak: Baru Bian. ISBN 978-967-12316-0-9.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ Baru, Bian (12 November 2016). "Baru Bian: Court of Appeal Decision a Letdown for converts out of Islam". Borneo Today. Press statement. Archived from the original on 17 November 2016. Retrieved 23 December 2018.
  9. ^ "Wanita Melayu Diwakili Peguam Baru Bian Gagal Dalam Rayuan Kes Murtad (A Malay lady who was represented by lawyer Baru Bian lost the appeal in an apostasy case)". Archived from the original on 23 December 2018. Retrieved 23 December 2018.
  10. ^ "Law is silent on Muslim converts wishing to leave Islam – Baru". The Borneo Post. 11 February 2017. Archived from the original on 30 March 2018. Retrieved 23 December 2018.
  11. ^ "Baru Bian blasts death threats, insults over apostasy case". Free Malaysia Today. 28 February 2018. Retrieved 23 December 2018.
  12. ^ "'Baru Bian hina umat Islam Sarawak' (Baru Bian insulted Islam in Sarawak)". Malaysiakini. 27 February 2018. Archived from the original on 23 December 2018. Retrieved 23 December 2018.
  13. ^ Kamarul, Zaman Yusoff (28 February 2018). "Baru Bian juara Kristianisasi Sarawak (Baru Bian is the champion of christianisation in Sarawak)". Harakah Daily. Archived from the original on 3 April 2018. Retrieved 23 December 2018.
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ Mohd Roji Kawi (31 May 2020). "'Saya katak yang baik' - Baru Bian". Berita Harian. Retrieved 31 May 2020.
  16. ^ "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.
  17. ^ 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.
  18. ^ Philip, Kiew (31 May 2015). "'Join BN, Baru Bian'". The Borneo Post. Archived from the original on 18 June 2018. Retrieved 26 January 2019.
  19. ^ "Sarawak Polls: Baru Bian retains Ba'kelalan seat". New Straits Times. Archived from the original on 8 May 2016. Retrieved 26 November 2018.
  20. ^ "Baru confirms standing in Limbang". The Borneo Post. 9 March 2013. Archived from the original on 23 December 2018. Retrieved 23 December 2018.
  21. ^ "Baru admits stunned by a huge margin". The Borneo Post. 7 March 2013. Retrieved 23 December 2018.
  22. ^ "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.
  23. ^ 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.
  24. ^ 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 2018. Retrieved 26 November 2018.
  25. ^ "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.
  26. ^ "Ex-PKR Sarawak chief Baru Bian joins PSB". Astro Awani. 30 May 2020. Retrieved 30 May 2020.


  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 31
  8. ^ Baru, 2014. Page 146
  9. ^ Baru, 2014. Page 223
  10. ^ Baru, 2014. Page 38
  11. ^ Baru, 2014. Page 14
  12. ^ Baru, 2014. Page 12
  13. ^ Baru, 2014. Page 13
  14. ^ Baru, 2014. Page 15, 105-116
  15. ^ Baru, 2014. Page 12, 24
  16. ^ Baru, 2014. Page 25
  17. ^ Baru, 2014. Page 25
  18. ^ Baru, 2014. Page 31
  19. ^ Baru, 2014. Page 28
  20. ^ Baru, 2014. Page 145
  21. ^ Baru, 2014. Page 146
  22. ^ Baru, 2014. Page 147
  23. ^ Baru, 2014. Page 147
  24. ^ Baru, 2014. Page 148
  25. ^ Baru, 2014. Page 151
  26. ^ Baru, 2014. Pages 105-116
  27. ^ Baru, 2014. Pages 119-120
  28. ^ Baru, 2014. Pages 128
  29. ^ Baru, 2014. Page 120
  30. ^ Baru, 2014. Page 131
  31. ^ Baru, 2014. Page 171
  32. ^ Baru, 2014. Page 184
  33. ^ Baru, 2014. Page 192-193
  34. ^ Baru, 2014. Page 11
  35. ^ Baru, 2014. Page 3
  36. ^ Baru, 2014. Page 24
  37. ^ Baru, 2014. Page 18
  38. ^ Baru, 2014. Page 18
  39. ^ Baru, 2014. Page 18
  40. ^ Baru, 2014. Pages 20-22
  41. ^ Baru, 2014. Pages 29
  42. ^ Baru, 2014. Pages 28
  43. ^ Baru, 2014. Pages 31