By Cecelia Alphonsus & Syauqi Jamil
KUALA LUMPUR — As someone who came from Sarawak’s remote highlands to establishing a career as a prominent native land rights lawyer, to becoming an opposition member of the Sarawak State Assembly, and now a lawmaker in Parliament and the Works Minister.
One can’t help but to wonder, how can one man adjust to such a rapid transition in lifestyle.
Works Minister Baru Bian, 59, however finds it surprisingly manageable, as he goes through it all just like how he would in “managing a big company”.
All his life, Baru has always been known as the people’s lawyer who has fought several dozen court cases in the past 25years. The Sarawak PKR chairman often had to take on ‘the big boys’ and sometimes the government, mainly in defending native customary rights (NCR) land in Sarawak.
After securing the Selangau constituency in GE14, the son of a pastor became a Member of Parliament for the first time, despite being the Ba’kelalan assemblyman since April 2011.Baru also became the first man from the Lun Bawang ethnic group to be appointed into the Federal Cabinet.
Speaking to Selangor Journal in an exclusive interview recently, Baru said his background as a lawyer had helped him prep himself up for a role as big as he his taking on today.
“I am a lawyer. The work so far has been such a challenge. We have sued all of the big boys in Sarawak, taking them and the (previous) government to court. That gave me the determination to fight and do what is right. Because of that it helped me to really prepare for any eventuality.”
“Definitely, there is a big change from being a lawyer, to opposition assemblyman to now Cabinet Minister in the new government. But to me, the process that I went through helped me to see things differently and to understand issues faced by the rakyat on the ground,” he said.
Although admitting that being a minister is much different from any hats that he has worn in the past, Baru said that shifting into a different role is still manageable as chairing meeting, managing a ministry and deciding on policies has much similarity to being a local leader within the community.
“The change of role is not that difficult and I am happy to be here. It is more like managing a big company; chairing meetings, making the right decision on policies,” he said.
Despite this, the father of three said that allocating personal time for himself and his family are becoming quite a big challenge lately, adding that time feels very precious now more than ever.
Nevertheless, he is thankful and finds it timely that his children are growing up to become
responsible, reliable and dependable adults, where all three seems to be following his footsteps in the path of legal practitioners with no pressure from him whatsoever.
“The role that I play now really takes a lot of time. It is appointments, meetings, briefings and that’s how it goes every day. But I guess it’s timely now that I moved to Kuala Lumpur.”
“It’s good that my children are all grown up now. My two sons are lawyers and have taken over my firm and my daughter is finishing her law studies in Adelaide, Australia. I never pressured them to take up law but apparently they themselves chose this profession on their own,” he said.
Now that it’s just him and his wife, Baru said that he tries to make the most of it together here in Kuala Lumpur, they both work very hard just to find time to be around each other.
“In time it has been reduced very much. My wife is here with me and even as we travel, we always try to do it together,” said Baru who has been married to his wife for 30years now.
To quote American educator and author Peter Drucker; time is the scarcest resource and unless it is managed nothing else can be managed. Baru Bian is the perfect example of someone who knows exactly how to manage not only his time, but also his ‘big company’, the Ministry of Works.