The first time this scribe heard the word "Penan" was way back in late 80's. That was when a kwailo, Bruno Manser, overstayed Taib Mahmud's welcome in Sarawak. Then, the word "Penan" and "Bruno Manser" is synonymous and complement each other to the chagrin of Sarawak BN government. MSM wrote about the "Penan blockade" and painted "Penans" as a nomadic tribe who were against development and de-forestation. Bruno Manser managed to stay in Taib Mahmud's radar from 1984 to 1990 before disappearing in 2000.
In 2008, reports of Penan girls were raped by logging company workers hit the news. However, the impact was just not there. Both federal and Sarawak authorities whitewashed the claims, disputing it as hearsay. The police were of no help either when the investigations were painstakingly slow, just because the victims are from the interior jungles of Sarawak. Then...BANG..the government report confirming Penan girls were raped was handed over to one Zuraida Kamaruddin (PKR women chief) on September 8 2009. The report confirmed various cases where Penan girls were sexually abused by logging companies workers.
Prior to the report, STAR told of the plight to bring food aid to Penans in central Sarawak with the ever friendly Zorro questioning on the lack of response from the military (to build bailey bridges), Mercy and Red Cross to help our Penan brothers.
In conjunction with celebrating 46 years of Malaysia, our Penan brothers are pleading our help. How will Malaysia responds? Think about these :-
- Why didn't Sarawak government under Taib Mahmud's leadership resolve the issue of NCR (native Customary Rights) land for the Penans? ;
- Why did the Sarawak government grant timber concessions to timber companies deep inside the jungle, encroaching Penans' NCR land? ;
- Why didn't the Sarawak government provide sufficient information to the Penans regarding the logging activities? ;
- Why didn't the Sarawak government provide adequate infrastucture and logistic support to the Penans? ;
- Why didn't the Sarawak state government provide sufficient aid to the Penans? ;
- Why didn't Sarawak government discuss with the Penans on ways to end the blockade ?;
- Why didn't the Sarawak government provide sufficient hostels for Penan students? ;
- Why didn't the government provide enough rangers and officers to take care of the Penans ?;
- Why didn't the police act on Penans girls claim of being rape and sexually assaulted ?;
- Why didn't the Penans plight and lack of food conveyed to the federal government ?;
- why didn't the federal government provide developments to the Penans or resettle them ?;
- why were the Penans not compensated for the loss of NCR land, natural hunting grounds etc ?;
Malaysians have been quick to provide monetary and physical help to Palestine, Indonesia, India, Bangladesh, China during natural disasters but we failed to look the sufferings of Penans under our own nose. Whose fault is this?
Don't you feel that 46 years is already sufficient for us to integrate as a nation? To go forward together in meeting the global challenge? If so, why are we leaving the Penans, our brother from Sarawak, behind? It is time for us to look within and ask ourselves - are we doing enough for Malaysia?
Till then...G'nite M'sia...wherever u are...