A young Penan mother and her baby leaving their old longhouse at Long Tangau to their new resettlement village at Metalun last Sunday. – The Malaysian Insider pic, December 3, 2013.The 77-day Penan blockade of the Murum hydroelectric dam has been lifted, following an extra RM8,000 offered to each family.
The end of the blockade was announced yesterday by one of the state’s Native Customary Rights (NCR) land lawyers, Abun Sui Anyit.
Anyit, who is also offering legal assistance to the protesting Penans, said they had been “strong-armed by the state government into accepting a token compensation package”. (more…)
According to their lawyer, the Penans were forced into accepting a RM23,000 compensation per family, RM8,000 more than the previous offer.
MURUM: The Penans here have been forced to concede defeat and abandon their blockades after 77 days as impoundment of the contentious Murum Dam continued.
According to villagers, flooding will soon drown their longhouses, logging roads and bridges, completely destroying their lives and livelihood. (more…)
This picture taken last month shows banners proclaiming dissatisfaction with the Baram dam project.
Sarawak is bullying its indigenous people with a compensation package that has been called “a joke” for those who have been displaced by a dam project in Malaysia’s largest state, an activist told The Malaysian Insider.
Peter Kallang, chairman of Save Sarawak Rivers, trashed the package which Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud said “is probably among the best in the world”. (more…)
Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud (pic, left) has stood his ground and said that the state government will not pay an extra sen to the 100 Penan families displaced by the Murum hydroelectric dam project.
Describing their cash demands as “outrageous”, Taib said the government will not budge and pointed out that the demands “would be rejected anywhere in the world”.
The 100 Penan families, who have set up a blockade on the access road to the dam site, are demanding RM500,000 compensation for each family while the state government is only prepared to pay RM15,000 per family. (more…)
An undated photo of the Penans protesting against the construction of the dam in Murum.
Some 30 human rights and environmental non-governmental organisations have sent letters to 15 Malaysian missions worldwide calling for “good faith negotiations” with more than 100 Penan families who are displaced by the Murum hydroelectric dam project in Sarawak.
The organisations which represent national, regional and international civil society groups are also demanding that the Sarawak state government re-negotiate the compensation package which was offered to the Penan families. (more…)
William Mangor and P Ramani
Meanwhile a 13-member Penan delegation which is in Kuala Lumpur detailed their dire straits to a coalition of civil and women’s rights NGOs led by All Women’s Action Society (AWAM).
While a group of natives from Murum are currently in Kuala Lumpur exposing to West Malaysians the severity and urgency of their situation, their families are continuing with the blockades insisting that the state government meet their demands.
Penan and Kenyah community lawyer Abun Sui Anyit said today that the protestors in Murum will not backdown on their demands despite the police intimidation, harrassment and the authorities having severed access to food water and medicines. (more…)
Green Party MP Kim Booth has brought up in the Tasmanian Parliament state-owned Hydro Tasmania’s involvement in the contentious Murum Dam and the human rights violations against the Penans in Sarawak.
The Tasmanian Parliament has called on its government to intervene immediately and compel the Sarawak administration to compensate the Penans affected by the Murum Hydropower Dam project.
The Penans have hit a stalemate on their negotiations with state government and the Murum Dam main contractors Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) over compensation and resettlement issues.
Thirteen members of the Penan tribe in Murum, Sarawak travelled all the way to Bukit Aman today to handover a memorandum to the Inspector General of Police demanding that the police “stop immediately any intimidation and provocation” towards the Penans who have erected bloackades at the Murun dam site (more…)
Fourteen representatives of the Penan community marched to Parliament House today, demanding a stop their eviction from their ancestral land, which has been taken over for a mega-dam in Belaga, Sarawak.
They went to the Opposition Leader’s office to hand over a memorandum that also asks Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak to ensure a consultation process between them and the authorities.
Two hours earlier, they had gone to Bukit Aman police headquarters to hand over a memorandum urging the police force to behave in neutral manner over the blockade they have mounted near the Murum Dam. (more…)
A group of Penan have descended on the federal capital from Sarawak and they will hold protests outside the federal police headquarters in Bukit Aman and go to Parliament tomorrow to get the authorities to look into their plight.
They will be meeting with Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar at Bukit Aman, in the morning and submit a memorandum to him to get the police in Sarawak to stop harassing them.
After meeting Khalid, they will walk to Parliament House to report the Sarawak government’s discrimination of the Penan community to the MPs. (more…)
The quite shocking duplicity of Sarawak Energy (SEB)’s full-force propaganda drive has been exposed once again by a simple film.
In this latest documentary from Tegulang, the resettled Penan from Murum have been allowed to speak for themselves, instead of having SEB and Bernama speak for them to tame journalists.
And the very Penan leader, Pengulu Pao Tului, whom SEB portrayed for months as the man who willingly negotiated with them, has gone on camera to slam the way his community has been treated. (more…)
A Penan lawyer-cum-activist has called on the IGP and the federal government to intervene in the Murum issue.
MURUM: Penan protestors mounting blockades at the Murum Dam site here claimed policemen who intimidated and harassed them were drunk.
Penan activist cum lawyer Abun Sui Anyit said based on ground reports from the blockade site, the police officers stationed in the area were allegedly being provided alcohol by the dam’s main contractors Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB). (more…)
On November 7th, the Norwegian head of Sarawak Energy took great care to make his accusations against the Penan tribespeople at the Murum Dam blockade as public as possible, by insisting on broadcasting them in full on our site.
In an email to the Swiss NGO BMF, which he copied into our comments section, he claimed that these families had been extorting money from members of the public, by setting up a toll on the public road. (more…)
Peter Sibon & Joanna Yap
Two more Penans have been arrested yesterday afternoon in relation to the Murum dam blockade.
They were arrested when they went to the Belaga police station to visit their relatives who were among the eight Penans arrested the day before, according to Sarawak Conservation Alliance of Natural Environment (SCANE) chairman Raymond Abin who has been keeping in touch with the protestors.
The two individuals have been identified as 16-year-old Philip Bujang and 21-year-old Merit Gadong. (more…)
The eight Penans, whom police arrested at a blockade on the access road to the Murum hydroelectric dam in Ulu Belaga, Sarawak, Thursday afternoon, have been remanded for three days until Sunday.
Their lawyer, Abun Sui Anyit, said they were being held under Section 341 of the penal code.
Under the section, the arrested Penans, aged between 12 and 60 years old, would be in police custody until a magistrate could hear their case. (more…)
- PRESS STATEMENT – SUARAM Condemns Crackdown in Murum : Protesters, Including Children, Arrested and Detained
SUARAM condemns ongoing harassment of Penan communities in Murum and Baram. Yesterday (7 November 2013), saw another action from the Royal Malaysian Police which clearly shows the failed role of the police force. Eight Penan who have been blockading against the Murum damsince August were arrested yesterday and brought to the Belaga Police Station. (more…)
Eight Penans including their leader Ngang Buling are now being detained at the Belaga Police station following their arrests yesterday afternoon at a new blockade site which they erected at the Murum dam access road near Sungai Majoh Kecil within the dam site.
They have moved to this new site since Tuesday from the previous one to ensure that no workers or officials from Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) enter the dam site unless their demands are met.
In arresting them, some 80 police personnel, including 40 members of the Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) were involved in the operation against the Penan. (more…)
Penan families affected by the Murum Dam have accused Sarawak Energy Bhd (SEB) of trying to mislead them and the general public into believing that they would receive RM213.3 million in compensation for their longhouses and infrastructure facilities
Peliran-Murum Penan Affairs Committee (Pemupa) chairperson Ngang Buling vehemently refuted the claims today and said there was no truth in the SEB statement.
“The Penan are shocked by the claim, which to them is all rubbish,” said Ngang.
He was commenting on a ‘blanket statement’ issued by SEB on the payment of compensation to the Penan communities affected by Murum Dam hydroelectric project (MDHEP) in the Belaga district. (more…)
The government has dispatched more police personnel including 43 members of the Public Order Riot Unit (PORU) to the Murum dam site in Belaga in an effort to arrest 40 Penans said to be involved in putting up blockades to protect against the impoundment of the dam.
Last Wednesday, their leader Ngang Buling, was arrested and detained, but was released on Friday on police bail.
He is to be charged under Section 448 of the Penal Code for trespassing and is expected to appear in court on Nov 4, 2013. (more…)
Human rights NGO Suaram has condemned police action against Penan protesters fighting against the impoundment of the Murum dam, urging the police to instead protect the indigenous people.
Suaram coordinator R Thevarajan said that by arresting a protester and breaking up the blockade the community had put up to halt progress on the dam, the police are siding with the exploiters instead of the rakyat.
“We urge the Royal Malaysian Police to safeguard law and justice and to protect the interests of the Penan people instead of taking the side of the exploiters. (more…)
The Penan and Kenyah communities have lodged a police report after their pleas were allegedly ignored by the state government and Sarawak Energy Berhad.
MIRI: Penans affected by the alleged unannounced impoundment of the Murum Dam have lodged a police report against the Sarawak government and the main contractors Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB).
In the police report lodged yesterday, they claimed that SEB had failed to notify them of the impoundment and that most members of the community are yet to move to the new resettlement sites and are at risk.
They said the community was still in negotiations with the state government and as such SEB’s action to impound the Murum Dam was illegal. (more…)
A tense situation prevailed at the Murum Dam blockade when 30 police officers confronted 300 Penan protestors who offered themselves for arrest.
MURUM: Police moving in to stop the ongoing blockade by Penans on the road to the Murum Dam construction site arrested a protestor and fired a shot in the air to “stop” the people.
Ngang Buling, a Penan from the Murum region, was arrested this morning for reasons as yet unknown. Police are holding him at the Belaga station for questioning.
Quoting Ngang Buling, Save Rivers Network, a coalition of NGOs said the police are likely to hold him for four days. (more…)
Police from Belaga fired shots into the air to stop more than 300 protesters who also wanted to be arrested after a protester, Ngang Buling, was arrested at their Murum dam blockade site at 10.10am today.
Save Sarawak Rivers Network (Save) chairperson Peter Kalang said after Ngang was arrested, some 300 others who were guarding the blockade rushed to the police personnel and demanded that they be arrested as well.
“The police feared some untoward incident might take place and fired shots into the air to stop the action of the protesters,” Kalang said in a message to Malaysiakini. (more…)
Penan representatives demanding higher compensation from the state government and its energy company for their settlement land have lodged a police report in Miri over the move by Sarawak Energy Bhd (SEB) to impound the Murum hydroelectric dam.
The Penans want the impoundment stopped and are said to among other demand half-a-million ringgit compensation per family.
The group came to the coastal Miri city all the way from their deep jungle home, which will be submerged once the dam is filled with water in a year’s time.
They claimed SEB gave no notice when it started work to fill the reservoir. (more…)
A Sarawak-based NGO which has been accused of instigating Penans to stage blockades against the Murum HEP has hit back at the Sarawak Energy Board (SEB).Penans staged blockades on their own will, and reports of Sarawak Energy contractors burning their old longhouses came directly from the victims, claims SAVE Rivers Network.
SAVE Rivers Network chairman Peter Kallang said: “It’s a lie. SEB is trying to paint the picture that we (the NGOs) are trying to instigate the people there.
“In fact, we were never even there.” (more…)
The Sarawak government-owned Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) started the impoundment of the RM4 billion Murum dam at Ulu Belaga yesterday, ignoring the plight of the Penans from six villages who are currently mounting a blockade.
“More than 100 Penans from Long Wat, Long Luar, Long Tangau, Long Menapa, Long Singu and Long Malim which are upstream of the Murum river, have since last week erected a blockade.
“They are protesting against the failure of the government to fulfil its promises as SEB, the owner of Murum dam, started the impoundment on Sunday,” said Raymond Abin, national coordinator of the Sarawak Conservation Alliance for Natural Environment (SCANE). (more…)
Despite many challenges, a Christian-Muslim dialogue at a church in Penang last night went on smoothly amid heavy presence of policemen.
Even the protesters who were against it attended the two-hour session at St. Mark’s Church to listen to what was being discussed.
The dialogue was organised by PAS’s Parit Buntar Member of Parliament Datuk Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa (pic) and the party’s Tasik Gelugor information chief Abdul Rahman Kasim, and Reverend John Kennedy from the Anglican church. (more…)
The Sarawak government’s policy of prioritising the protection of flora and fauna rather than the survival of the Penan community has received severe criticisms from lawyer and human rights activist Harrison Ngau.
“The state government is giving priority to the protection and preservation of plants and animals at the expense of the Penan, whose livelihood and survival depend on the forests surrounding them,” Ngau said.
Ngau (left), who is also chairperson of the Baram PKR division, was commenting on the move by the government to gazette the Suling-Selaan forest in Ulu Baram as a national park. (more…)
Native communities affected by the Murum hydroelectric project have begun the shift to their new homes in the resettlement scheme in Tegulang, upstream Bakun
BELAGA: Eighty-nine Penan families from Long Wat who are affected by the impoundment of the Murum hydro electric project (HEP) have been relocated to a new village resettlement scheme in Tegulang.
Tegulang is in upstream Bakun and according to Belaga assemblyman Liwan Lagang the new village’s location was ‘chosen’ by the Penans themselves.
“The site of the new homes was selected by the affected residents during a SEIA (Social and Environmental Impact Assessment) process. (more…)
Progress? Taib made billions out of their timber and lands and is now making billions from Murum Dam. Yet these Penan have been forced to live in a converted chicken coop at Sungai Asap.
Dear Prime Minister – As you know, Malaysia voted in favour of the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on Indigenous Rights (UNDRIP) and is a signatory to the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.
Malaysia is also a member of the International Finance Corporation (formulator of the World Bank’s sustainability framework) and Sarawak Energy is a Board Member of the International Hydropower Association, which has produced a protocol governing the building of dams. (more…)
Families gathered at outdoor camps – last October’s Murum blockade was joined by women and children for several weeks
Sarawak Energy adopted a familiar tactic towards the renewal of the blockade at Murum by the indigenous Penan people at the weekend.
They patronised them, by complaining that they had been “instigated” by un-named NGOs.
Over the past days there have been reports that scores of the indigenous tribes people have again brought the construction site on their lands to a grinding halt. (more…)
Protestors at the Murum site last year
As the flood waters prepare to rise at Sarawak’s latest dam site in Murum, highly disturbing evidence has been passed to Sarawak Report concerning the use of indentured labour (a form of illegal slavery) on the project.
Thousands of Chinese, Burmese, Bagladeshi and Pakistani workers were imported to build the dam, in what was pristine rainforest and the traditional territory of the semi-nomadic Western Penan.
Some, who have escaped, told reporters last week that they were not being paid. (more…)
Two members of a national taskforce that had investigated complaints of sexual abuse by Penan women in Sarawak have welcomed a federal minister’s pledge to meet them to review the situation.
Representatives of the Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) and Women’s Centre for Change (WCC) suggested that this would return the focus to implementation of the recommendations of the taskforce.
WAO executive director Ivy Josiah(left) said she looks forward to meeting Women, Community and Family Development Minister Rohani Abdul Karim, who said late last month that she wants first-hand information on progress of implementation. (more…)
Rohani Abdul Karim, the new minister for women, family and community development, has a greater and more urgent task than simply to “revisit” Penan communities in middle Baram “soon”.
She intends to study the outcome of recommendations of the ministry’s 2008 task force that had confirmed Penan girls had been sexually violated by loggers.
Rohani (left) appears clueless regarding the systemic failure to address the socio-economic plight of rural women from the Penan and other ethnic groups in Baram.
“During the revisit, we will be going through all the recommendations and see how many have been implemented. For those recommendations that have not been implemented, we will take it from there,” she promised the Borneo Post on July 30. (more…)
The first-term Sarawak state assembly representative for Telang Usan in Baram, Dennis Ngau, has spread ripples of disbelief and laughter in the social media following his remarks on the rape of Penan women and schoolgirls.
Ngau made his remarks in response to a PKR accusation that Women, Family and Community Development Minister Rohani Abdul Karim, had misled a regional forum by making a verifiably incorrect claim. The minister had said that the recommendations of her ministry’s Task Force Report, on sexual violence by loggers in Baram, had already been carried out. (more…)
Telang Usan assemblyman Dennis Ngau puts his foot in his mouth when he confessed to not having read the National Task Force Report on social problems in Sarawak.
A knee-jerk reaction by a Barisan Nasional assemblyman has left him and federal Women, Family and Community Development Minister Rohani Abdul Karim in an embarrassing position.
Telang Usan assemblyman Dennis Ngau who came to Rohani’s defence after a local opposition representative chastised her for misleading the Asean Commission on women and children, candidly confessed that he had not even read the National Taskforce Report which also addressed sexual abuse of Penans. (more…)
Women, Family and Community Development Minister Rohani Abdul Karim will visit the Penan community in Sarawak to review the implementation of recommendations made in a 2009 report on sexual assault against Penan women.Rohani said most of the recommendations listed in the National Taskforce Report, which listed steps to combat problems in areas of sexual abuse, birth registration and citizenship, healthcare and education, have been executed.
She said the visit would be to examine how much response and attention the taskforce had received since its establishment.
“Most of it has been done already. We’re going to revisit (the Penan community in Baram Tengah) to see how much (response) it has received,” she told Malaysiakini at the sidelines of a forum in Kuala Lumpur today. (more…)
Women, Family and Community Development Minister Rohani Abdul Karim will most likely visit the Penan community in Baram, Sarawak after Hari Raya to discuss the implementation of the ministry’s recommendations to address sexual assault against Penan women.
The ministry’s deputy secretary-general (operations) Sabariah Hassan said this in response to queries about the minister’s commitment in solving the problems faced by the Penan.
“I think (Rohani will visit them) after Hari Raya. We will inform you when she visits,” she told a press conference at the Women Street Crime Awareness Campaign at the Great Eastern Mall in Kuala Lumpur today. (more…)
The Penan of Baram in Sarawak thought their lives would change for the better after the National Taskforce was set up in 2009 to study their problems.
However, four years later, Amelia Balan, 22, and other Penan women continue to suffer the same problems plaguing their village in Baram Tengah.
The promises of the government to offer them protection from sexual attacks, birth registration and citizenship problems and water and healthcare facilities have yet to be fulfilled.
Disappointed with the stagnant developments in her village, Amelia (left), has come forward with four other Penan women to ask new Women, Family and Community Development Minister Rohani Abdul Karim to deal with the matters affecting her people. (more…)
They said despite a government’s task force having recommended specific actions in the areas of sexual abuse, citizenship registrations, healthcare and education in 2009, nothing has been done.
When 22-year-old Amelia Balan first heard about the recommendations put forward by the federal government’s Penan Task Force report in 2009, she thought that her life in the remote Long Itam village in Sarawak would improve.
However, four years later, she and Penan folks in the Baram Tengah region are still stuck with the same old problems – the lack of protection from sexual abuses, water supply, healthcare facilities, education opportunities, with many of them not having identification cards. (more…)
Jarni Blakkarly and Tharshinaa Chandran
A group of 36 NGOs and five Penan women want the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry to expedite the implementation of the National Taskforce Report it produced in 2008 to improve the livelihood of the Penan community.
The new minister, Rohani Abdul Karim, has agreed to meet with the group at a later date in Baram, once she returns to Malaysia, Penan Support Group representative Liza Bong said today.
“We want to raise the needs of the Penan community with her, as these have not been addressed since the report was published in 2008,” Bong (on the left) said at a press conference at the All Women’s Action Society (Awam) headquarters today. (more…)
Low Chia Ming
A candlelight vigil by some 30 people in front of Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) showing solidarity with detained student Adam Adli Abdul Halim was disrupted by a rowdy group last night.
The thugs, numbering about 10, shoved a student and Suaram coordinator Sean Ho and hit two journalists on their arms during the vigil.
Police Special Branch officers and Universiti Sains Malaysia security personnel were present, but they did not take any action against the thugs.
The vigil began about 8.20pm with the singing of theNegaraku, followed by several brief talks given by participants. (more…)
The sleepy town of Batu Kawan, tucked away in the southern corridor of Penang, came alive last night when thousands, dressed in black, made their way to the stadium for the second leg of Pakatan Rakyat’s Black 505 rally.
Held three days after 120,000 people showed up for a similar rally in Kuala Lumpur, Penang drew an equally large crowd, who were joined by those from two neighbouring states – Kedah and Perak.
There were also participants from Selangor and Negri Sembilan as well, who waved their state flags incessantly amidst Pakatan’s rocket (DAP), moon (PAS) and eye (PKR) symbols. (more…)
The Malaysian Insider
Pakatan Rakyat leaders take a pledge at their recent convention in Penang. BN has an uphill task to make waves in the state.
Given no chance of eating into Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) commanding position in Penang, Barisan Nasional (BN) now believes it can make waves on election day.
PR now controls 29 out of the 40 state seats in Penang, with Umno holding the remaining 11 constituencies. Gerakan and the MCA lost in all the seats they contested in 2008. (more…)
The state and federal governments must pay swift attention to NCR land issues and welfare of the Penan community.
More than 2,000 Penans from seven Penan villages in Sungai Patah and three in Long Akah in Baram are facing simultaneous double threats – indiscriminate logging and the proposed construction of the Baram Dam.
Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) president SM Mohamed Idris said that SAM has been informed by Penan villagers in Sungai Patah, Baram, that loggers have encroached into their native customary rights (NCR) land. (more…)
To ensure that prevailing views remain, Penang Pakatan Rakyat is sticking to its 2008 formula of the DAP contesting 19 state seats, PKR 16 and five by PAS against Umno’s 15, Gerakan’s 13, MCA’s 10 and two by the MIC.
This saves the coalition unnecessary conflicts, such as being embroiled in intra-party rivalries, given what took place in Johor recently, with the DAP and PKR leaders publicly condemning each other in their fight for certain seats
“We will maintain the status quo in Penang. That is confirmed,” said state DAP election director Ng Wei Aik (left), brushing aside any chance of such conflicts cropping up. (more…)