Hornbill Unleashed

December 15, 2009

Making out a case of Sexual Exploitation- A call for further investigations by the Police

By Zhang ML

A denial of rape allegations by a Penan woman made headlines in the Borneo Post on October 29. The article had a photo of an unidentified woman with her eyes blacked out and captioned “What? Me a Rape Victim?”

As I read the stories that have been unfolding since then, I cannot help concluding that this case falls within the range of the different types of sexual exploitation or exploitative relationships that girls and women find themselves caught in,.even if it is not rape.

For those of us who have been following the issue the past year or so in the mainstream and local Sarawak papers, it is safe to conclude that the woman who lodged a police report at the Long Lama police station is ‘Bibi’ (not her real name).

‘Bibi’ was interviewed at the Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) Shelter or Refuge in KL by four members of the task force set up in October 2008 by the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development to investigate the allegations of sexual abuses affecting Penan girls and women.

The Report of the Taskforce was made public after one year of being kept under wraps. None other than the Director-General of Jabatan Pembangunan Wanita (Women’s Development Department), Dr Noorul Ainur Mohd Nur was among the four team members who had interviewed ‘Bibi’ in KL before the task force came over to Sarawak.

The task force stated categorically in its findings that ‘Bibi’ had been raped twice by the same man. As a result, ‘Bibi’ bore two daughters.

While ‘Bibi’ was in KL in 2008, she filed a police report against the same man who goes by the name ‘Ah Heng’, and was called ‘Johnny’ in the task force report. According to ‘Bibi’, he has two other wives, one a Chinese, and the other a Penan woman as well.

Earlier reports in Borneo Post last October 2008 carried pictures of Ah Heng/Johnny being a responsible father and husband, weathering all odds to put food on the table for ‘Bibi’, his Penan ‘wife’ and family. One showed him crossing a swift flowing river at Long Item to reach the village. Another showed supplies purportedly provided by Ah Heng/Johnny in the kitchen of the place where Ah Heng and ‘Bibi’ stayed as a family, according to the Borneo Post.

In those earlier Borneo Post (BP) reports, he was called Ah Heng. Ah Heng was reported to have told BP reporters that he gives ‘a couple of hundred’ ringgit whenever she goes to town, and he sends monthly supplies to ‘Bibi’.

As was pointed out by Malaysiakini, it is likely Bibi was threatened or intimidated to lodge the said Long Lama police report to deny that the rapes ever happened to her. This report was filed one year after ‘Bibi’s’ trip to KL, staying with an unknown Malay family there.

Her self-proclaimed ‘husband’ Ah Heng/Johnny ( Photo Left ) was in Long Lama to accompany her to make the report, according to the BP. Of course he was!! He was there to make sure that she withdrew the initial police report that she had made in KL, so that the police would stop all investigations into the allegations of rape by ‘Bibi’ against him!

Baram district police chief DSP Jonathan Jalin confirmed receiving the report and said that the matter will be investigated further.

Earlier, the Sarawak Police Commissioner said that all four cases of Penan rapes by loggers in the task force report had been categorized at NFA “no further action’.

Contrast this with the instantaneous and wonderfully great speed that the Sarawak police got to work over the latest Long Lama report denying the rape allegations.

Since ‘Bibi’ has lodged this dubious Long Lama report, the Investigating Police Officer (presumably a lady officer from D11, otherwise known as the Sexual Crimes Unit) in charge of Bibi’s first report in KL is now duty bound to reopen the file and follow up with further investigations into her case.

It will not be terribly hard to locate ‘Bibi’ as she must be at the logging camp, with her supposedly ‘loving’ husband still employed by Interhill.

The Investigating Officer is required to investigate Bibi’s current and previous circumstances of living with this man Ah Heng/Johnny. She may be caught in an inescapable cycle of violence. This violence can take many forms, in a ‘home’ where violence is the order of the day, and of daily life.

This includes psychological and emotional violence, where the perpetrator exerts not physical force on his victim, but will subject her to threats of withdrawal of financial support, and deprivation of social contact with her family and others.

The aggressor may deprive her of basic needs such as food, and may hurl verbal abuse at her, aimed at bringing down the victim’s self-esteem as a woman, and as a person.

Financial or economic violence is the deprivation of sources of income, so that the victim is totally dependent on the perpetrator. The perpetrator thus achieves maximum control over the victim.

Research has consistently shown that the purpose and intention of all forms of domestic violence is to achieve domination and wield control over the victim.

The definition of ‘husband and wife’ in the Domestic Violence Act 1994 also includes couples who live in a de facto relationship, as ‘Bibi’ and Ah Heng seem to be.

Civil society calls on the Investigating Officer to wake up! Pay attention, and look for signs of domestic violence and sexual exploitation suffered by Bibi. Do not be distracted by the police report that she had been ‘conned’ into going to KL to seek treatment for her daughter’s sickness – this has no credibility at all.

Did Bibi know of the implications of making a false report? Or was she forced to make this latest report?

if indeed ‘Bibi’ had been duped to go to KL by an unidentified Penan man, this allegation never surfaced in the series of interviews conducted by Bukit Aman D11 officers while she was there. Were they so blind? Remember these officers are trained and experienced in their job!

As the respected activist Colin Nicholas, of the Center for Orang Asli Concerns (COAC) and the Penan Support Group, said to Malaysiakini, “Can the police have been so stupid?

The findings of the ministerial taskforce indeed confirm the range of sexual exploitation happening in the Baram area. The cases documented include:

· molestation of school students by drivers of vehicles,

· rapes by logging company employees,

· short-term relationships, where cohabitation is only for a short period of the man’s employment in that area, after which the woman is left abandoned, with children.

If the vulnerabilities are not quickly addressed the above range of abuses will continue to occur …with the blessings of the rich and powerful…



  1. sure someone bail them out la….

    Even our DG can chicken out and changes the report on their finding about the forest management in sarawak and he’s only threaten by the a minister….not yet white termites…

    The case in Long Lellang recently; when Shin Yang log the “Temuda and to the extend of cutting down rubber trees and entering the water catchment area. 2 police report been launched and SFC rep even visited the site…. its already 3 month and there no action yet…. The SFC rep dont even dare to submit or give a copy of the report to teh person who made the police report!!!!

    Right now the Timber company…..pukul tak masuk punya la…. ada ilmu kebal semua…..

    Comment by falcon.... — January 3, 2010 @ 3:43 PM | Reply

  2. Interhill… that rings a bell because in the mid 1990s, I came across that company being sued. But I guess they managed to bail out of trouble then.

    Comment by dee — December 16, 2009 @ 9:03 PM | Reply

  3. “…‘loving’ husband still employed by Interhill …”

    Is that so?

    Wonder if the husband might have employee benefits like a free room annually from Pullman Hotel Kuching!

    Comment by waterfront — December 15, 2009 @ 12:06 PM | Reply

  4. Why Do Malays Need Alien To Speak For Them?

    Comment by Mr X — December 15, 2009 @ 1:57 AM | Reply

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