Hornbill Unleashed

July 17, 2010

Shahrizat: the people’s champion?

By Rosita Maja

Minister for Women, Family and Community Development has said: “The Penan community should know that now they have someone to champion their cause and that is us.”

On July 6, the Penan Support Group (PSG), a coalition of 36 NGOs, released a report, “A wider context of sexual exploitation of Penan women and girls in Middle and Ulu Baram, Sarawak, Malaysia” in Parliament. The PSG brought to light more incidents of rape, sexual abuse and exploitation of Penan girls and women by timber workers.

The report provided evidence that of all the cases documented, the perpetrators are outsiders. All the cases involved loggers and timber camps.

In 2008, the National Taskforce Report by the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development had confirmed that the allegations of rape and sexual abuse and exploitation of the Penan girls and women are true. The report was prepared at the end of 2008 but released only in September 2009 under intense pressure from Pakatan Rakyat.

However Sharizat the Minister, only managed to go in to take a look at the Penan settlements on July 13, 22 months after the initial press reports of loggers’ rape of the Penan in the Star in September 2008, and a year and a half after her ministry’s taskforce report was given to her. And now she is telling the Penans that she will champion their cause?

Please be reminded that the Penan have been suffering for decades, and nothing has been done even after the release of the National Taskforce Report in 2009, after nearly a year of refusing to make the report public.

Sharizat and the whole ministry had been sitting on the matter for nearly two years!

Fortunately, a women’s NGO in Sarawak, the Sarawak Women For Women Society (SWWS) had started on some empowerment programmes for the rural girls and women, educating the rural girls, including the Penan how to protect themselves and say “no” to rape and violence.

Fatimah Abdullah, Chairperson of the Sarawak Women and Family Council, told the Star that the government had always advocated justice for such cases, and she added that her council is working with the Sarawak Women For Women Society on the empowerment programmes for the rural girls.

But this is not totally true.

We know that the empowerment programme was carried out by the society’s volunteers and that Fatimah and her council was not in the picture at all or engaged in any of the trips for the empowerment programmes!

We do hope that politicians do not distort facts for their political mileage but earned their publicity!

From the media reports, we have learnt that several concerned women from civil society have personally delivered the Penan Support Group (PSG ) report to Shahrizat on her visit to Kuching on July 12, calling on her and the government to address the Penan rape issue.

We can only hope that Shahrizat can walk the talk and Fatimah too.

We know that both Shahrizat and Fatimah are very photogenic in the papers and media, but we need performance too – performance for the people!


  1. “Big people ” coming in to visit us ? We need the ” big people ” to do justice not mere visits !

    Yet the area that sharizat and police went was a tourist spot ! Not the area where logging camps are !

    Comment by Penan Girl — July 17, 2010 @ 6:11 PM | Reply

  2. No, she is not the champion. She’s a loser. She lost the 2008 election. What can a loser do? Yes, follow the leader!

    Comment by myrayza — July 17, 2010 @ 1:14 PM | Reply

  3. guess she has more time for the cattle biz. after getting a quarter of billion (read my lips, its billion though only a quarter) from the govt for his twenty something son, surely thats a priority aint it? well, i watch with interest to see whether its another UMNO-like enrichment project. Penans can wait coz the cattles are more important, no?

    Comment by aca — July 17, 2010 @ 12:34 PM | Reply

    • What cattle is that?

      What cattle bizness is that? cattle for meat or milk?

      Aren’t Penans cattle to her?

      Go to Mulu Resort and tell the world she went to see Penans to champion them?

      Comment by Watcha — July 17, 2010 @ 6:40 PM | Reply

  4. This nation does not need this BN govt because this govt is a “feel good” sandiwara govt. It doesn’t care for the country nor does it care for the people. Sarawakians and Sabahans, since joining the Federation, what have the original bumpiputras gotten? Labuan is totally umno-nised, much of the rainforests are wiped out, oil money is siphoned off, poverty is an everpresent shadow, and infrastructure is as it was 30+ years ago – nonexistent in the rural areas, WHILE billions are spent of nonsensical expeditures that serve to inflate the bank accounts of BN and cronies.
    The Rakyat of Semenanjung have taken the first step on 080308, and we need our fellow Rakyat over in East Malaysia to make the final push to stop these parasites and destroyer of goodness.
    Take back your very own fixed deposit and make it work for you rather than against you. If not, you will continue to be robbed, pillaged, raped and your land plundered.
    Malaysia for The Rakyat, and The Rakyat for Malaysia!

    Comment by Old Uncle — July 17, 2010 @ 9:48 AM | Reply

  5. What can you say about Shahrizat? She has lost her zeal since she was dumped by the voters in the 12th general election. If not for the generosity Badawi who appointed her, she’d be long gone by now and good riddance too. As for Fatimah, don’t you get sick of seeing her pictures in the Borneo Post almost daily, usually talking gibberish about some stupid and irrelevant subjects just to get public attention. She thinks everyday is election day.

    Comment by apaijuga — July 17, 2010 @ 9:09 AM | Reply

  6. “…So in January, after losing in court he used strong arm tactics instead. He sent in police and bullies to tear down the village in revenge. The gangs pulled down many houses and destroyed villagers possessions leaving them without food or shelter. …

    Signs of hate crime as SarawakReport wrote in their Feb 2010 article.

    Comment by Watcha — July 17, 2010 @ 1:16 AM | Reply

  7. “…The Penan community should know that now they have someone to champion their cause and that is us…”

    That woman has the nerve to say this. Shahrizat lost her seat to Nur Izzah and she has no standing or record, as a politician to champion anyone. Nether does the UMNO, who now seems to beg some kind recognition from PAS. They’re trying to flirt again. That might be something typical of an UMNO member like Shahrizat. This is the whole point of most things gone wrong in our coutry.

    The BN gomen has no legitimacy to rule and has no interest other than their own to make politics work for the economy or the economic for politics. If you talk about the disfranchisement of the Penans that would represent the same transgress against other citizens. It isn’t odd for them to empower illegal immigrants who are allowed to vote in our system. The state of the union has gone berserk!

    It is as if BN is practising sadism, masochism – they just love to make citizens squirm in the dirt, lose their sense of human dignity. For what so we’ll grovel at their feet? Fat chance!!!

    There is a valid psycho-medical contention, in this age, that rape and sexual exploitation is hate crime and it speaks bad for a government in the first decade of the millennium. The PM himself said last night that by 2019, we’ll be kaput. So much for 2020 by which time we might so myopic we’d be be blind rats on an animal farm!

    If there’s any shred of decency left, we should have the General election in the next 90 days. Time for talking is over.

    Comment by Watcha — July 17, 2010 @ 12:55 AM | Reply

    • You said it all Watcha! This mamak woman imagines she’s bollywood star. Tell me after she was rejected by the people, Najib brought her in from back door – something he owes her for standing up to Rafidah, what has Sharizat done for the womenfolk? Where has she been all these while when the Penan women and young girls screamed “RRRRRRRRRRRR AAAAAAAAAAA PPPPPPPPPPP EEEEE RAPE”!!
      Now you see her face because the Sarawak State election is round the corner.

      Comment by Jong — July 18, 2010 @ 9:48 AM | Reply

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