The government’s plan to relocate about 1,000 Penans affected by the Murum Dam project to a 24,000 hectares area has been described as “merely paying lip service”. “We still don’t know how the government came to a decision on the size of the area without consulting us,” said Ramlie Bujang, a spokesman for the Peleiran-Murum Penan Affair Committee (Pemupa).
Land Development Minister James Jemut Masing recently revealed that the government will alienate 24,000 hectares of the land in upper Murum for the Penans.
“This revelation would be another lip service from the minister,” Ramlie said.
Pemupa represents more than 1,000 residents from six Penan villages: Long Singu, Long Luar, Long Tangau, Long Pelutan (Menapa), Long Malim, Long Wat as well as the Kenyah-Badeng of Long Umba who are directly affected by Murum Dam project.
They include Metalon River area in upper Peleiran as proposed by four villages – Long Singu, Long Luar, Long Tangau and Long Pelutan (Menapa), the upper Tegulang River area as proposed by Long Wat village and, the upper Malim-Danum area as proposed by two villages of Long Malim and Long Umba.
He said the respective Penans proposed these areas as their resettlement areas because they are still rich with forest resources needed to sustain their daily livelihood.
“We want our forest in these areas to be preserved and free from any kind of human development activities such as logging and large scale plantations,” he said.
Revoke plantation leases
Ramlie also urged the government to revoke the provisional leases for plantations in upper Murum area, and immediately stop companies from further exploitating forests in the area.
“Pemupa is shocked to learn that the state government has leased the Murum catchment area to Shin Yang Forestry Sdn Bhd for an oil palm plantation.
“It is disturbing to learn that the areas which we proposed as resettlement areas have been parceled out for oil palm plantations.
“We have found out that Shin Yang Company has started clearing and felling the forest for oil palm plantation in Metalon River area without our consent.
“The clearing of forest by the Shin Yang within the proposed Metalon resettlement area will adversely affect our livelihood in the near future,” said Ramlie.
Pemupa strongly urged the government to alienate land for the Penans before the Murum hydroelectric power (HEP) Dam is completed.
“We have seen the failure and unfulfilled promises of the government to the people at the Bakun Asap-Koyan resettlement scheme, no land at all has been alienated to them.
“It is with anxiety and grave concern for our community over the ongoing construction of Murum dam project that we made our stand to the government.
“However, our voices have fallen on deaf ears,” added Ramlie.