Hornbill Unleashed

October 19, 2012

‘Penans protesting against dam since 2009′

Joseph Tawie

Senior Minister Awang Tengah Ali Hassan’s claim that NGOs with ‘ulterior motives’ are misleading the Penan community has showed up his ignorance, says SAVE Rivers Network.

SAVE Rivers Network (SAVE Rivers) a coalition of a number of non-governmental organisations, has slammed the Second Resource Management and Environment Awang Tengah Ali Hassan who claimed that the Penans in Murum have been led astray by certain quarters with ulterior motives.

“It is utterly false to say that the Penans are being made use of by NGOs,” said Peter Kallang, chairperson of SAVE Rivers, adding that it showed up his ignorance.

“The indigenous Penan communities of Murum Dam have been against this mega-project from the beginning in 2009 when a group of Penans had sent a petition saying no to the dam to the Chief Minister of Sarawak.

“Some petitioners were arrested instead. So to say that the villagers are being made used of by NGOs is utterly false,” he said.

Kallang was commenting on remarks made by Awang Tengah that the Penans who recently erected blockades to the proposed Murum Dam had been “led astray” by certain quarters with “ulterior motives”.

He said it was the only explanation as to why Penans resorted to using blockades only now when the dam is 70% completed.

“Sometimes, the people are being made use of by non-governmental organisations (NGOs), be it local or foreign. The Murum Dam was announced years ago and why no blockade then?

“It is very clear that they are being instigated by the NGOs,” Awang Tengah said.

He also went on to add: “They claimed that they were not consulted on the settlement site, which is not true. We have engaged them, and had dialogues with them.

“We chose the site based on their requests and decisions. Which means that is their choice.”

Recognise native rights

Responding to the statement, Kallang said: “SAVE Rivers supports the rural communities currently blockading construction of Murum Dam since Sept 26, 2012.

“We call upon the state government to listen to the pleas of these communities.

“We note that it is unfortunate that the dialogue initiated by Belaga assemblyman, Liwan Lagang has not gone any further since his trip to Bintulu to meet with some of the community representatives,” he said.

Kallang reminded the state government of the provisions of the UN Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) which was signed by Malaysia that there should be ‘Free, Prior Informed Consent (FPIC)’ with the natives as in Article 10 which is relating to right to land and territory.

Article 19 relates to self-governance and the formulation of laws and policies affecting indigenous Peoples, while Article 28, (1) relates to right to land and to redress.

Article 29 (2) is on right to territory and security from hazardous materials and Article 32 (2) on right to land and resources; and other related articles of UNDRIP.

“We therefore urge the state government to recognize the indigenous peoples’ right to exercise their own decision-making processes, including the right to say NO and/or the right to set up their terms and conditions for partnerships in relation to how their land and territories are being used.

“Bona fide NGOs do not have any ulterior motives in supporting and making the people aware of their rights and to say otherwise is imprudent.

“In relation to the Murum blockade, we support the memorandum put forward by the affected communities, who want the promises initially made by the state government fulfilled.

“We note that the government so far has ignored their demands including a meeting with the Sarawak Planning Unit chaired by the Deputy State Secretary, Datu Ose Murang and with the participation of representatives from the Sarawak Energy Berhad,” he said.

Be truthful with Penans

Kallang further reminded the state government of its pledge that the resettlement of Murum dam would be ‘better than those in the past’ alluding to the Bakun controversy.

“We urge the government to immediately rectify all wrong-doings made against the communities of Murum.

“We also urge the government to be sincere in handling the grievances of the Penan community and engage them in a truthful manner.

“The real reason why there is a protest by the people is because their demand is not met.

“We the indigenous communities are becoming more aware that our rights are often not respected and our voice seldom heard by the authorities.

“Our collective voice is getting stronger each day, and we hope that the government would start listening to people it claims to represent, before more indigenous communities become displaced against their will, and end up poorer than before,” Kallang said.


  1. The Penans today are a lot more educated and no longer ignorant of their rights unlike 20 to 30 years ago. Overall, the education level and political awareness of the rural folks had improved tremendously. The highly arrogant, corrupted, abusive, repressive and oppressive UMNO controlled BN government knows very well that they can no longer fool the rakyats and that thier days are numbered which is why they are too afraid to call for poll this year and even next year.

    Comment by Mata Kuching — October 19, 2012 @ 5:02 PM | Reply

    • Treating school teachers and students from rural areas and even hawkers from the city to lunch or dinner at 5 stars hotels at the expense of tax paying voters will not buy them over to BN. Instead, the voters felt insulted that the BN government was trying to drown their grievances and daily problems with just one meal at hotel when election is near.

      Comment by Irene Kana — October 21, 2012 @ 9:43 AM | Reply

      • That ‘s right…Bribing the voters with just one meal every five years. BN ministers and the mayor of Kuching should know better that we not are fools and can be easily fooled and bought over by their cheap and fake VIP treatment once every five years..

        Comment by Richard Song — October 21, 2012 @ 9:54 AM | Reply

  2. “Sometimes, the people are being made use of by non-governmental organisations (NGOs), be it local or foreign. The Murum Dam was announced years ago and why no blockade then?
    “It is very clear that they are being instigated by the NGOs,” Awang Tengah said.

    This Awg Tanah guy got it wrong. Local Native NGOs are just giving support to their much oppressed Penans brothers. And what is wrong if other NGOs are willing to give their support? Thats what they are supposed to do,give support where it is needed, help those in need, educate and inform the ignorant and illiterate Penans of their rights. He claimed that they have engaged and consulted the Penans but were the Penans informed of their rights then? Why was the damned dam built in secrecy for years before the people of Sarawak knew about it if Awg Tanah had nothing to hide? Why are they so willing to give thousands of acres of land to a company for Oil Palm Plantation while denying the thousands of natives a few hundred acres of stoney and rocky piece land? Where do Awg Tanah think the votes that made him king are from if not from the IGNORANT “as he claimed” Natives?

    Comment by brian — October 19, 2012 @ 3:20 PM | Reply

    • Few year back…this Awang Tanah…donate Brush Cutters and Portable Rice Mills to people in Kuala Lawas and surrounding.

      Funny things is that this people are live in houses made over the water…in Bahasa Malaysia…KAMPUNG AIR… like what you see in Brunei….famous “Kampung Air”. Question is…. why gives away Brush cutter? They dont have grass to cut!

      Rice Mills???? These people…are fishingmen……they dont plant or cultivate rice, they fish in the sea or river!

      Why not give away to people in the highland? To the Lun Bawang……???

      My point here is….. this guy just want to enrich his friends…. to supply all these equipment. Same as giving away lands for oilpalm.

      Comment by Rod — October 21, 2012 @ 3:38 PM | Reply

      • Well, can’t blame him. As land crazy as he is, so he sees land wherever there stood a house! Probably thought blue sea to be green grass? Hahaha.. funny lah this Awg Tanah fla!

        Comment by brian — October 23, 2012 @ 9:40 AM | Reply




    Comment by Penan Tokong — October 19, 2012 @ 2:55 PM | Reply

    • Fight back with parang, spears and guns if need be to protect your land and stand up to your rights.

      Comment by Hassan Sui — October 21, 2012 @ 9:56 AM | Reply

      • Be great….tapi orang2 sekarang ni takut…penakut! Tak berani moak lawan pendatang……. tengok lah di ladang2 sawit dan camp kayu balak….semua pekerja Indon! Kenapa mereka boleh kerja tanpa permit…..

        Ini semua terjadi kerena orang2 tempatan yang biar kan ataupun membenarkan keadaan ini makin menjadi-jadi.

        Yang paling bagus ialah…… macam orang2 Dayak Indonesia halau puak Madura di Kalimantan….. orang2 Madura di pancung semua…tak kira tua muda!

        Comment by HH2H — October 21, 2012 @ 3:43 PM | Reply

  4. Ask him to go Murum lah….. ask him to pay the Penan what been promised and fullfill the “want” list then talk.

    Comment by Penan Tokong — October 19, 2012 @ 2:41 PM | Reply

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