Hornbill Unleashed

October 17, 2011


.Sarawak Report

The Penan are the iconic people of the Sarawak jungle.  Most communities had settled into villages and rural life of one form or another over the last hundred years, but the Penan steadfastly stuck to their nomadic ways.

With just a few possessions, easily carried on their backs, they have had nothing to lose but the jungle they live from.  Which is why they are the community that has fought hardest and longest to prevent its destruction by greedy and relentless logging.

However, we would be unwise to dismiss them as simple or backward people.  One should reserve that judgement for those narrow-minded, unimaginative IQs who can think only of the ringgit and jewels and houses they can buy from cutting it down. (more…)

October 8, 2011

Hurrah for multi-racial Sarawak

Sim Kwang Yang

NOWHERE in Malaysia can you find so many people of different ethnic origins living side by side in peace and mutual respect.

True enough, the various races are more segregated in the urban areas, but outside on the fringes of the urban communities, people of different ethnic origins tend to mix readily over the long period of living together.

Many years ago, I went to Long Bulan, a bustling Kenyah community who have lived there for generations.  I was surprised to find many Ibans living there, and marrying into the local Kenyah community and co-existing side by side in perfect mutual respect.  There, the Kenyah Chiefs told me, that the influx of timber workers from outside marrying into the local population had resulted in the Iban immigrants, integrating with the Kenyahs over a long period of time. (more…)

September 8, 2011

20,000 face ‘dam nation’ in Baram

Keruah Usit 

The beautiful Baram region in northeastern Sarawak is one of the poorest regions in the country.

Now, thanks to the Baram Dam, one of 12 gigantic hydro-electric dams spread across the state, 20,000 inhabitants face the prospect of being resettled, without participating in the decision that will change their life and that of their descendants.

The state and federal governments have approved these 12 dams, ostensibly to produce power to feed potential industries in the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy. The cost is estimated at RM36 billion but budget over-runs, such as those that have afflicted the recently commissioned Bakun dam, are a safe bet.

The government has announced that the dams will generate power 600 percent above the state’s current requirements. Critics argue these dams are merely an enormous money-spinning exercise – a dam scam – benefiting well-connected construction companies.  (more…)

August 14, 2011

Penans lodge report against Masing

Joseph Tawie

The state minister accuses them of stealing fresh fruit bunches from joint venture oil palm plantations.

Angry Penan landowners of Kampong Ogos in Niah here lodged a police report against state Land Development Minister James Masing who accused them of stealing fresh fruit bunches from joint venture oil palm plantations.

The report was lodged at the Batu Niah police station by Tua Kampong Ogos on behalf of 145 Penan families.

Landowners from the village were among those accused by Masing of stealing fresh fruits from the Suai plantation jointly owned by Land Custody and Development Authority (LCDA), the landowners and Sarawak Plantations Sdn Bhd. (more…)

June 25, 2011

Taib changes definition of ‘native’ after NCR defeat

Keruah Usit

Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud has responded to humiliating setbacks in Native Customary Rights (NCR) lawsuits by forcing through a motion in the state assembly to change the definition of ‘native’.

Yesterday, the first sitting of the state legislature passed the Land Custody and Development Authority (Amendment) Bill 2011, despite resistance from Pakatan Rakyat members, in order to lubricate joint-venture deals to take over NCR land.

According to the amended law, any party entering a joint-venture plantation deal with the state-owned LCDA will be designated a ‘native’. (more…)

June 17, 2011

Sarawak dumped semi-nomadic Penans

Ang Ngan Toh

The Sarawak government forced more than 1,000 semi-nomadic Penans out of their homes in the rainforest and dumped them in a vast oil palm plantation, a London-based non-governmental organisation, Survival International (SI), says.

The Penans refused to move, but later had no choice as they have to give way to work on the Murum dam project, SI director Stephen Corry said today.

The Murum dam, slated to come on stream next year, is the first in a series of 12 new hydroelectric dams that will flood the villages of the Penan and other indigenous communities. (more…)

May 27, 2011

Rape of Penan girls allowed to continue

Rosita Maja

The rape of the Penan girls and women in Baram continues because of the inaction of the federal and state governments and the police.

Hajjah Zuraida  Kamaruddin, Ampang MP and Keadilan National Women’s Chief came over to Sarawak last July to be interviewed by the police on the issue of the rape of Penan girls by loggers. She volunteered to give this statement so after she had received a letter from the Polis Diraja Malaysia dated July 13 last year, signed by Huzir Bin Mohamed (Ketua Jabatan Siasatan Jenayah or Criminal Investigation Department head) on behalf of the state Police Commissioner. (more…)

May 26, 2011

Tackling Rape Needs Concerted Action Now!

Ann Teo

Sarawak Women for Women Society (SWWS) is saddened but not surprised that more rapes on vulnerable Penan women have been reported

Since this hit the headlines back in 2008, SWWS has been conducting its Empowering Rural Girls (ERG) Project in Baram to raise awareness and to develop systems of help.

The recommendations from this project were submitted to the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development, the funder of the project. We also note that the Ministry has liaised with the State Government to form an inter-agency committee for Penan women’s development. (more…)

May 14, 2011

News Alert : 5 Bidayuh villagers from Tebedu arrested

HU Editor

( Photo Updated ) 12.45 pm :  The 5 Tebedu villager will be remanded for 4 days and are to produced to court on 18th may at 10am

11.59 am :  5 Bidayuh villagers from Tebedu arrested yesterday, now produced before Magidtrate at Kuching Central Police station for further remand.

The 5 villagers are Papai Ak Atin and Barak Ak Kolol from Kampung Temang Mura, Mani ak Marin and Karia Ak Daruh of Kampung Patah, and Peter Ak Laiong of Kampung Mawang. (more…)

May 1, 2011

Fight for Penan justice or keep mum

Jeswan Kaur 

In her 2008 police report, Bibi said Ah Hing raped her in 2005 after she rejected his demand that she become his “wife”. She refused after learning from villagers that Ah Hing already had two wives and two families.

Justice for the Penan women who have repeatedly cried rape appears to be elusive.

The recently concluded Sarawak state election has given seven women politicians a chance to become assemblypersons. An opportunity that brings with it the responsibility to do the “right thing”. (more…)

April 29, 2011

Elimination of NCR on land violates basic rights, court told

– Bernama

A group of natives want a directive issued by a minister to deny their customary rights on their land set aside.

The elimination of native customary rights (NCR) on land occupied by two groups of indigenous people in Sarawak amounted to a gross violation of their fundamental rights, the Federal Court here heard today.

Lawyer Sulaiman Abdullah, representing the native groups, argued that the directive issued by the Sarawak Resource Planning Minister to deny the customary rights of natives on their land ought to be set aside because it deprived the natives of their life, livelihood and way of life. (more…)

March 31, 2011

Sarawak’s damaged forests

Logging roads and damaged forest in Sarawak compared with the healthy forest of Brunei


Google Earth reveals stark contrast between Sarawak’s damaged forests and those in neighboring Borneo states

Logging roads and damaged forest in Sarawak compared with the healthy forest of Brunei. Photo courtesy of Google Earth.

Images from Google Earth show a sharp contract between forest cover in Sarawak, a state in Malaysian Borneo, and the neighboring countries of Brunei and Indonesia at a time when Sarawak’s Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud is claiming that 70 percent of Sarawak’s forest cover is intact.


March 19, 2011

The launch of Penan Vehicle in Kuching

HU Editor

Today, Pakatan Rakyat Governments of Selangor, represented by YAB Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Abdul Khalib bin Ibrahim, Dato’ Mentri Besar Selangor, and Selangor Executive Councillor Elizabeth Wong, Penang State Government representatives DAP Member of Parliament and Sarawak State Assemblyman Chong Chieng Jen, Member of Parliament and DAP National Publicity Chief Tony Pua, Member of Parliament and PKR National Vice Chairman Tian Chua, together with Sarawak PKR State chief and Penan Lawyer Mr. Baru Bian (Penan lawyer), Organising Committee Chairman, PKR Central Committee (MPP) Member and Penan Lawyer See Chee How, the Penan Support Group, community representatives and other party members celebrate the launching of the first ever Penan vehicle specifically for the benefit of deprived Penan school children. (more…)

March 17, 2011

Teachers demand cash from poor Penan students

Keruah Usit

Impoverished Penan villagers in middle and upper Baram have toldMalaysiakini that teachers in the secondary schools of Long Lama and Long San demand cash from students at the beginning of each school term.

The Penan parents say their children face threats that they would not be able to continue their studies if they do not pay.

Parents in several villages spoke of being made to contribute to a ‘Welfare Fund’, with no adequate receipts provided. (more…)

Native land rights: Mahathir’s views ‘simply wrong’

Syed Jaymal Zahiid 

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s latest blog posting on the Orang Asli has rattled several concerned groups.

Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s description of the status of Orang Asli in Peninsular Malaysia has come under heavy attack.

Deputy chairman of the Malaysian Bar’s Orang Asli committee Steven Thiru called Mahathir’s recent blog posting on natives, as “wreckless” and “insensitive”. (more…)

February 11, 2011

Tribal chief and savage nobles

Keruah Usit

An internationally renowned Penan leader, Along Sega, died a week ago, in his late 70s. His passing went unnoticed by our mainstream media – the newspapers carried little more than the usual advertisements for Chinese New Year sales.

Malaysiakini alone carried the obituary of one of the most revered and courageous Penan chiefs in the history of Sarawak.

Along was a pioneer in the peaceful resistance of the Penan against the intrusion of loggers into the Penan lands over the past three decades. (more…)

Penan win appeal in landmark NCR decision


Stephen Tiong, Malaysiakini

The Court of Appeal has ruled in favour of five Pen

ans in a landmark decision against a timber company, the Forestry Department and the Sarawak government, for encroachment into land to which Native Customary Rights (NCR) was exerted.

In a unanimous ruling on Monday, the three-member bench overturned the High Court’s dismissal of the Penans’ claim.

February 10, 2011

Penans win right to sue Sarawak govt, timber company

Debra Chong, Malaysian insider

A court nod allowing five Penans to sue the state government and a timber company for trespass has renewed the community’s fervour to fight for the protection of their native customary rights (NCR).

On Monday, the Court of Appeal in Kuching unanimously ruled there was no time limit for the Penans to sue the state government, the forestry department and a timber firm for encroachment. (more…)

February 9, 2011

Protecting rural Sarawakian schoolgirls from rape

Zhang ML

A women’s group based in Kuching, Sarawak Women for Women Society (SWWS), has called for a review of the system of funding for Penan students’ transportation, to “ensure consistent and effective distribution of these funds so that it meets the objective of providing safe transportation for all students and stops the dependency on logging vehicles”.

The group recently published and handed over a booklet entitled ‘Project Summary and Recommendations’ to the Sarawak Women’s Bureau. The booklet listed eight recommendations, one of which pertains to transportation. (more…)

February 4, 2011

Nomadic Penan leader Along Sega has passed away


It is with great sadness that we have to inform you that Along Sega, the iconic paramount leader of the last nomadic Penan group in the Upper Limbang region of Sarawak, Malaysia, has passed away yesterday, 2 February 2011, at 5 p.m. local time at Limbang hospital. Along was in his 70s and leaves behind his wife Yut and a number of children and grandchildren. While the exact cause of his death remains unknown, we have been informed that he had being suffering from strong pains in his legs during the last weeks.

February 1, 2011

Blatant liar and the crab culture

Carol Yong

It is alarming that the ‘Thief Minister’ of Sarawak, Taib Mahmud, as chief of a flock of ‘Apologists and Yes-Ministers’ doesn’t know real economics. According to a report in one Sarawak newspaper, Taib has argued that Greece, Ireland, Spain, Portugal and other developed countries “are in trouble due to lack of social discipline where a small group makes demands and carry out demonstrations against the wishes of the majority.” He thinks he’d made a clever statement about “their dire economic situation and subsidy-minded approach.” (more…)

January 29, 2011

Women’s Group Calls for Action


Sarawak Women for Women Society (SWWS) members met today with Puan Norjanah Hj Razali, the Director of the State’s Women Bureau, to present recommendations on how to address the risks of sexual abuse and exploitation of young girls and women in remote parts of the State.  These recommendations arose out of the Empowering Rural Girls Project which they conducted in the Baram region over the last 18 months, with the support of the Bureau. (more…)

January 12, 2011

Sharing power – the end of ‘fortress’ conservation?


January 10th, 2011

Sharing power – the end of ‘fortress’ conservation?
Will conservation organisations finally take practical action to implement agreed commitments that recognise the rights of indigenous peoples in protected areas? (more…)

January 6, 2011

Penan transport woes multiply

Keruah Usit

Penan villagers from upper and middle Baram are facing mounting obstacles in getting their children to school in the new year. Most schoolchildren and parents in Penan settlements have found it increasingly difficult to hitch rides on logging trucks, following the international outcry over the recent Women, Family and Community Development Ministry’s taskforce report on the rape and sexual abuse of girls by loggers. (more…)

November 14, 2010

Update : Lawas blockade

The arrests pictures expose police collusion with SS Gas Pipeline contractor

November 13, 2010 by democracy4now

The pictures from the arrests scene are finally in-which expose the collusion between the Lawas police and the SS Gas Pipeline contractor. Even done in the quiet away from the public and media view-technology is empowering the people to record such astrocious action of the police-who keep quiet when the land owners complained about the land encroachment for a long time, but spring into action after 1 week of the blockade! 4 persons were arrested on the 1st day-and they had all been, under public pressure, released by now. (more…)

October 29, 2010

Penan seek outside help

Feeling that their complaints and appeals against logging activities and deforestation have been falling on deaf ears, the Penan community is starting to look outside the country for aid.

A nomadic Penan travelled all the way from the Sarawak interior to Pulau Jerejak to highlight the community’s plight at the bi-annual Friends of the Earth International (FOEI) conference.

Sagong Nyipa, from Layun in Tutoh, shared his experiences (more…)

Govt ignores Penan’s choice of resettlement land

By Joseph Tawie

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 (more…)

October 28, 2010

Orang Asli seething at uncaring govt

By Patrick Lee

Sidelined and insulted by the government, the Orang Asli are fuming and want their rights back and “not your sympathy”. The Orang Asli Villages Network in Peninsular Malaysia (JKOASM) has vehemently opposed Budget 2011, calling it the beginning of the end to their traditional ways.

When unveiling the budget, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak announced that RM100 million would be allocated for various programmes, including resolving Orang Asli land rights and border settlement issues. (more…)

October 18, 2010

A short-lived joy in Baram, Sarawak

IOI Pelita PlantationBy Gan Pei Ling

IN March 2010, indigenous peoples from Long Teran Kanan, Baram in Sarawak were overjoyed when they won a 13-year legal battle against IOI Pelita Plantation. The Miri High Court recognised the Kayan and Kenyah communities’ native customary rights over the disputed land.

However, their joy was short-lived. IOI Pelita Plantation filed an appeal against the High Court ruling in April 2010. A date has yet to be fixed.

The Nut Graph visited the village in August 2010 and found that despite the ongoing legal battle, the oil palm corporation continues to encroach upon the villagers’ native customary land, threatening their livelihoods as well as their last clean water source. (more…)

October 14, 2010

They’re friends of the Penan

By Sim Kwang Yang

The following is an account written by one of many volunteers working to improve the lot of the Penans. The writer works on his initiative to alleviate the suffering of the Penans in helping to meet their needs for medical care and education.

This week, my column by a guest from this group who consider themselves friends of the Penans.

An early start (more…)

October 12, 2010

Sarawak govt rapped for failure in Rajang mess

By Chris Reubens

The state government was taken to task by Sarawak PKR for failing to prevent the “ecological disaster” that saw the Rajang River being clogged by timber mass and debris since last Friday.

PKR state information chief See Chee How, at a press conference here Tuesday, said this shows the poor governance and incompetence among the present state administrators.

“They have failed to contain the problem of the massive timber mass and debris that clogged the Rajang River,” said See who also warned that Sarawakians will suffer greater losses in terms of socio-economic costs and ecological damage.

October 6, 2010

The jungle is a dangerous place

By Sim Kwang YangNONE

For all middle-class urban citizens, the jungle must seem like a primitive, wild place. We urbanites can only be comfortable when we are surrounded by what we consider to be the advanced products of industrial civilization. Plunged into the middle of the jungle, we would probably not survive on our own for more than a few days.

But the Penan are perfectly comfortable in this jungle environment. They are familiar with the forest, and know it like their back of their hand. Like all jungle dwellers, the Penans are totally immersed in the land where they live. They depend on this environment for their survival.

October 2, 2010

Foundation charts path to help Penans before Sarawak Poll, Why?

By Malaysian Miror

Yayasan Sejahtera, a foundation which seeks to alleviate hardcore poverty in the country, is to implement a plan to uplift the life of the Penan people in Sarawak.

Its chairman,  Shahrir Abdul Samad, said the plan, which would focus on the Lusong Laku and Pulau Beruit areas, would be launched on Wednesday by Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud.

The comprehensive community development plan would encompass support for sustainable livelihood, basic food needs, building and rehabilitating of homes and, at the same time, provide basic community services, he said in a statement. (more…)

September 16, 2010

Samling denies allegations over ‘Penan rape’ circular

NONEBy Hazlan Zakaria

Logging company Samling Global has denied claims by indigenous rights NGO, Bruno Manser Funds (BMF), that a circular it sent out to timber workers in the Baram region last July, was admission of its staff involvement in the alleged sexual abuse of Penan women.

“BMF’s allegations are baseless,” said the firm in a statement emailed to Malaysiakini by its corporate communications representative.

Admitting that it did indeed send out such a circular, Samling, however, said that it was standard practice and is issued regularly as a reminder to its employees that the company does not tolerate any criminal act or inappropriate behavior from them. (more…)

September 13, 2010

Dayaks do not trust BN over NCR Land

In the coming state election, issues regarding native customary rights land are certain to be exploited by both the Opposition and Barisan Nasional parties.

Already the government has taken the initial step in order to gain advantage of the situation when Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak announced an allocation of RM20 million to carry out as a “first step” to do perimeter survey of some 1.5 million hectares of NCR land in the state. Starting from the end of the year, it is an obvious part of the government’s strategy in order to minimize its exploitation by the Opposition.

The Opposition Pakatan Rakyat is aware of the government’s strategy in trying to win back the hearts and minds of the people especially the natives who own the NCR land. But the natives are no longer fool as the problems have been there for about three decades. Nor do they believe what the BN leaders have promised them any more. (more…)

September 7, 2010

One Year After: Penan Communities Re-Blockaded to Protest over Government’s Broken Promises

By Panai Ayat – BMF

On September 2, 2010, around 150 Penan villagers from Long Nen in Sungai Layun,Long Belok and Long Sayan in Sungai Apoh, Tutoh, Long Bangan in Sungai Terawen,Tutoh and Ba’ Marong in ulu Sungai Si’ang, Tutoh gathered to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the simultaneous blockades held by the same communities in the area between August and September last year.

The gathering in fact was held not only to commemorate the anniversary of the protests but also to honour the three-decade struggles of the Penan communities in Sarawak against the continued violations of their Native Customary Rights (NCR). It was held as a reminder to our people to appreciate their rights, livelihoods, traditions and culture that are closely tied to the forests, which have now been largely destroyed by logging companies. (more…)

September 2, 2010

Winning Dayak hearts and minds – by blackmail?

bn supreme council mt meeting sapp sabah issue 190608 taib mahmudBy Keruah Usit

The political-timber industrial complex in Sarawak has resorted to the unusual tactic of blackmail to win the hearts and minds of the natives in the run-up to the forthcoming state elections.

State Minister for Infrastructure Development and Communications Michael Manyin raised eyebrows on Aug 30 with a public warning to fellow Bidayuh to vote for the Barisan Nasional (BN) – or else, according to a report in the local daily Borneo Post, headlined Bidayuhs have much to lose if they don’t vote BN.


September 1, 2010

A flower for the Penan

By Sim Kwang Yang

This is a record of my struggle for and with the Penan people, specifically with a group of 15 villages, now still living in the remote jungles of the Baram region in northern Sarawak. The year was 1993.

The protest movement that we started has since grown in strength, and thanks to the reach of the Internet, the cry of pain from the far flung, God-forsaken forest can now be heard everywhere. Though I have given up active politics due to ill health, many new Green warriors have joined the fray and kept the issue alive.

It is not easy to keep the Penan issue alive. The Penans live in remote forests, and we have to cover great distances to overcome the physical and cultural barriers to connect the Penans with the rest of the world. (more…)

August 31, 2010

‘1Dayak’ – defending the land?

By Apang and John Riwang

We wish to make another important point: when any group of people decides to build a united front, it can only mean a “united front against whom/what?” In this case, who or what does ‘1Dayak’ represent, and against whom/what? We believe by identifying this, it could illuminate the crux of such a formation. As reported in the same article in The Borneo Post as pointed out yesterday, such a principle did not seem to exist.

Interestingly, the issue of land was mentioned and somehow, it was implied that this could be an issue that 1Dayak should take on. But it stopped short of saying “against whom/what?” should we take on this land issue? Jeffrey Kitingan told The Borneo Post that “There should be a body to centralize our issues especially when it comes to land.” (more…)

Samling threatens Penan with retaliations over rape allegations

30 August 2010
Logging giant threatens to suspend all transport services for locals unless Penan retract sexual abuse allegations

LONG AJENG,Malaysian logging giant Samling has threatened the indigenous Penan communities of Sarawak’s Upper Baram region with the suspension of all transport services provided for locals unless they retract sexual abuse and rape allegations against the timber companies active in the region.

The new dispute between Samling and the Penan arose after the release of a report by an international fact-finding mission in July 2010. The report had uncovered seven new cases of sexual exploitation of Penan girls and women in the Upper Baram region by timber workers and had asked the Malaysian government to address the grievances of the Penan communities. (more…)

August 30, 2010

‘1Dayak’ – Politics of the elite

By Apang and John Riwang

We write this as a challenge to the Dayak elites. This is our way of separating the elites from the masses. In doing so, we want to unmask the elites and highlight the dangers of falling for a political ideology that is still fundamentally elitist. This must not be confused with the elites’ attempts to unite the masses under their umbrella.

We are challenging their constructed notion that Dayakism or Dayak ethnicity is the only way for the masses to unite against oppression – i.e. the Barisan Nasional (BN). In this sense, we and the Dayak elites do not differ – our intent is to liberate the oppressed masses. We differ in our approach, and beyond this difference is the danger we identify in what the Dayak elites are trying to re-create. (more…)

August 28, 2010

New blockades in Sarawak against pipeline threat

By Joseph Sipalan

Indigenous tribes are putting up more blockades in Sarawak’s northern region, but this time it is to stop a new threat to their precarious existence.

While the Penans and other tribes continue their fight against oil palm plantations and timber giants, they face another hostile front in the form of the 500km-long Sarawak-Sabah Gas Pipeline (SSGP) linking an upcoming oil and gas terminal in neighbouring Kimanis, Sabah to the liquefied natural gas (LNG) complex in Bintulu.

Indigenous Network of Malaysia (JOAS) president Adrian Lasimbang said numerous blockades have been set up by locals along the pipeline route, including in Lawas and Long Nyakit in Baram.

The local media also carried reports earlier this month on several blockades, including one in Ba Kelalan which held up construction work. (more…)

August 20, 2010

Ibans from Rumah Ranggong start trial at Kuching High Court


A press release by BRIMAS, the Borneo Resources Institute in Miri (Sarawak), on a legal conflict  between naive Iban communities and BLD Resources Sdn Bhd., a subsidiary of Kuala Lumpur stock exchange-listed BLD plantations (www.bld.com.my), over new oil palm plantations on native lands in Sarawak. For enquiries, please contact BRIMAS executive direcor Marc Bujang under +60 19 884 36 31 or under markbujang@gmail.com.


20 August 2010

KUCHING – The much anticipated trial of the residents of Rumah Ranggong longhouse against BLD Resources Sdn. Bhd., the Sarawak Land and Survey Department and the Sarawak Government got off to a lively start yesterday morning at the Kuching High Court, with the representatives of the longhouse holding a peaceful demonstration in front of the court complex.

Around 80 representatives of the longhouse came in two buses at 9am and congregated in front of the court complex and held a short demonstration before proceeding into the court house where the trial started at 10am.

Three witnesses from three neighbouring longhouses were called to testify and acknowledge the existence of the native customary rights claims of the residents of Rumah Ranggong and their communal boundary between them. (more…)

August 19, 2010

Two donations – a tale of disparities

By Mariam Mokhtar

Over a week ago, 500 Penans lost everything when fire swept through two longhouses. Personal documents like birth certificates and MyKads which were recently issued, could not be salvaged.

Both longhouses were located in the deep interior of Kapit Division: Long Kajang was in a logging concession zone, near the Sarawak- Kalimantan border, half a day’s drive along timber tracks from Bintulu. Long Luar, close to the Murum Dam site, housed 300 Penan.

In a gesture of kindness, the two timber giants operating in the area donated a princely sum of RM900 in total. This was equivalent to RM1.80 per Penan.

These companies which stripped the jungles bare of trees did not see fit to provide the Penan with timber to rebuild their homes, or offer other essential assistance. (more…)

August 18, 2010

Bakun dam ready, but pledges to natives unfulfilled

NONEBy Aidila Razak

The construction of the Bakun Hydroelectric Dam may soon be over, with impoundment said to take place soon.

But the woes of the indigenous community forced to leave their ancestral home to make way for the multi-billion ringgit dam more than a decade ago have yet to be resolved.

Instead of the ‘development’ promised in 1998, said Kenyah lawyer Abun Sui Anyit, the 10,000-odd people have only experienced “reverse development” with living conditions continuing to slide.

“Nothing much has changed. When we lived in our original longhouses we had access to clinics and schools too. The difference is now we have gone ‘negative’ with so many bills to pay,” he said. (more…)

August 17, 2010

Taib Mahmud stuck in a time-warp

taib mahmud and sarawak timber kickbacks 2By Keruah Usit

Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud has courted further controversy by releasing an edited transcript of an interview he gave to an Oxford radio station during a recent marketing trip sponsored by his family.

In the interview, he rejected criticism leveled against his state government by NGOs on the ‘Penan issue’.

According to Bernama, Taib spoke with “regret” of the attention given by “unfriendly” NGOs, particularly foreign ones, to the plight of the Penan. He avoided any direct reference to the sexual abuse of Penan girls by loggers, as documented by a federal government ministerial task force.

August 15, 2010

Malaysians are still seaching for Hope

Penan talk 20100814 01有鉴于国阵在308政治大海啸凭着东马的54个国会议席保住政权,其中砂拉越占了30席,本南支援小组(Penan Support Group)成员兼人权律师施志豪(下图右二)认为,改国运必须先从砂拉越开始。




他表示,若领袖们只是在当地稍为停留过境,很难想象那里的情形有多糟。 (more…)

August 11, 2010

Winds of political change blow through Sarawak


An opposition party poster hanging in a Penan tribal chieftain’s wooden longhouse deep in Malaysia’s rainforests signals winds of political change blowing across Borneo island.

The Penan are among the most disadvantaged of Malaysia’s indigenous people, and have for decades fought a one-sided war against the powerful logging and plantation firms that are obliterating their ancestral land.

But a political transformation in Malaysia, which threatens to unseat the coalition that has ruled for half a century, has put the Borneo island states of Sabah and Sarawak in a powerful position.

And the poster in the Penan longhouse, promoting the leaders of the Democratic Action Party — one of a trio that make up the opposition alliance — is the sort of thing that has the government worried. (more…)

August 10, 2010

Taib expresses regret over NGOs’ unfriendly views


Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud has expressed regret over the issue of the Penans being hurled at the state all the time by “unfriendly” non-governmental organisations (NGOs), particularly foreign NGOs, which he said held the wrong view that they should be left to roam the jungles like the orang utans.

However, he said, if the government left the Penans to roam like animals in the forests, then the state would be accused by human rights groups of not doing its duty to help them develop.

“To date, some 500 of the Penans are still wandering as nomads in the forests,” he said during a recent interview with a British television station at Oxford, near London. (more…)

August 3, 2010

Penan rapes demand a prompt national response


By Salbiah Ahmad

It was hard not to miss the consistent media reports since the end of 2009 to date on the sexual abuse of Penan women and girls. What was more distressing was the government inertia in responding promptly to the reported abuses, despite a government task force supporting the allegations of rape and sexual abuse.

It is unclear if the report is an official secret as that report is still not on any government website. These are the hiccups associated with the BN government’s fear of dissemination of information that has the public giving the thumbs-up to Selangor’s FOI enactment.

The delay in releasing the task force report is disquieting. The reason for the delay could be that Malaysia’s UPR (universal periodic review) was due in February 2009 before the Human Rights Council (HRC). Malaysia’s country report did mention the task force to “investigate the report of alleged sexual harassment and abuse of Penan women in Sarawak by logging company workers”.  (more…)

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