Hornbill Unleashed

August 20, 2013

‘Gov’t owes Penan rape survivors an explanation’

Filed under: Human rights,Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
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Tharshinaa Chandran

Two members of a national taskforce that had investigated complaints of sexual abuse by Penan women in Sarawak have welcomed a federal minister’s pledge to meet them to review the situation.

Representatives of the Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) and Women’s Centre for Change (WCC) suggested that this would return the focus to implementation of the recommendations of the taskforce.

WAO executive director Ivy Josiah(left) said she looks forward to meeting Women, Community and Family Development Minister Rohani Abdul Karim, who said late last month that she wants first-hand information on progress of implementation. (more…)

August 15, 2013

Women’s minister to ‘revisit’ inaction on Penan rape

Keruah Usit

Rohani Abdul Karim, the new minister for women, family and community development, has a greater and more urgent task than simply to “revisit” Penan communities in middle Baram “soon”.

She intends to study the outcome of recommendations of the ministry’s 2008 task force that had confirmed Penan girls had been sexually violated by loggers.

Rohani (left) appears clueless regarding the systemic failure to address the socio-economic plight of rural women from the Penan and other ethnic groups in Baram.

“During the revisit, we will be going through all the recommendations and see how many have been implemented. For those recommendations that have not been implemented, we will take it from there,” she promised the Borneo Post on July 30. (more…)

July 28, 2013

Rep’s remarks on Penan rapes elicit disbelief

Keruah Usit

The first-term Sarawak state assembly representative for Telang Usan in Baram, Dennis Ngau, has spread ripples of disbelief and laughter in the social media following his remarks on the rape of Penan women and schoolgirls.

Ngau made his remarks in response to a PKR accusation that Women, Family and Community Development Minister Rohani Abdul Karim, had misled a regional forum by making a verifiably incorrect claim. The minister had said that the recommendations of her ministry’s Task Force Report, on sexual violence by loggers in Baram, had already been carried out. (more…)

May 17, 2012

Tabloid’s Penan incest story “offensive and baseless”

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:01 AM
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Kelvin Egay

On Sunday May 13, the front page of the tabloid Metro Ahad read:‘Ibuku, isteriku, bapaku, suamiku’ (My mother, my wife, my father, my husband). On page 4, the report was titled ‘Abang kahwin adik sendiri’(Brother marries his own sister). This must have been the most offensive caption ever on Mother’s Day!

The Metro article was a pathetic effort at sensationalising a non-existent issue to humiliate the Penan.

The Metro reporter Hadzlan Hassan highlighted his ignorance of Penan‘adet’ or customs and the customs of Sarawak’s indigenous communities, by writing a story on purported incestuous marriages. (more…)

January 2, 2012

Shahrizat, Taib and Penan link

 Mariam Mokhtar

It all began with the despair of a few young girls who had been raped by workers in the timber industry of Sarawak’s interior. The girls were Penan. The loggers had the protection of one man, the chief minister of the state.

Nevertheless, one woman in West Malaysia had the power to intervene and bring justice to the raped women. She didn’t.

As minister in charge of the affairs of the women of Malaysia, she failed. Not because she could not have done something about it. Her ministry presented a report eight months after the rapes were highlighted, but that was the end of her involvement.

October 21, 2011

‘Why didn’t they operate if pregnancy was high risk?’

Joseph Tawie

The Sarawak Medical Department’s defence of its Miri Hospital raises more questions over treatment of Penan and rural folk.

The Sarawak Medical Department’s self-preserving response to the death of a Penan infant and the treatment meted out to the child’s mother Seri Yung at the Miri Hospital has irked opposition leader and the family’s lawyer, See Chee How.

“I am not impressed with his (medical director Dr Zulkifli Jantan) reply, as it appears that he is protecting his own staff.

“His reply to me and his statement to the press raises more questions than answers.

“He makes a lot of excuses, and I am not concerned with those excuses. I am more concerned with the way the Penan woman was treated. (more…)

Hospital ‘acted correctly’ in billing bereaved parents

Keruah Usit

Medical staff at Miri Hospital and Limbang in Sarawak provided “appropriate care and management” to the Penan couple whose child died a day after birth at the hospital in Miri, the Sarawak Health Department says.

Department director Dr Zulkifli Jantan also came out in defence of the behaviour of billing counter staff at Miri Hospital, following news reports yesterday about the impoverished young rural couple being forced to pay RM180 as their medical costs.

Seri Yung, 25, and Roy Dumai, 26, from Long Napir in Sarawak, had travelled four hours by ambulance from Limbang to Miri for the delivery of their second child, but the baby died of asphyxiation.

“We are of the same opinion as you, that it is tragic that a precious life was lost. However, our investigation shows that the staff in Hospital Miri and Limbang had provided appropriate care and management,” Zulkifli said. (more…)

September 30, 2011

Prioritise issue of Penan rape

Filed under: Human rights,Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 3:52 PM
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Joseph Tawie

The opposition will be ‘watching’ the progress of minister Fatimah Abdullah who helms the new Sarawak Women’s Ministry.

The opposition whilst welcoming the creation of a new state Women and Family Development Ministry wants the state government to prioritise the Penan issue.

Sarawak DAP has called on Women Minister Fatimah Abdullah to be serious with the issue of rape of Penan women allegedly by timber workers.

Pending assemblywoman Violet Yong said the opposition will be ‘watching’ Fatimah’s performance with ‘keen interest’. (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…)

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 22, 2010

Penan rapes: Complaint to UN rapporteur


By Susan Loone

A regional human rights organisation has expressed concern about the ‘significant delay’ in response by Malaysia to sexual violence against Penan women and girls by workers attached to a private logging company in Sarawak.

Pooja Patel, the Forum-Asia representative in Geneva, acknowledged that Malaysia had set up a national task force.

However, the NGO remains deeply concerned that “no concrete measures have been taken so far to act upon its findings and recommendations or bring perpetrators to justice”. (more…)

September 21, 2010

Penan power and a press conference that wasn’t

penan benalih baram blockade 270807 community 03By Sim Kwang Yang

Trouble was brewing in 1990 in the jungle of Sebatu near Long Ajeng, Ulu Baram in Sarawak. Penans from 15 villages had put up a long-standing blockade in their attempt to stop loggers from entering their area. A blockade is a simple collection of branches laid across the path of a jungle road to prevent timber trucks from entering.

Eventually, the state police decided to take action. They sent in 300 members of the much-feared Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) and tore down the blockade by force, while arresting the people on site. (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 15, 2010

Leaked Samling document acknowledges timber group’s role in sexual exploitation of Penan women

Logging giant is prohibiting all employees from entering Penan villages or providing transport to Penan without permission

An internal document from Sarawak’s logging giant, Samling Global (HKEX 3938), leaked to the Bruno Manser Fund, acknowledges for the first time that the timber group is concerned about the involvement of its staff in the alleged rape of native Penan girls and women in Sarawak, East Malaysia.

By Bruno Manser Fonds

On 9 July 2010, Chin That Thong, General Manager of Samling’s Forest Operations in Malaysia, sent a directive, entitled “Kes Rogol Wanita Penan” (Rape Case of Penan Women)”, to all Samling timber camp managers, drivers and employees in the Baram river region. The letter informs the logging group’s staff that they are “forbidden to visit any Penan villages or transport any Penan except with the permission of the Camp Managers concerned.” Chin threatens employees who are found to have disobeyed his orders with expulsion from their jobs without compensation. (more…)

August 31, 2010

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 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…)

July 28, 2010

S’wak govt always ready to discuss Penan issue: Dr Masing

By The star

The Sarawak state government is always ready to engage with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to discuss the Penan issue, Land Development Minister Datuk Seri Dr James Masing said.

He said the state government has been engaging with NGOs from all over the world, including the United Kingdom and the European Union, through discussions and site visits on how it handled the Penan people.

“We have nothing to hide and what we are doing now is for the good of the community,” he said on the sidelines of the Inaugural Oxford Global Islamic Branding and Marketing Forum here Tuesday. (more…)

No red carpet for Sarawak CM at Oxford

protest against taib mahmud in oxford university londonBy Mariam Mokhtar of Malaysiakini

For someone who is used to the red carpet treatment, Taib Mahmud’s ignominious entry into the Said Business School, University of Oxford, yesterday must have seemed repugnant.

For the man who has everything, Taib was denied the fanfare and was treated more like a common criminal. With protestors at the front entrance of the building and a police car and two policemen stationed nearby, Taib’s three-car convoy employed evasion tactics to smuggle him into the building.

The crowd then started to get noisy and waved their placards. Police reinforcements were called in and a few minutes later, more officers appeared. Altogether, nine men, one in plainclothes, manned the strategic entry points.

They were joined by three burly white-shirted men, who were part of the security detail of the Said Business School. (more…)

British MPs write to Taib on abuse of Penan

By MalNONEaysiakini

British members of parliament have written to Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud expressing their concern over the sexual abuse of Penan women and girls and the marginalisation of the Penan.

Speaking for the British parliament’s All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Tribal Peoples, its chairperson Martin Horwood (right) in a letter to coincide with Taib’svisit to the UK this week expressed the group’s concern for the new cases that have emerged of rape and sexual abuse of Penan women and girls.

Horwood also asked that Taib “take steps to ensure that Penan women and girls are protected from sexual violence and the perpetrator of such abuse brought to justice.”

Since 2008 when reports first emerged in the mainstream media of Penan women and girls being subjected to rape and abuse at the hands of logging workers, criticisms have been levelled at the Taib government for failing to acknowledge and investigate the crimes.


July 25, 2010

Penans bite the bitter pill


By Joseph Sipalan

Multi-million ringgit promises didn’t cut it for the Penans, for Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak failed to live up to the hype of his much-touted maiden prime ministerial visit to Ulu Baram yesterday.

It was reported that some 2,000 people from the Penan, Kayan, Saban and Kenyah tribes spent four hours at the event – some walking two days just to attend – after word spread about Najib’s pledge of more than RM100 million to complete various projects in the area.

Despite the supposed aim of the visit to help the premier see first-hand the problems faced by the Penans and other tribes living in the area, it ended up being more of a public relations exercise as community leaders did not even get the chance to come close to Najib, let alone have a meeting. (more…)

Pay for your own expenses to help the police to solve crimes

By Rosita Maja

YB Hajjah Zuraida  Kamaruddin, MP Ampang, Keadilan National Women’s Chief came from Selangor for the purposes of meeting up with the Sarawak Commissioner of Police pursuant to a letter from the Polis Diraja Malaysia dated 13.07.10 signed on behalf of  Police Commissioner  Sarawak  by Tuan Huzir Bin Mohamed (Ketua Jabatan Siasatan Jenayah or Criminal Investigation Department head).

The letter was addressed to a number of  NGOs from the Penan Support Group or PSG) requesting them to come and make reports to the police to help in the investigation of the rape incidents as contained in the NGO taskforce report ” A Wider Context of sexual exploitation of Penan Women and Girls in Middle and Ulu Baram, Sarawak”.

YB Zuraida came as the  President of  WIRDA  (Women’s Institute Research Development and Advancement) a women’s NGO, which comes under the PKR women’s wing. She attended also as the national PKR women’s chief to make the reports as requested by Sarawak police, hoping that the police can look into the allegations of rape of the Penan girls and women with urgency. (more…)

July 24, 2010

Demeaning remarks blight PM’s Baram visit

NONEFadillah Yusof, Youth wing head of Parti Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu (PBB), the dominant party in Sarawak’s ruling BN coalition, has ignited controversy with a public statement demeaning Penan girls and women.

Fadillah suggested in a Star report on July 18 that the Penan have different sexual mores from other people and insinuated that Penan girls begin sexual relations at the age of 14.

The remarks are likely to have caused embarrassment to premier Najib Abdul Razak, coming just days before his planned walkabout in upper Baram tomorrow.

The rape of indigenous Penan communities by loggers who appear to enjoy immunity from the law has drawn worldwide condemnation. (more…)

July 21, 2010

Penans not ‘NOBLE SAVAGES’ but our ‘FELLOW BEINGS’

By Sim Kwang Yang

The political, cultural, and journalistic climate in Malaysia has improved after all, and the long-suffering Penans have begun to attract national attention.

While I was the sole opposition MP in Sarawak, I began to take on the lonely cause of fighting for the indigenous people of my homeland. There was massive infringement then of their land rights, first from loggers, and then from the plantations.

No newspaper in Sarawak dared carry any of the news and press statements because of their fear of Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud. He was and still is the big patron behind the loggers, the plantation companies, and most other big businesses, including those that owned the newspapers.

The national press was also not in the least interested in this issue for reasons best known to themselves. Massive numbers of the native people in Sarawak suffered untold misery of dislocation and marginalisation in silence for decades. (more…)

July 18, 2010

Kudos to Sarawak Report

By Bunga Pakma

We Sarawakians, and all Malaysians, owe great gratitude towards the dedicated women and men of the site Sarawak Report. Sarawak Report made its first appearance on the net in January of this year, with a mere two posts. They were warming up. February’s six posts showed us that Sarawak Report was something new and exceptional. Then in June and this month they published four major articles founded on original research.  At last, through the efforts of these diligent journalists, Sarawakians and the world learned the extent and worth of Taib’s overseas property.

It is easy enough for a person like me to sit in front of a keyboard and compose “reflections”  on affairs. Every human being on earth has an opinion about something, most of us are eager enough to blab it to anyone we can grab, and thousands of bloggers in Malaysia alone produce every day a flood of pages.

Facts are what we think with, and facts are rare. As the philosopher Heraclitus said, “Those who seek gold dig much dirt and find little gold.” Without solid knowledge, words are just words. (more…)

July 17, 2010

Shahrizat reached out to Penans to personally look into their plights ?

Shahrizat Visited Tourist Center at Batu Bungan

Where is Batu Bungan ? (more…)

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. (more…)

July 16, 2010

Penan Support Group: Govt denials “appalling”

By Penan Support Group

THE Penan Support Group (PSG) is appalled that Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Heng Seai Kie has refuted the findings in the PSG’s mission report uncovering more cases of rape and sexual exploitation among the Penan. Heng cited minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil’s “fact-finding mission” on 13 July to the Baram region and the lack of police reports as proof.

We find this denial and misinformation problematic for several reasons. First, the minister’s visit was not a “fact-finding mission” to investigate the allegations of new rape cases, but to merely “have a feel of the place”, to quote a report in The Star.

Second, the minister did not meet any of the members from the Penan communities cited in the PSG report. She spent only one hour on her walkabout of Batu Bungan, an accessible village near the prime tourist spot of Mulu National Park. This is nowhere near any of the three remote villages the PSG mission members visited during their investigation. (more…)

Penan woman gives birth following alleged rape


A Penan woman from Long Item, Baram, Sarawak, given the pseudonym ‘Bibi’ by last September’s damning National Task Force Report by the Women’s Development Ministry, has given birth to another baby in February this year. The father was her alleged rapist, an Interhill logging camp worker known as ‘Johnny’ or Ah Hing.

Bibi had made a police report of rape in Bukit Aman in 2008, and had been given refuge by the Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO), a participant in the National Task Force. However, she later returned to Long Item to see her family, and fell back under Ah Hing’s control.

Ah Hing told the police and the Borneo Post, a local daily owned by a logging company, that he was Bibi’s husband and not her rapist. However, the Penan Support Group has documentary evidence that Ah Hing is registered with the government as the father of two sets of children born to two different mothers aside from Bibi: a Chinese woman and another Penan woman. (more…)

July 14, 2010

Endemic scourge

By Hilary Chiew

It is systematic and endemic! screamed a report on the plight of the Penans. The report was titled “A Wider Context of Sexual Exploitation of Penan Women and Girls in Middle and Ulu Baram, Sarawak, Malaysia”.

Indeed, from the testimonies gathered from the victims, family members and their fellow tribe members, it does seem that sexual violence against the Penans has taken on a life of its own and the “monster” has grown over the years.

This “monster” has firmly established itself in both federal and state governments, and enforcement authorities that continue to turn a deaf ear to the cry for help from those remote and isolated settlements.

The findings of the Penan Support Group, Forum Asia and Asian Indigenous Women’s Network (PSG et al) released last week, again showed the vulnerability and long suffering of the Penans’ fairer sex in the vast logging frontier of the Baram district in Sarawak. The district is as vast as the state of Perak. (more…)

July 9, 2010

Penan rape report: ‘NGOs have an open agenda’



The Penan Support Group (PSG) – a coalition of 36 NGOs – expects to come under fire from Sarawak officials for its exposé on loggers’ sexual attacks against Penan women and girls.

Its report, released in Parliament yesterday, was based on a fact-finding mission to Baram after the police reneged on a promise to investigate the sexual attacks, citing a lack of funds.

The PSG also highlighted the failure of authorities to respond to the shocking findings of a national ministerial task force.

In an interview, Sarawak land rights activist Muhin Urip answered the claim that the NGOs have a private motive for their revelations. (more…)

July 8, 2010

Helpless victims of merciless sex predators

By MalaysiaKini


July 6, 2010

The fact-finding report

The fact-finding report, 

A Wider Context of Sexual Exploitation of Penan Women and Girls in Middle and Ulu Baram, Sarawak, Malaysia,

Downloadable PDF reports :-   Click Here

June 24, 2010

Timber company official assaults Penans at blockade

By Patrick Lee @ FMT

A group of Penans were reportedly assaulted after they defied a police order to dismantle a blockade leading to a timber site at Long Sebayang in Sarawak’s Upper Limbang region.

According to the Swiss-based activist group Bruno Manser Fund (BMF), at about 8pm last Sunday, a manager of Lee Ling Timber threatened one of the Penans with a parang.

The manager known only as Ah New, also punched one of Penans in the face and threatened the natives that he would bring in ‘more gangsters to the blockade site’, said a source, according to BMF. (more…)

June 14, 2010

‘Money for everything else but the poor’

By Roselind Jarrow @  FMT

Sarawakian blogger has slammed the federal government’s plan to shift the Parliament house at the cost of RM800 million and its proposed purchase of 256 military tanks and three navy ships for RM10.2billion.

Blogger and activist John Brian Anthony has questioned the necessity for such extravagance in view of the rampant incidences of poverty in Sabah and Sarawak.

“Are these purchases and construction really necessary when incidences of poverty in Sarawak and Sabah are still very high? (more…)

May 28, 2010

Mahathir Mohamad’s mindset lives on

Bruno Manser 1999 penan sarawak

By Keruah Usit

A letter written by Dr Mahathir Mohamad in 1992, at the peak of his power as prime minister, reveals a disturbing mindset regarding the Penan people of Sarawak.

“If any Penan or policeman gets killed or injured in the course of restoring law and order in Sarawak, you will have to take the blame.

“It is you and your kind who instigated the Penans to take the law into their own hands and to use poison darts, bows, arrows and parangs (machetes) to fight against the government,” began his letter to Swiss human rights advocate Bruno Manser (top right). (more…)

May 3, 2010

Rosmah’s potential political mileage

By Sarawak

MALAYSIA’S middle income groups have easy access to alternative news media and can retrieve information about the country in order to obtain a balanced picture of the various political parties.

Not so, the rural voters in the villages, kampongs, estates, interior and with the next battleground in Sibu, the longhouses dotted along the Rejang and its tributaries.

Rural areas lack communication facilities, power supply and the infrastructure that most urban Malaysians take for granted. Some longhouses are only accessible after a few hours by boat along the river, or drive, inland. (more…)

April 13, 2010

Sarawak MP thinks Penan rape survivors’ suffering is a “perception”

By Rosita Maja

Is Hajah Nancy Shukri, MP for Batang Sadong, trying to water down the issue of the allegations of sexual abuse of Penan girls and women in Parliament?

Hajah Nancy Shukri claims to be the people’s representative or wakil rakyat for Sarawakians, and is Chairperson of the Women’s Parliamentary Caucus. Yet we have never seen or heard her speak for the plight of the Penan girls and women, and rural girls and women as a whole.

The worst disappointment is this extract from the Malaysian Hansard.

Extract from Parliament Hansard between YB Zuraida Kamaruddin (Member for Ampang) and YB Hjh Nancy Shukri (Member for Batang Sadong) dated March 24, 2010, page 63. (more…)

March 25, 2010

Malaysia’s invisible identity crisis

the antidote article sarawak natives life in interior sarawak  050509 01By Keruah Usit

One of Philip’s happiest days last year was when he finally received his identity card (IC). He had applied three times over the space of nine years, and had received a reply only to his last attempt. Altogether, he made six long, and expensive, trips from his remote home village to the nearest district office.

The Sarawak Gazette records that Philip’s Orang Ulu ancestors had settled in a valley in Sarawak for over a century. His parents showed me their marriage certificate provided by local village elders, dated before the formation of Malaysia. But they could not obtain a birth certificate when Philip was born.

Philip’s concern is not for himself, given that he is already 43, and a life-long farmer. He is not likely to follow the growing exodus of young people from his village seeking work in the towns, in factories in Johor or Kuala Lumpur, or on offshore oil rigs in Sarawak and further afield. (more…)

March 10, 2010

Rosmah: Will she? Won’t she?


By Mariam Mokhtar

THE Penan girls who were raped can be considered collateral damage for the Sarawak government and its state-sanctioned timber companies. The illegitimate children and the exploited Penan community are mere side-effects in the push for progress.

It is no longer about the Penan girls and the timber workers who raped them. Actually, it is about the rape of our system of administration of justice.

Recently, three Sarawak women activists handed a petition to the prime minister’s wife in an attempt to engage her support in bringing justice to the Penans.

This unprecedented action of approaching Rosmah Mansor during a state banquet will undoubtedly raise questions of breaches of security during these official functions. Might heads roll because of an unguarded moment by protection officers, when three ‘concerned individuals’ successfully presented a letter and a sheaf of documents to Rosmah? (more…)

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. (more…)

December 2, 2009

A Tale of Two Atrocities

Filed under: Penan,Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:01 AM
Tags: , , , , ,

By Pak Bui

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is a world away from Sarawak, from a geographical point of view. But the tale of crimes and atrocities committed in the DRC by a rebel army, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), rings bells among us here in Sarawak.

Some background information may be helpful. The DRC, formerly known as Zaire, is the third largest country in Africa, at the heart of the continent. The people of the Congo basin were enslaved in 1885 by King Leopold II of Belgium. The DRC was, in those days, a vast, private, royal rubber estate.

After independence in 1960, the people of the DRC have endured many further conflicts: civil wars, and wars involving neighbours Rwanda and Uganda.

The Rwandan war in 1994 saw the worst ethnic cleansing in the 20th century. Most of the massacres were inflicted by Hutus on Tutsis. After the Tutsis formed the government, many Hutu militias responsible for the genocide escaped to the DRC.


November 23, 2009

Letter from the Sarawak rainforest

By Sim Kwang Yang

THE disturbing news of the rape of Penan schoolgirls by loggers in Sarawak briefly caught national attention. But the flicker of conscience among Malaysians was soon doused by the deluge of reports of power struggles among the high-and-mighty in Malaysian politics.

It is hard to prolong our attention span on the Penans. They are so few in number: 12,000 in all. They mostly live in the remote, almost inaccessible, headwaters of the two greatest waterways in Sarawak, the Rajang and the Baram Rivers, far away from “civilisation”. There, they pursue their way of life: either settled, or so-called “primitive” nomadic.

They are of interest to few, such as the odd anthropologist from the West. Their lives and problems are incomprehensible to their fellow citizens living and working in the Klang Valley. Klang Valley would look, sound, and feel like a different galaxy to a first-time Penan visitor.

The letter (more…)

November 19, 2009

Justice delayed, is justice denied – Mariam Mokhtar

Published here with kind permission of the author. This article first appeared in The Malaysian Insider on 15.11.2009

NOV 15 – Some of you might be forgiven if you missed the few inches of column in a national paper that screamed out for attention, “Investigations into sexual abuse of the Penans reach dead end”.

And if you hadn’t, I bet most of you shrugged your shoulders, flicked to another page and thought, “Huh. We knew that. We’ve always known that and why wait one year to be told that? Why waste taxpayers’ money on this investigation?”

So, should we be bothered? Should we care? Should we even be moved?


November 13, 2009

Another BN clown joins the Jabu circus

By Zhang ML

Hassan SuiHasan Sui (photo right) was a member of the Task Force set up by the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development, which concluded categorically that the allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation of Penan women in Baram are true.

In fact, he was roped in by the state government to the Task Force as a representative of the Penan. As such he was supposed to represent the challenges and interests of his “own people”, the Penan, in the task force. He was meant to participate in the work of the Task Force, originally set up to investigate the allegations and to make recommendations for protection of the girls and women.

However his statements made in the Borneo Post on November 7 make for nauseating reading. It would appear he has tried to undermine the credibility and importance of the findings of the ministerial Task Force.

He said “recent allegations of sexual abuse of Penan women and girls in Baram were obvious examples of how outsiders had once again meddled in the affairs of the ethnic group”.


November 5, 2009

Police under fire for inertia over Penan rape

By Keruah Usit @ Malaysiakini

The national task force report on rape and sexual abuse of Penan girls in Baram was released on September 8. The report by the


Ministry for Women, Family and Community Development, was compiled by a high-level task force, comprising government officials, a police representative and women’s groups.

However, nearly two months later, no arrests have been made, despite continuing pressure from civil society and the international community. The police have said they have no leads and that the NGOs supporting the Penan have refused to co-operate with them.

According to the Borneo Post, a newspaper owned by a local logging company, Mohd Bakri Mohd Zinin, head of the national Criminal Investigation Department (CID), complained on October 22 that the police could not gather enough evidence.

November 2, 2009

“To me, all these reports are not true”

By Rosita Maja

Cheehow-Barubian-yb-zuraidah-penan-support-groupAccording to the Borneo Post on October 29, James Masing said Shahrizat Jalil, Minister for Women, Family, and Community Development, and the Police are duty bound to let the public know the truth about Penan rape by loggers, and the police should call Shahrizat for details.

What is the truth? Isn’t it the truth that the Sarawak Government is in denial ?

The release of  the Penan Taskforce report by the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development detailed the sexual abuse over many years.

The report confirmed the truth of the allegations of the rape of Penan girls and women which has taken place over 10 years ago, since the advances of logging activities in Baram area.


October 4, 2009

Heartbreaking account of hunting Penan girls for sex

By Rosita Maja


After endless calls from many quarters of civil society and the continuous international pressure, the Penan Taskforce report was finally released to the public three weeks ago.

However,  Abdul Jalil, Federal Minister of Women, Family and Community Development, failed to release the report in a responsible manner. She only released the report to PKR Women Chief Hajjah Zuraidah Kamaruddin, after a demonstration by PKR Wanita outside Sharizat’s office on September 8.

Penan Girls hunted for sex by the loggers

The full report makes for heartbreaking reading.


Murum Dam misery for displaced Penan

by anilnetto.com “with permission of author”

Dr. James Dawos

A few days ago, The Star reported that the relocation of seven Penan villages affected by the proposed RM3 billion Murum Dam in Belaga, Sarawak would be carried out according to the findings of a social and environmental impact assessment.

State environmental adviser  was reported as saying that the government had appointed consultants to conduct the study, expected to be completed by year-end, and would consider their report before coming up with a resettlement plan. The villages affected are Long Wat, Long Luar, Long Tangau, Long Menapa, Long Singu, Long Malim and Long Uba. Long Wat villagers face double jeopardy: they are to be “temporarily relocated” (to enable the construction of a cofferdam to divert the river) before later resettlement.


October 2, 2009

Police torment rape victim – but ignore rapists

By Pak Bui


Penan IR 01-10-2009-borneopost (3)The Sarawak Police have cemented their reputation of being humble servants for rich timber towkays, and their patrons in the State Cabinet.

The police provide, unquestioningly, the muscle needed to allow the tycoons and politicians to succeed in business. Sarawakians seeking security and justice for the weaker members of society need not apply for relief.

Sarawak Deputy Commissioner of Police Hamza Taib announced on September 30 that the police will question four people, who helped a Penan woman from Long Item, Baram, escape to safety in Kuala Lumpur last October.

The Penan woman was known by a pseudonym “Bibi” in the national task force report on rape, while her alleged rapist was called “Johnny” (known locally as Ah Heng, according to Penan villagers).

From his pronouncements, Hamza appeared adamant that the police report, made by “Bibi” in Long Lama on September 28, was genuine. At the Long Lama police station, the 22 year old woman claimed she had been “conned” by an unnamed Penan man, into going to Kuala Lumpur to make a report of rape against her so-called husband, “Johnny” or Ah Heng, a mechanic in an Interhill timber camp near Long Item.


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