Thursday, October 9

Penan rape cases: Let the truth prevails

(Image credit: http://www.rainforestinfo.org.au/background/people.htm)

The instant formation of a task force by the Women, Family and CommunityDevelopment Ministry to look into the plight of the Penan school girls as a result of rapes and abuse allegedly perpetrated by timber workers is timely to search for truth. Timely, because State leaders in particular Abdul Taib Mahmud, George Chan and Alfred Jabu have not only accused newspapers of deliberately publishing false news, but have also accused them as saboteurs. “Saboteurs” is a very strong word indeed.

What if there are some truths to the reports that appeared in The Star on 6 October where full “details” of rape cases and abuse of Penan school girls by timber workers were exposed? If there are some truths, then the truths will have an embarrassing effect on our government leaders.

Now if the truths have been established by the task force, then the parents of the girls, through legal firms, should seek compensations from the timber companies as well as the State government.

Why are the State leaders particularly Abdul Taib Mahmud so angry with the newspapers when they highlighted first, the 10,000 Kedayan Muslims who were to be evicted from their century old settlement in order to give way for an oil palm plantation, and second, on the rape cases and abuse of Penan school girls by timber workers?

Let take the case of the Kedayan Muslims. It seems that the State government was embarrassed when the case was reported by the media, as if they were unable to protect the Kedayans who were their strong supporters. In order to cover up for its seemingly uncaring attitude, the State leaders and director of land and survey department issued a number of conflicting statements blaming the media for making false reports. But at certain part of the director’s statement admitted there were certain lots (about 3,000 hectares) alienated to an oil palm company.

The purported eviction of the Kedayans is the second case. Early last month, the government also denied being involved in the removal of 44 graves from a Muslim cemetery at Jalan Keretapi, Kuching. But the rumors circulated were that the authority was allegedly given to a company owned by a woman who is related to a leader of the government. Now the government has assured that the cemetery will not be removed. Compensations are being discussed for the damaged graves.

On the rape cases of the Penan girls, the government had to deny that there was no such a thing, as it did not want the story to be blown up because of international implications. First, they did not want the world to know that the Penans had been deprived of their livelihood when their “pemakai menua” territorial domains and their ancestral lands were seized for oil palm and acacia plantations as well as destroying their forests, the sources of their foods. If the Penans’ plight is to be highlighted, then the possibility of our tropical forest timber and palm oil exports may be banned by the European Union, USA and Japan.

Secondly, the government does not want the world to know that their efforts to rehabilitate the Penans through a Penan affairs committee set up in 1988 had not produced the desired results. In fact Penan leaders have been questioning the government as to what happened to millions of ringgit supposed to be set side to help them. Maybe the Penan leaders should give some details to ACA for them to investigate.

My next point is why our Dayak leaders and Dayak NGOs especially the Orang Ulu National Association have chosen to remain quiet when one of their kind was being bullied, abused and their women raped?

The lack of response from our Dayak YBs and Dayak NGOs gives the impression that they are afraid to be associated with the Penans for fear of being labeled as anti-government or anti-development. For decades, the Penans are famous fighting for their rights to livelihood and for setting up blockades against timber companies, who have encroached into their ancestral lands and forests. Many of them have been arrested and sent to jails.

But can we blame them for seeking help from outside the State, when the government, instead of helping to rehabilitate them, deprives them of their rights to live the way they want to live?

For full coverage of the report on Penan by The Star, go here.

5 comments:

Tbsbidayuh said...

dear jetty,

Taib, George and Jabu are always above all those issues. well, see if there is any result and they will get their face painted.

we lost timber concession report and hope that we will not loose this time.

YES MINISTER said...

The Three stooges are the greatest liars, the most corrupt leaders of their respective community. They are known all over the world, leaders who stiffle dissenting views from from their own community. Taib, Jabu and George Chan will leave a legacy of the most corrupted of all leaders Sarawak ever have.

Steve Oh said...

Your write-up on the rape of Penan girls will only help them receive justice. Why some people in power have reacted so negatively to your article is baffling unless they have something to hide.

But do not be cowed by hostile conduct that is unbecoming of elected representatives who should be upset at those who commit the crime not those who expose or draw our attention to them.

When I told my wife about the rapes her immediate words were, "Castrate them!" Extreme perhaps but accentuates the callousness of the crime.

Please keep us posted of developments and more importantly let your readers know what practical steps they can take to help.

I have only read two of your articles thus far and look forward to perusing more and from what I have read your blog is one of the better ones.

God bless you and keep speaking out for the weak.

Malaysia Digest said...

The allegation whether it happen or not, still need serious attention from the Dayaks chieftains. Apparently it is a no-issue to them.

Anonymous said...

loath them, too long in the service would make you lost your real vision; to serve people, not people serve you.