KUCHING: Sarawak PKR women throw a scathing attack against the government and the Police for being inaction against the perpetrators of rapes on the Penan women and girls.
“The inaction of the Police, the state and federal governments has encouraged the prepreetractors who are mostly timber workers to commit more rapes,” said Voon Shiak Ni, national vice-president of PKR women wing.
She said: “Since the last report made three years ago in which 14 rape cases against the Penan girls were reported, seven more new cases have surfaced.
“The latest rape case was reported last Monday by a 20-year old Penan woman who alleged that an Indonesian man she knew had repeatedly raped her after coaxing her into following him to the city in the pretext of finding work,” she said.
The woman also told the Police that there had been similar rapes involving other Penan girls in her village, said Voon.
She said that several reports made by a number of taskforces of non-governmental organisations together with suggestions and recommendations had been submitted to the government, the Police, relevant government agencies, the ministry of women, family and community development and even to Rosmah Mansor, the wife of the prime minister.
“Up to now no one has been charged or investigated by the Police though the ministry taskforce report and the NGO task force report on the allegations of rape by timber loggers confirmed the incidents of rapes,” Voon said.
On remarks made by the newly elected state assemblyman for Telang Usan Dennis Ngau, Voon said that positive steps and actions expected to be taken to redress the issue were long overdue.
“Not only the opposition parties had called for investigations, but the civil society including women NGOs in Sarawak had made numerous statements calling for police investigations and government attention on the matter,” she said.
Following the report made last Monday, Ngau was reported to have admitted that there had been a surge in the number of foreigners in the interior because of the expansion of oil palm plantations and logging activities.
He said he would hold an urgent dialogue with the plantation and logging companies to the discuss the matter.
Ngau also announced that the Barisan Nasional is going to set up a taskforce again to look into the plight of the Penan women to show that the government is serious in fighting against rapes involving Penan women and girls.
Voon said: “Our question is - is there a necessity to set up another taskforce upon another taskforce when rapes are still continuing and ruining the lives of the Penan girls and women?
“Have the government intervened yet to see to the prevention of the crimes inflicted upon them?” she asked.
The government, she said, should have looked into suggestions and recommendations made by various taskforces when the issue of rapes surfaced three years ago.
Voon said that the Penan rape issue is not about prosecuting the culprits only, it is about making the right the system and structure in respect of transportation for the Penan children, looking into the logging activities, the impact of the influx of male workers, on the living conditions of the native community, their women and children.
“It also includes how to provide for the survivors of rapes and the children born out of the rapes,” she added.
“All the recommendations outlined to reduce the vulnerability of the Penan community and to improve on the living conditions are contained in the two taskforce reports.
“These reports have been delivered by us to Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, (Minister of Women, Family and community Development), Alfred Jabu, (Deputy Chief Minister), James Masing, (Land Development Minister), Rosmah Mansor, (wife of Prime Minister), Fatimah Abdullah, (minister in the chief minister department), women bureau and even to the education department.
“It is the inaction of the government that allows rapes to continue to plague the Penan community,” Voon said, calling on the government to act on the matter immediately.
“PKR women challenge Dennis Ngau to bring up the issue in the coming sitting of the state assembly,” she said.
Meanwhile, Nurhanim Mokshan, head of Sarawak PKR women wing criticized Fadillah Yusof, Parti Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu (PBB) youth chief for his failure to look into the plight of the Penan women and girls who complained of being raped again and again.
Fadillah was the one who promised to set up a taskforce to collate information about the alleged rapes of Penan women and girls in an effort to assist police to prosecute the culprits.
He had said that the PBB youth was informed by the police that action could not be taken after the issue because the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) who highlighted the issue did not want to share their information.
He also said that these NGOs claimed to have the details but they did not want to share their findings with the police, so it was difficult for the police to act.
In view of that, the PBB youth wing had decided to form a fact-finding taskforce.
“If we found out that there are evidences that such incidents did happen, I myself would lodge a Police report,” said Fadillah, who is also deputy minister of Science, Technology and Innovation.
Commenting on Fadillah’s remarks, Nurhanim asked: “Why are rapes continuing to happen again and again?
“What are the police doing about it?” she asked.
“I also want to know the progress report of Fadillah’s taskforce. We have not heard anything at all about his taskforce,” she said, asking Fadillah to walk the talk.
Expressing her regrets, she said that another rape case has been reported and she wanted to know what action is Fadillah’s taskforce is doing about it.
“We want Fadillah to answer it. He is the one who pledged to do it,” she said.
She said that PKR on its part had submitted memorandum to various authorities including Rosmah Mansor, wife of the prime minister.
"It is most regrettable that until today nothing has been done about the plight of the Penan women and girls. After all, the Penans are also Malaysian citizens and they too need police protection,” Nurhanim added.