According to The Borneo Post story today (19 June), primary school students from four longhouses in Sungai Pak about a 45 minute drive from Sibu go to school before dawn, walking through narrow jungle paths to reach their school before day break.
Accompanied by their elders, mostly their parents and grandparents, and armed with torch lights, they climb rugged terrains in their thick undergrowth and walk on poles across streams to reach SK Nanga Pak.
Each day the children wake up at 4.00 am to prepare themselves, and in half an hour they are off on the rugged paths with school bags on their backs, even in heavy downpour.
Dudong assemblyman Yap Hoi Liang, who has been visiting them for three years, has been making appeals in newspapers on their behalf.
Now that he has been elected their representative, he told the Sunday Post that he would be marching into the state assembly with their pleas.
He said he wanted the plight of these children heard, and he wanted immediate action taken to improve the infrastructure for the longhouse folk.
These children, who number more than 20, are from four longhouses built closely together in Sungai Pak – Rumah Shandom Ajang, Rumah Janang, Rumah Sebastian Igom and Rumah Iweng.
A primary three boy, who only identified himself as Austin from Rumah Shandom Ajang, said his grandfather walked him to school but after school the children would gather themselves and walk back by themselves.
“I am used to it already,” he said but added that it was troublesome when it rained.
“We have to walk through mud when it is wet, and worse the path at the foot of the hills is always flooded, and we have to wade through the water, even at 4.30 am.
It is cold,” he said.
Austin said that they also encountered wild animals such as snakes and wild boars
Parents of these children are grateful that the school allows their children to stay in the teachers’ quarters when floods pose danger to the children.
Yap said that there used to be a gravel road through the jungle to the school, but it was never maintained.
“It became a jungle path again. I am disappointed with the neglect of these people,” he said, pointing out that these people had also lacked ‘water and electricity supplies’.
“They drink from the murky water in the drains beside the road,” the DAP elected representative said.
Questions need answers
(1) What happens to the slogan ‘1Malaysia People first Performance now’ as espoused by the Prime Minister?
(2) What has the BN elected representative been doing all this while?
(3) What are the authorities doing about it?
(4) What are our Dayak leaders doing about it?
(5) Don’t you think that it is a good idea that we elected Opposition members to highlight our problems when BN leaders are trying to sweep such problems under the carpet?
This sad story to me is a tip of the iceberg, and there are many more such stories that need to be exposed for the betterment of our rural community.