Penan dilemma: Are they going to investigate or not?Posted: October 11, 2008
A couple or so days ago, I posted here some excerpts of what is happening following the allegations of sexual abuse by some workers in the logging companies towards girls and women of the Penan settlement.
Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Alfred Jabu is quoted to have said that he has not heard of such allegations, and it would be a ‘waste of time’ to investigate.
The other Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan is said to have made a call for a full investigation to be carried out in view of these allegations, and get to the bottom of it.
Then, from Sarawak Headhunter, I found out that Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud (why is the CM without a title? Both his deputies are ‘Tan Sri’s. But I digress) is irate about the allegations of the goings on in Sarawak. Excerpt below:
Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud, usually cool in the face of criticism levelled at his government, has reacted badly to recent media reports about the eviction notice served to some 10,000 Kadayan-Malay villagers in Mekenu, near Miri, and the alleged rape of Penan girls by logging company workers in the remote Baram area.
At a Hari Raya function in Miri on Monday, he said the reports were nothing but “lies” and demanded that the newspapers corrected them. The irate chief minister also warned that appropriate action would be taken against those who failed to apologise for the “false” reports.
The Borneo Post, a leading local English Daily, quoted the chief minister as saying that he regarded the media reports as acts of sabotage against the state.
I’m assuming that since Taib called these allegations ‘nothing but lies’, he’s saying that there is no substance, and is of the same opinion as Jabu, which is that investigations will be ‘a waste of time’.
However, the StarOnline has this report:
Sarawak’s Social Development and Urbanisation Ministry is going to the ground to investigate claims that Penan women and girls have been sexually abused by timber workers.
Its minister Datuk William Mawan said his officers are getting in touch with schools in the Baram area to obtain information on the matter.
He said although his ministry is not in charge of Penan affairs, which falls under Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Alfred Jabu, it is looking at the matter from the viewpoint of women’s affairs.
So then there is this selang-seli thing going on where someone says ‘investigate’, then someone else says ‘it’s all lies’, then someone says again to ‘investigate’, and so on and so forth.
For me, the answer is quite simple. If there are allegations as serious as this, investigations have to be carried out. Jabu was quoted as saying that he has never heard of any such complaints whenever he went to their settlements. But it would be ignorant to simply dismiss such allegations simply because he has not heard of complaints. One must first understand what the Penan women know, or in this case, don’t know.
If they don’t know that sexual abuse and rape is a criminal offence, and if they don’t know that their rights are actually being violated, how would they know to make complaints, or lodge reports?
But with the ding-dong that is going on, it makes me wonder. Will this be another case that is kept on the shelves, or will they really get to the bottom of it?