Penan dilemma: Are they going to investigate or not?

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?

11 Comments on “Penan dilemma: Are they going to investigate or not?”

  1. bangmalaysia says:

    Just to update (from The Star)

    A special task force set up by the police has been sent to Baram, Sarawak, to investigate the alleged rape and other abuses against Penan women and children by loggers.

    It is learnt that a four-man team under the supervision of Sarawak Commissioner of Police Deputy Commissioner Datuk Mohamad Salleh went to Baram on Friday to identify the area as well as the victims.

    An indigenous representative will be part of the task force set up to investigate claims that Penan women and girls have been allegedly sexually abused by loggers.

    Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Dr Ng Yen Yen said the task force would meet for the first time next Wednesday before heading to Sarawak.

    “We are very focused on looking into the plight of Penan women and girls. We will ensure that all accusations are thoroughly investigated.

    Note: I hope they will genuinely investigate without fear of favor. These investigations normally comes to nothing besides being bias or prejudiced with smacks of cover-ups.

  2. elvie ho says:

    I have heard from my sarawak friends that many of the timber company belongs to politican from the state gov.It could be only rumours? sarawakians out there,let us know!mitchelle,continue to highlight it until they start investigating.Thks for the artical.

  3. […] officials have responded to the cry by stating it would be a “waste of time” to investigate, and that the reports are nothing but […]

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  5. LightsInTheDistance says:

    Please continue to highlight this case in this blog, lest all of us suffer another bout of “memory loss”.

    Let’s see if they really take this case seriously. Why does the ‘little voice’ in me keeps saying otherwise?

  6. Crankshaft says:

    I think it’s now up to us to put pressure on them to investigate further and take action.

  7. Lang Rimba says:

    Those animals are making distruction to my native people, they are polluting our environment, stealing our natural resources. Investigation should be carried out to catch those animals. Rape is a serious crime, these animals must be punished.

  8. Ahmad Sahur says:

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  9. Abs says:

    I am Sarawakian and there are so many abuses of power by politicians in Sarawak. Timber concession has always been to benefit groups like, Shin Yang, Rimbunan Hijau etc, but what do they give back to Sarawakian. If one goes to the Ulu, a lot of trees have been felled indiscriminately, the indigenous Penans are discriminated of their livelihood from hunting and what have these concessionaires give back to the land? They talk about replanting, is there really? Does the CM go to these places and check? The only people who makes noises are ordinary citizens like us, environmentalists, but what more can we do when we are called liars? What else can we do when the majority of police officers get their extra income from businessmen, gangsters etc who protected big guns in the state?

  10. Patricia says:

    I have often wondered why Sabah and Sarawak stay in Malaysia. They are beautiful places, with so many resources. What is their gain by being a part of us? From my myopic point of view – it seems like the gain is all the peninsula’s. And they are treated like second-class citizens to boot.

    This thing with the Penans is just the tip of the iceberg, I think. There are so many things wrong over there!

    Pat, I think you’re right. And from some of the comments I’m getting here since I posted on the Penan issue (from Sarawakians no less), it seems that there little love for BN over in East Malaysia. For whatever reasons that BN keeps on getting the majority of votes from these states, it could be because of the illegal immigrant issue, or the lack of other valid choices.

    But whatever the case, I’m sure you and many others would agree, they are fellow Malaysians, and there is absolutely no reason why we should treat them like as if they are any different. For the same reasons that we are fighting for ourselves, we should not forget that they too are worth our fight together.

  11. elvieho says:

    East malaysia is about 11/2 times the size of west malaysia,rich in natural resources,I was working in sabah in 1980 as a showroom salesman and my pay is $600-starting pay,after 28 years i heard that there are still people earning less than that!There are no reasons
    for east malaysia to be poor…unless there is massive corruption and mismanagement.

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