The silence is deafening

From Malaysiakini HERE:

Minister for Women, Family and Community Development Shahrizat Abdul Jalil has been resisting mounting pressure to make public a controversial report on the alleged rape and sexual abuse of Penan girls in Sarawak.

Civil society groups have documented 15 reports of alleged rape or sexual abuse of young Penan girls in the Baram area by logging workers. Many of the survivors are minors.


The Bar Council, the Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO), Suaram, and other civil society groups called for Bukit Aman to send an investigative team to the Baram villages.

The groups said last year that a police report on the alleged rape of a 12-year-old Penan girl had been made as far back as 1994, yet no meaningful attempt at investigation had ever been carried out.


Shahrizat’s predecessor Ng Yen Yen responded by sending her ministry’s task force to Baram last October.

Ng had claimed the cabinet “was very supportive” of the task force.

“We are very focused on looking into the plight of Penan women and girls…we must ensure that Penan women are protected and not exploited,” Ng said.

The report was submitted to Shahrizat last November. However, nine months later, she has continued to refuse to release the report to the public.

“Interested parties can come to the ministry, and we can discuss the details of the report,” she said.

Shahrizat did not offer to transport Penan women from rural Baram to visit her ministry to discuss the report.

Incidentally, Sharizat also did not offer any reason as to her Ministry’s reluctance to make the findings public.

Honestly, I feeling like tearing my hair out. Why is Sharizat, the Ministry and the BN government keeping silent on an issue like this? What could the reason be?

“Interested parties can come to the ministry”? Wait a minute here, but shouldn’t the public in general be interested? It has to do with the violation of rights of our own people, it has to do with sexual abuse of minors, it has to do with the welfare and well-being of fellow humans. Are we, the general public, not interested parties?

Why all the red-tape? Why all the hush-hush?

“Interested parties can come to the ministry”? Bah! Is Sharizat imagining that only a handful of people would be interested? Is she thinking that the only people who actually care are from NGOs? Does she want to identify those NGOs?

“Interested parties” my foot!

What sort of information can be contained within that report that can only be disclosed to “interested parties”? Information regarding military intelligence? Information that, if leaked, will become national threat? Information deemed to be “official secrets”?

This is the Ministry for Women, Family and Community Development we’re talking about here. Sharizat and her Ministry should be protecting the women and children, and their rights that have been violated. But by keeping mum about the results of the investigation, who the hell is Sharizat trying to protect? It’s definitely not the victims, that’s for sure.


3 Comments on “The silence is deafening”

  1. Crankshaft says:

    Yes, I have observed this too. So much for speaking out.

    Thanks for your continued interest in the Penans. I always come to your blogs for updates on that – in fact, I consider you the authority on Penans! 😉

    Thanks for the vote of confidence, Crankie, but I’m hardly anywhere near the outer loop when it comes to information about this issue. But yes, my interest has hardly waned since. It’s actually sad that there’s hardly any media coverage or public stand (let’s not even say outcry) on this issue. People tend to forget. And people seem to care less when there’s no political mileage to be gained.

  2. Gadfly says:

    Silence is deadening. It intends to deaden the voice of the weak, the dispossessed.

    Penan girls or women are whole human beings not sub-human. The silence could suggest that the ministry has categorised them as something less human, less woman. Not all women are created equal. Some are more equal.

    The ‘other’ has often become the invisible.

  3. Antares says:

    Shahrizat Abdul Jalil oozes the same BN arrogance that makes decent folk shudder in utter disgust and wish we could fast-forward to the time when Umno/BN has been reduced to a puny opposition in parliament. Shameless! Lost her seat to newbie Nurul Izzah and STILL throwing her weight around in Najib’s Cabinet… I mean Skeleton Closet!

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