Penan investigation report ‘not ready’Posted: August 23, 2009
Only that day, I wrote HERE about how the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development is refusing to disclose the results of the investigations held in relation to the allegations of rape of Penan women and children.
I saw no reason then, why details of the investigation could only be disclosed to ‘interested parties’, my argument being that the general public IS the interested party, and if it isn’t, it should.
Then yesterday, I came across THIS article from The Nut Graph:
Despite Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Jalil’s pledge, the Penan task force report is still not available, not even to “interested parties” visiting her ministry.Attempts by The Nut Graph yesterday — following the minister’s promise to make the report available to a limited audience of “interested parties” only — to access and examine the report at the Women’s Development Department (JPW) proved unsuccessful.
“It is not available now,” JPW director-general Datuk Dr Noorul Ainur Mohd Nur said when met at her office, even though it’s been nearly a year since reports surfaced that Penan women and girls were being sexually violated.
Still not available?
Excuse me for saying this, but exactly how long does it take to write up a report?
What I see here is blatant delay tactic.
In January 2009, one month after the report was supposed to be due, I sent an email to the Ministry, which can be read HERE. At that time, I acknowledged that it is to their credit that they did provide me with a reply. They said that they had yet to discuss this in Cabinet, and would only decide on further steps after presenting the report in Cabinet.
Come end of January 2009, and there were newspaper reports stating that investigations were still being carried out, despite the fact that the allegations were made eons ago. Read HERE.
In May 2009, it was found out that the Ministry had not, in the long period of 5 months, presented the investigation report to the Cabinet. Only after constant queries by ‘interested parties’ did Sharizat finally say that they would be presenting it to Cabinet come end of May. Read HERE.
In June 2009, after having presented the report in Cabinet, Sharizat constantly dodged questions by the media about what steps they would be taking next by saying, “We will look into it.” This response, I must emphasize, came almost half a year after the report was supposed to have been due. Read HERE.
Then of course, came the newspaper article in August 2009, only about a week or so ago, that said that the Ministry will not disclose the report to public, but that ‘interested parties can come to the ministry to discuss the details of the report.’ Read HERE.
A couple of days ago, Malaysiakini published an article saying that because of ‘lack of funds’, the police cannot afford to hold the joint police-NGO investigation that was supposed to have functioned as an investigative body on this issue. Some excerpts from the article HERE, highlights my own:
The police have reportedly told Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) members that it is unable to support a joint Police-NGO mission to investigate the allegations of rape of Penan schoolgirls by logging company workers in Baram because of a lack of money.
Sarawak Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Chief, ACP Huzir Mohamed said the State Contingent could only find and allocate RM100,000 for the investigation, which would cover only the expenses of the police personal.
The money would not be sufficient to cover the costs of Malay-Penan translators who would play an essential role in the investigations of the alleged rapes.
According to See, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Musa Hassan had asked the NGOs to co-operate with Bukit Aman and the Sarawak police in a joint investigation effort.
“The CID Chief Huzir told us that Bukit Aman examined the terms of reference of the investigation team and the proposed itinerary but has now decided that the Sarawak Contingent has to bear the costs of the investigation and obtain assistance from the Miri Resident (head of the local government in Miri Division),” See explained.
The proposed schedule and terms of references of the investigation had been communicated to Bukit Aman CID Director Mohd Bakri Mohd Zinin, during a meeting on January 20, according to NGO sources.
“We sent many emails to Bukit Aman following the IGP’s promise to set up the joint mission, and waited a month for each reply. But now, seven months later, Bukit Aman turns around and says it’s up to the Sarawak Contingent. And the Sarawak police say they will not support a joint Police-NGO team.
“Huzir even suggested that the NGO representatives need not go, but could simply provide the names of victims and witnesses and their locations to the police,” See frowned.
“Does it make sense that the Police can say they spent RM15 million on the Kuala Terengganu by-election yet they cannot support an investigation into sexual abuse of poor rural Penan schoolgirls?” he asked.
I don’t want to go into this ‘lack of funds’ issue.
But what I want to emphasize here is that an initial investigation was carried out last year. It was carried out, and the findings were handed to the Ministry. 8 months later, and still we have nothing.
What were the terms of reference for that initial investigation? We don’t even know that. We actually have no idea what they were investigating, we have no idea what they found out, and no idea what they recommended.
In this state of complete blindness, the Minister finds it apt to tell us that she’ll not be disclosing anything, and that interested parties can just look her up to talk about the ‘details of the report’.
And yet here we are again, with the Ministry telling these ‘interested parties’ that the report is not even ready!
How, beg tell, did the Ministry even manage to present the report in Cabinet, if the report isn’t even ready?!
If the Minister did present it in Cabinet, then why is it that the report is now deemed as ‘not ready’?!
Best case scenario that I can make out of this is that: (1) The investigation did happen, (2) The report did get written up and presented in Cabinet, (3) The report is currently being altered so that it can be ‘discussed’ with ‘interested parties’ without compromising.. (compromising what, I don’t even know.)
Worst case scenario: (1) The investigations didn’t even happen, (2) Since there’s no report, nothing actually got presented in Cabinet, (3) Now that there really are interested parties wanting to discuss the details of the report, the Ministry is at a loss of what to do.
Of course, I’m not saying that any of the above scenarios are true. I’m just saying, that’s what I can make out of it.
Either way, the Ministry is applying Delay Tactic 101.
This bears repetition: The Ministry is supposed to be protecting the rights of women and children. But that’s not what they’re doing. So who are they protecting?
And again I ask: What is to happen to the Penan community?