When allegations of rape and sexual abuse of the Penan young women and school girls
came to light last September 2008, the Sarawak state government was dismissive with the news reports:
Penan girls claim abuse , Against their will , Violated by loggers , A neglected people
Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud said the reports were nothing but “lies” and demanded that the newspapers corrected them. “Check your information or you will be suspected by the decent people of Sarawak of trying to sabotage us when we have toiled to develop our state,” Taib said. Read here.
Deputy Chief Minister Alfred Jabu who is the chairman of the steering committee on Penan Affairs said that it would be a waste of time to investigate. He said: “I have not heard of such complaints from the Penan communal leaders in my many visits to Ulu Baram.” Read here.
Sarawak’s Rural Development Minister James Masing described the Penans as “good storytellers”. here.
Now that the Women and Family Affairs Ministry has released its National Task Force Report confirming the allegations of sexual abuse of Penan women and young girls, these state leaders have switched to the silent mode.
If this has happened in another country, the whole state leadership, the cabinet would have come out to apologize and offered their resignation.
But this is Sarawak. This is Malaysia!
Would Taib, Jabu, James Masing and their BN colleagues offer their apologies and resign?
Not a chance!
But we are putting what they have said on record. Let the people judge them at the next election!
On the other hand, a few HU readers have volunteered to translate the National Task Force report. We will be producing the English version of the Report (in parts) as their good works come in.
This is “Part 5: Summary” of the Report (at pages 99 to 101):-
PART 5: SUMMARY
5.1 Members of the National Task Force to investigate the allegations of sexual abuse of Penan Women in Sarawak unanimously summarize as follows:-
i. The Task Force confirmed that the allegations of sexual abuse of the Penan girls and women by outsiders who have dealings with the Penan community including workers of the logging companies and traders are certainly true.
ii. In most instances, the sexual abuse were occasioned out of the dependence of the victims on transportation provided by logging companies and the influx of outsiders coming to their villages to buy jungle produce.
iii. Sexual abuse is absolutely intolerable by the Penan community, but they are very vulnerable to the abuse due to the following reasons:
b. the remoteness of their place of dwelling;
c. their enormous dependency on the logging company logging is not limited to the transportation to obtain medical services and going to school but also their basic needs such as water, electricity generator and others;
d. lack of trust towards the relevant authorities;
e. the generally negative perception and prejudice towards the Penan community, that they are lazy, like to tell lies and are alcoholic, has made the Penan feeling that they are rejected by others and feeling inferior. This impedes their dealings with others.
iii. All the issues, i.e. sexual abuse, without identification documents, medical and healthcare problems and school drop-outs among the Penan community in the Baram district, Miri, Sarawak are actually closely related to the problem of lack of proper and holistic development. The lack of infrastructure such as roads in addition to the lack of public transportation have cause difficulties to the Penan community in their dealings with others including government agencies; and
iv To ensure a balanced development, the participation and involvement of the Penan community needs to be uplifted al all levels of decision making made which involves them.
Related reports in Star Online on 10-09-2009 Click Here
Related reports in Star Online on 11-09-2009 Click Here