The Penan Struggle Continues

PenanMalaysia's indigenous Penan peoples (search) are again resorting to logging road blockades to protect their native customary land rights and last remaining ancestral rainforest reserves. Logging workers of Malaysian Interhill logging have already dismantled a Penan logging road blockade near Ba Abang in the Middle Baram region of Sarawak on the Island of Borneo. Now the Police and Federal Reserve Unit are reportedly moving into the Baram region to break at the behest of Samling logging a long-standing second blockade erected by the Penan to protect the boundaries of their last remaining large rainforest expanse. The Malaysian government must be held accountable for the conduct of Malaysian logging companies (search) there and throughout the world. TAKE ACTION!

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5 Responses

  1. Dick Bala says:

    I work for a subsidiary of AIG in Sarawak, Malaysia. I am also a Committee member of the Sarawak Kelabit Society – President of the Miri Branch. I attended a meeting on Wednesday, July 19th in which the above subject was one of the meeting's agenda. A copy of your e-mail to our Prime Minister (e-mail dated 09-07-2006) was circulated. I was appalled by the hard-hitting tune and wordings of the letter.
    If you wish to know the truth, Sarawak Kelabit Society invites you to visit Sarawak and we go to the area you are talking about ( of course at the expense of NGOs who furnished you the infos). In the place you described in your e-mail are other ethnic groups, namely the Orang Ulu sub-groups. One of these group who are badly affected by the blockage manned by the Penans you mentioned are a Longhouse occupied by the Kelabits (Long Lellang). They are of the same ethnic the Association I am representing.
    Due to the blockage, these people cannot get their fuel for their household needs. For lighting of their generators, running their grass cutters and other machineries needing fuel. There is a primary school in that area. The majority of the students in that school are children of the Penans living along the road where they manned the blockage. They stay in the boarding house of the school. Without fuel reaching the school, their generators can't run and certain food sent by the food contractors cannot pass through the blockage.
    The issue here is there should be equal justice.If the plight of the nomadic Penans are highlighted world wide (from the cc of the e-mail) why are the Kelabit's sufferings not equally brought up or considered? The Kelabits in the area are suffering by the actions of the few Penans. They have not retaliated as they are mostly Evangelical Christians who do not believe in force but prayers. For non-Christains, they could have retaliated in two ways:-
    1. Stop the Penans students from attending the school in their area.
    2. Stop the Penans and the NGOs/Environmentalist from using the airfield which is in the area.
    They have never done so yet. I hope you and your friends visit the area and see for yourself first hand what is happening. Many of the infos dished out the the International Community are half truth or total gross misinformation.
    I stand for equal justice. I have contributed monetarily once to the fund we created to pay for the legal fees of a lawyer friend who represented some Penans who were caught erecting blockage. This time around, I see they are not the one “wronged”.
    Dick Bala

  2. Michael Patrikeev says:

    Loggers are always right. They bring “progress” in a form of jobs, access, electricity, etc. to remote communities. Quite often such communities are willing to support logging because of these temporary (or sometimes more permanent) benefits. But if one tries to point out environmental issues associated with logging, avert it from some areas or slow them down, then such person is immediately accused of hurting the locals, affecting jobs and such as if the loggers cared in the long term (“ecological terrorist” is a new fashionable term). Unfortunately as long as human activities are driven by greed (as they always were) nothing is gonna change.
    I think that previous respondent has missed the point. It is not only the Penan blockade that matter, but the forest for these people to live in, the same forests that support incredible biodiversity. It seems that the Malaysians have little appreciation of the fact that they are living in (and clearing out) one of the most important biological hotspots. I have not heard of any new forest protected areas designated in Borneo recently (although I an not that well informed perhaps).

  3. Roger Dorey says:

    I was a Royal Naval photographer working at Bario during the Indonesian 'war' during 1960s. I am passionate about saving the Borneo and all their forests, and against deforrestation programmes by the government. I am also a supporter of the Kelabit tribe.
    Roger Dorey

  4. Jay King says:

    as we all realize and konw, we live and an ever fast and developing world. as time goes by, the way we live changes. however, i do not see this in the penans as they spend most of their lives in the dense jungle without knowing “proper” civilization. the blockage of the road is one good example. did you know that the purpose of the road to be built is to bring development to the people of the areas as well as providing jobs for the locals there. i di agree with Mr. Dick that it does serve a purpose. rasionally thinking, why build a road wuthout a purpose? that is why the road is very much needed as means of transportation of goods, food supplies, fuel, books and the needs of school childrens. note that most of the school children in Long Lellang are penans. what? doesnt the penans want their children to excell in education? oh, i think that they are meant to stay in the jungle for the rest of their lives and for generations! its just that the penans doesnt understand the meaning of bringing development. by the way, the penans themselves wanted development for their kind however, they have blocke the best means of bringing development into their village and villages surrounding it. i have experienced it wherebey i realized that penans wouldnt need feul and food supplies to be sent to them. this is because they rely mostly on the kelabits to get obtain theese things. and from where does the kelabits get their feul from? it doesnt just fall from the sky. there was one meeting held together by village headmans and a timber company. when it comes to request for projects and supplies, the penans gave a long and endless lists. the building of roads is not a deforrstation programme buth whilst only a way of serving and helping those staying tin the forest areas. to build the road, the buiders dont need 30% of the forest but just a mere 0.5%. the Manser's legacy needed to be stopped.they dont know the importance of having a road.

  5. LUN TAUH says:

    Greetngs to all. i'm here to make things clear to those have the wrong thinking out there especially the activists and NGOs.
    for the start, you all dont know how the penans live. they are not like any other tribes in the world where roads bring good to the people. for your information, the penans are mostly uneducated people and they do not know the world outside their comfort zone.the blockage organized by this tribe has been give not only th ekelabit but other tribes as well a pain in the head. the government tried verious means of possible methods to educate this people about the modern world but it just gives the government a pain in the head.
    the road proposed is to bring in good life for the villages surrounding the areas. needs such as household needs, feuls, food is best transported to the villages through land which is why the roads is needed urgently. the kelabits in the area have resorted to firewood and live in darkness due to shortage of gas and feul supply for their kitchen and electricity generator. furthermore with the current situation which involves air freight, the airline company responsible for transporting passangers wouldnt want to carry drums of feul or cylinder gas in the aeroplane due for obvious safety regulations. the river in the surrounding areas is not a good option of transportation due to the fact that the geographical condition of area consists of mountanious and hills and it takes weeks to arrive.
    the penans have been selfish enough all this while without realizing that the land they are on is just a permanent land to them. the penans are nomadic tribes and tend to move on to another location when resources in the area are finished. the government have the right to build the road for its people because the land belongs to the government and not the penans.
    i dare to say the all of you activists and NGO's out there whod doesnt understand enough about the situation here, please do not say a word because you dont know how it is over here. if you dont believe me, ask your organizations to send you to come here and see for yourselves (on your own expenses). we had enough of headache and pleas dont give us more. this is our country and it is non of your business to interfere the government of this country. i have a suggestion: why don you bring all the penans back to your respected countries and see for yourself that these people will give you headaches.
    -LUN TAUH-

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