Thursday, September 16, 2010


By Devil’s Advocate

If truly we want to winch the Penans out of their true sense of backwardness and ignorance, hear me now. To map the Penan’s salvation and sustainable future we need more people in the quality of Raymond Abin and fewer people in the quality of Alfred Jabu. Now the fate of Sarawak Penans falls at the mercy of the latter quality, the job is made harder but we shall persevere.

Jabu the Penan Chairman
Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Alfred Jabu anak Numpang is Deputy Chief Minister of Sarawak. He is also Chairman of Penan Steering Committee in Sarawak. Behold! Jabu anak Numpang is not a Penan, he is Iban – the fearless tribe in Dayak society. Neither is I a Penan; I am devil and that says everything about my kind.

His function as Deputy Chief Minister of Sarawak is spared, my outrage is aimed at Jabu in his capacity as Chairman of Penan Steering Committee. I don’t know what is ‘Steering Committee’ but I know ‘Chairman’ and I certainly know ‘Penan’. If Jabu thinks he is the Chairman of Penan, I think I am the Penan.

I am sad. I am angry. I am sick of this man’s antic.

Alfred Jabu anak Numpang, you come here!

Sit down.

Now you listen to me.

Do you know what you’re doing? As Chairman of Penan, do you have a clue what you are doing? As a Penan, I am telling you plenty of things you do for the Penans are worldly wise but your Penan sentiment is misplaced. If you’re Chairman of Penan then start feeling like Penan. You brought luxury to the Penans but what good is that bridal gown if the bride is pregnant?

Yeng ka’au medei, akau manou bareng jian ita’u.
(In English: Fret not I’m doing you a favour here)

If you cannot make out that Penan words I just uttered, Alfred Jabu anak Numpang, what Penan are you?

You know what the people in Malaya are saying about you this very moment? They said Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Alfred Jabu anak Numpang – so long the name so short the temper –, the Chairman of Penan Sarawak, cannot even save his own people. If the Chairman of Penan himself could not be bothered to protect the Penan girls from their rapists, said they, why bother sticking their neck out for people who wished not their protection. Yes, Chairman Jabu, they’re talking about you. Yes, Chairman Jabu, they’ve got a point there. No, Chairman Jabu, I cannot save your face there.

They said one million Dayaks in Sarawak commanded by Chairman Jabu cannot be marshalled to shield a small tribe Penan from further harassment while the Indians in Malaya can rally in full force behind a campaign to pressure the Malaysia Government to release the five jailed HINDRAF activists. If the Indians can lay siege to Abdullah Ahmad Badawi until he quit as Prime Minister what hardship is that for a Dayak army to arrest a handful of rapists? Yes, Chairman Jabu, I wonder the same. No, Chairman Jabu, we still cannot catch the rapist.

They said because a Sarawak Jabu took his sweet time to response to cries for help from Penan girls in the bushes, the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development from Malaya had to fly over to help those girls. Yes, Chairman Jabu, they flew in haste to Sarawak. No, Chairman Jabu, some girls are already pregnant by the time they got here.

They said SUHAKAM (Human Rights Commission of Malaysia) has to carry out their own investigation because a Sarawak Jabu does not want to waste his time checking on rumours. Yes, Chairman Jabu, you should have checked the rumours. No, Chairman Jabu, you didn’t check it out.

They said a rumour is no longer a rumour if highly credible scouts in the shape of Borneo Resources Institute of Malaysia (BRIMAS) already confirmed the story. Yes, Chairman Jabu, I wonder what took you so long to believe the story when the whole of Malaysia are ready to believe that story. No, Chairman Jabu, you’re not helping yourself.

They said while a Sarawak Jabu waited for proof to find its way to his desk while he was napping, a group of journalists from far and wide went down to the field to look for proofs. Yes, Chairman Jabu, you’re sleeping on the job. No Chairman Jabu, no proof has come to your desk by itself.

Alfred Jabu anak Numpang, where are you going?

I am not yet finished here. Sit down!

They said you don’t want to response to allegations made in a website. They said you have said that will only be a waste of time to investigate. But when blogger Joseph Tawie wrote something about you in his blog brokenshield you were quick to response and investigate. Yes, Chairman Jabu, that’s very ironic. No, Chairman Jabu, we don’t know what you are trying to prove.

Can’t you see the tight spot you put yourself in as Chairman of Penan Sarawak? You are an embarrassment to us and to yourself. You still don’t get it, do you? The forces from Malaya and elsewhere can overcome all obstacles, brave the uncertainties and sidestep protocols to response to a distress voice from the jungle while a Sarawak Jabu, the Chairman of Penan Sarawak, cannot even clear the first hurdle.

You still don’t get it, do you? While the whole of Malaya, including their hordes of bloggers, are deliberating night and day devising plans for the Penan rescue, Alfred Jabu anak Numpang, the Chairman of Penan Sarawak, can only be bothered about protecting Sarawak image against foreign propagandas. For all we know the adverse influences you fear are merely played up by your hallucination, your paranoia or phobias or hypochondrias or Dayak Syndrome.

Yet your most embarrassing moment is when Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri George Hong Nam anak Chan – so long the name so far the vision –, a Chinese who could not even speak Dayak, stepped in to do what you cannot do for the Penans. In case you didn’t see it, George and Chan is stepping in because you’re starting to mess it up for the Sarawak Government – Again. I’m sure you hate to be reminded of your messing up big time during the helicopter drama in Bario Highland 2004, not to mention your howler, gaffer-prone, and fanatical optimism. George anak Chan wrestled the job as Director of Operation from you but by then it was already too late as the seven men onboard the ill-fated helicopter were already dead.

Now I’m banging my head against the wall. A Chinese, unknown even to the Penans, someone who looked so pale that leeches don’t find him appetising, now meddles with the Penan affair – and does it right – while a Chairman of Penan failed the Penans.

Think Penan
I know it’s hard for you to stomach this thing I said to you, Chairman Jabu, but please bear with me a little longer because it’s not you we need to save here but the Penans. So if you think you’re the Chairman of Penan start thinking like Penan.

All the projects and infrastructures you plan and build for the Penan Sarawak no doubt are of value to the Penans and they are grateful to you for that, although they may not know the RM100 million-fund allocation was actually from the Federal Government. They know you want to settle the 16,000 Penans, including 3 per cent still nomadic. They know you have identified specific project to build handicraft centre and Tadika in Long Bruang in Upper Baram, and that soon the Penans will enjoy the Internet service via project e-Bruang.

They know you’re a good man, Alfred Jabu anak Numpang. But how well do you know the Penans? Your title ‘Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri’ probably means nothing to them but when they start calling you Lake jaau that’s equivalent to Chief Minister of Baram. Has it ever occurred to you, Lake jaau, that the Penans love their children more than they love anything else in the entire world? Did you not see how the parents and even the entire village move in to live near a primary school just to make sure the children can study comfortably and having enough food? What I’m trying to say, sir, is your million-Ringgits projects can mean nothing to the Penans if you disrespect their children and neglect their morale welfare.

Now the Penan children are in danger of sexual harassment you can imagine the worries and sadness paining their parents every day. Your million-Ringgit projects cannot make up for their loss. I thought you knew this already since you’re the Chairman of Penan Sarawak. You are after all Iban, if not devil like me.

Learn the Penan psyche and reorganise your priorities. Maybe you think building infrastructures for the Penans is more important. Don’t be surprised if they think Penan-defined human values are more important to them. I repeat, your works are worldly wise but your Penan sentiment is misplaced. You brought luxury to the Penans but what good is that bridal gown if the bride is pregnant? Save the Penan children first, later we worry about building Internet café for them.

In case you don’t know where you’ve been wrong with the handling of priorities for the Penans read below the newspaper reports:

Anonymous has left a new comment here: It's very simple really. The Penan are a PROTECTED SPECIES UNDER FEDERAL LAW. You want to know why, let me tell you why. There is special Jabatan Hal Ehwal Penan in the CABINET under the Prime Minister's Office. THAT IS WHY MALAYA IS VERY WORRIED - THEY DON't WANT THEIR GOLDEN CHILDREN TO BE RAPED BY TIMBER WORKERS. The Police should have been in FORCE on the case the very first instance this allegations surfaced. Jabu as usual makes frivolous remarks. He is the GOERING of Sarawak BN politics.

Where Jabu went wrong

September 22, 2008
Penan girls cry rape
KUCHING: A foreign organisation has claimed that Penan women and girls in the deep interiors of Baram are being sexually abused by logging company workers. The Bruno Manser Fund (BMF), which is based in Switzerland, claimed on its website that the workers were frequenting several Penan settlements looking for women.

September 23
BRIMAS confirms
The Borneo Resources Institute (BRI) substantiated BMF’s claims, adding instances of ‘forced marriages’.

September 22
BRIMAS reports
Borneo Resources Institute’s (BRI) Sarawak coordinator Raymond Abin said that he too has been informed by Penans of the abuses, pregnancies and ‘forced marriages’ – for some time now. “But perhaps the operations offices of the logging companies do not inform the head office of the matter,” said Abin when contacted today. “Even if they are aware, the most that they would do when their workers are involved is to transfer them to other operations offices,” he added. He said due to the distance between the interior settlements and closest police stations, police reports are rarely lodged. Even if they lodge a police report, will the police act on it?” he asked in reference to long standing complaints of the police acting in favour - and sometimes on behalf - of the state-backed logging companies.

September 24
JABU denies one time
KUCHING: Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Alfred Jabu today dismissed the claims of a Swiss non-governmental organisation Bruno Manser Fund that Penan women and girls were being sexually abused by workers from two logging companies. Jabu said unless the organisation was able to give specific details of their allegations, it would be a waste of time to investigate. “Show proof. Tell us where and which Penan settlement. I have not heard of such complaints from the Penan communal leaders in my many visits to ulu Baram,” said Jabu.

September 25
JABU denies two times
KUCHING: The report of Penan women being sexually abused by logging camp workers was mere sensationalisation. It was meant to smear the good name of Sarawak, said Deputy Chief Minister, Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Alfred Jabu yesterday. He said that the foreign organisation making the claim was fond of sensationalising events to create stories to earn a living. “I’ve just came back from the Penan areas, meeting their leaders and people but no such thing was reported to me. But if the allegations were true then the non-governmental organisation (NGO) concerned should be specific. State the logging area and who are involved. Otherwise we are just wasting our time with such an NGO preying upon any situation just to create sensationalisation without respect to the facts...respect to the truth,” he said when asked to commend on the claims by the Bruno Manser Fund (BMF). (

October 1
SUHAKAM steps in
MIRI: Suhakam will investigate claims about timber workers sexually abusing Penan women and girls in the deep interior of Sarawak. The probe by the human rights commission will begin after the Hari Raya holidays, its commissioner for Sarawak Dr Mohd Hirman Ritom told The Star yesterday. “We must establish the truth. These allegations are very serious in nature, especially if they involved natives who are isolated and defenceless. They are allegations of a criminal nature, not just a violation of human rights. We will have to visit those areas where such alleged crimes took place and speak to the people in those areas. If there is any truth to these allegations, then Suhakam will have to make sure the police and the relevant authorities do something against those who had victimised these natives,” he said.

SARAWAK POLICE also stalling
No report lodged: Sarawak Police cannot investigate
Sarawak Police Commissioner Datuk Mohmad Salleh had said that the police had not received any official report on the allegations.

Suhakam commissioner for Sarawak Dr Mohd Hirman Ritom said the Sarawak police must find out why there were no such official reports. “Is it because the Penans are afraid to come forward and lodge official reports? Maybe the reports have not been accepted or they have been threatened or maybe it is due to logistic problems,” he said.

“The excuse by the Sarawak police that there is no official report and thus they cannot investigate is shallow and unacceptable,” said Kuala Lumpur Suhakam commissioner Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria.

He said the Sarawak Government should initiate their own investigations into the allegations.

October 1
PETALING JAYA: The Women, Family and Community Development Ministry will investigate claims about timber workers sexually abusing Penan women and girls. Its minister, Datuk Dr Ng Yen Yen said she has instructed the director-general of Women Affairs to meet Sarawak deputy chief minister Tan Sri Alfred Jabu to get more information immediately after the Hari Raya holidays. “We are very concerned about the matter. I have also talked to the Health Ministry to do something as we want to ensure the health of the Penans has not been compromised,” she said. Alfred Jabu, who is also the chairman of the steering committee on the Penans, had previously dismissed the sexual abuse claims saying he had not heard such complaints from Penan community leaders. Dr Ng was responding to a statement from Suhakam commissioner for Sarawak, Dr Mohd Hirman Ritom, who had said on Tuesday that the commission would investigate the sexual abuse claims.

October 6
A visit to several villages reveals the prevalence of sexual abuse since the advent of commercial logging. Village leaders who readily air their grouses of hardship brought by logging are hesitant to talk about the sexual exploitation by workers from nearby logging camps. Bulan Laing, a female elder of Long Pakan claims that violation of the women began around 1996 when a logging company began operation in middle Baram. “There have been three pregnancies so far; the last one was in 2006. In one case, the woman married the Indonesian worker who violated her but was later divorced after she was sexually abused by another worker,” recalls Bulan. Asked if the cases were reported to the police, Bulan appears not to know that rape is a criminal offence. “We complained to the camp manager. He assured us that they would take action against their men but we’re still suffering.” Her husband, headman Pada Jutang, says: “We’ve lost hope in the police taking any action. So we stopped going to them.” Further north in the Apoh region, Long Belok’s headman Alah Beling recalls no less than four cases of sexual violation. The latest incident resulted in a baby born last December. He reckons that the known numbers could just be the tip of the iceberg. Victims who do not end up with unwanted pregnancies may choose to remain silent to hide their shame.

Following recent publicity of the alleged sexual abuse of Penan women in the local media, Sarawak Police Commissioner Datuk Mohmad Salleh says the force needs a police report to be lodged to facilitate investigations.

Dismayed by the police response, the Women’s Centre for Change pointed out that according to the Child Act 2001, the authorities must take action if they suspect child sexual abuse has taken place. Under the Act, anyone below the age of 18 is a child.

The Women, Family and Community Development Ministry and the Human Rights Commission have announced that they will investigate the claims.

Last year, a 16-year-old student from Long Kawi, a settlement in the Middle Baram, became pregnant after being raped while returning to her boarding school. She gave birth recently. At Long Belok, Rina (not her real name) who was raped in her house and delivered a baby girl in May 2005, is fearful of timber camp workers. “If I see them in the village, I will run and hide in the forest.” Mindy (not her real name) of Long Item, recounts the intimidation, deceit and harassment of a 40-something man who works for Interhill. “We know him as Ah Heng. My parents and I got a ride in his vehicle from Ba Abang sometime in 2005. Shortly after that, he came looking for me in the village. He offered to take care of me but I declined. He then said I should give in or he would hurt me and my family,” says the 21-year-old woman who eventually acceded to his demands and has since borne him two girls, one in 2006 and another in February.

October 7
GEORGE CHAN steps in
KUCHING: Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan has called for a full
investigation into claims of sexual abuse of Penan girls by timber workers. “This is a serious allegation and I hope that a complete investigation will be done to find out what’s going on,” he said on Tuesday.

Borneo Resources Institute of Malaysia (Brimas) project director Raymond Abin said there were cases of Penan women and girls being sexually assaulted by loggers in the deep interior of Baram. "I have heard of such cases, but I do not know how widespread they are." He said Brimas, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) which had a close relationship with the Penan community, would go to the ground and gather evidence of sexual abuse by loggers on Penan women and girls. He said Brimas wanted to verify allegations made by the Bruno Manser Fund (BMF), a Swiss-based non-governmental organisation, that loggers had harassed and raped Penan women and girls. Abin said there was truth in BMF's allegations. Abin said Brimas would report its findings to the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam). "We want Suhakam to conduct a public inquiry into the sexual abuse against Penan women and girls by loggers. The exploitation of the Penans has to be stopped once and for all."

JABU tries damage control
"We need solid evidence to present cases of sexual abuses to the state government," said deputy chief minister Tan Sri Alfred Jabu, who is in charge of Penan affairs. Alfred had recently denied that sexual abuses had ever taken place.

BRIMAS doubtful of Jabu’s source
On Jabu's statement that the sexual abuses had never taken place, Abin said the minister should have met the Penan elders at a proper forum. "From what I know, Jabu had met the community leaders from Baram where some of them spoke in praise of the government." He said he did not think that the community leaders would be brave enough to speak about sexual abuse at such a gathering. Abin said Jabu should meet ordinary Penans and learn the truth behind the allegations.

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