31th Oct 2009
KUCHING – The Penans have learnt from the mistakes of the past and are taking the hackers’ approach.
With a little social engineering, they outwitted the security guards and officials at Wisma Bapa Malaysia to achieve what they came for – hand over a memorandum protesting against the building of dams in the Sarawak interior.
“We tricked the security guards and officials by telling them we had a letter for the chief minister and his deputy,” said Penan representative Philip Jau on Friday.
Stealth in small group
“There were four of us only instead of a large group, and we managed to deliver the memorandum to the officials, although Taib (CM Abdul Taib Mahmud) and Jabu (DCM Alfred Jabu) were not in.”
Jau was accompanied by three Penan leaders.
“We have learnt a lesson from our last attempt to hand over the memorandum,” he said, adding that 10 others were waiting away from Wisma Bapa Malaysia. On Sept 16, the same group of 14 Penans wanted to send the same memorandum to Taib and Jabu but they refused to see them. The 14 were instead arrested by the police on grounds of illegal assembly in front of Wisma Bapa Malaysia.
600 voices of dissent
Tua Kampung Madai Saluk of Long Luar, Belaga, told reporters on Friday that the 62-page memorandum contained about 600 signatures from 18 longhouses expressing opposition to the construction of dams in Baram and Murum in Belaga.
“You (the state) drown our land, our properties and longhouses and want us to move out, but to where? This is really disempowering us,” he said.
He cited the Batang Ai and Asap examples as mass relocations gone wrong.
“We have seen how the people especially in Asap suffer. Many of them have returned to their original longhouses as they can no longer bear the miseries and hardships in the new settlements.”
“We do not want to suffer like them.”
More to lose than gain
In the memorandum to the chief minister, the Penans expressed concern that the Murum dam would create social unrest and threaten their way of life apart from destroying whatever they hold dear in the land of their birth.
“For us along Sungai Peleiran-Murum, we will not be spared the impact of the dam if the government proceeds with its construction. Because of its damaging impact, we the Penans from these areas in one voice urge the government to cease immediately the construction of the Murum dam.
“We also appeal to the government not to force us to move out from our land and settle in areas far from our ancestral land,” the Penans added - Malaysianmirror, Joseph Tawie