SHAH ALAM, June 17: After not being given any attention by their own State Government or even the Federal Government, the Penan community has come forward to seek help from the Selangor Government.
This is because the Penan community in Sarawak’s interior are fully dependent on forest and river resources which is now like living in exile when the forests are cut down to build the dam.
A representative of the community, Juliet Bulan Singa, 21, said that the large scale logging activities in her area caused the residents to lose their source of food and basic amenities.
“Many forests have been invaded by logging activities, because of that, all our needs such as medicines, wood, rattan and even animals are hard to find,” said Juliet who stays in the Long Pakan rural area in Sarawak.
Meanwhile, another resident, Tabita De’, 32, said that the river which is the major source for cooking, washing clothes and cleaning is also threatened to destruction as it is contaminated from logging activities.
“Basic amenities such as main pipe water, toilets and so on are gone.
“We no longer have water to eat, wash and bathe, and the villagers are sick due to using contaminated water,” she said.
In addition to having logging trouble, the Penan community also face difficulties in getting identification cards and birth certificates as well as some basic facilities such as clinics and schools.
Juliet and Penan community women representatives were met when they were having a meeting with the Welfare and Women’s Affairs Exco, Rodziah Ismail at her office here at the Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah Building today.
In the meantime, Rodziah said that the State Government will consider to form a special assistance for the Penan community in various aspects.
“As a conclusion of this meeting, I will send it to the State Government on how to indirect assistance can be given under our assistance mission under the welfare policy to people outside Selangor,” she said.
She said that the Minister of Women, Family and Community Development, Datuk Rohani Abdul Karim should pay serious attention to the Penan community which has allegedly been abused for so long.
“If the Federal Government does not want to repeat past mistakes, they should listen and make decisions regarding the Penan community case,” she added.
Rodziah also expressed disappointment on the issue of basic needs such as health issues which have not been taken seriously by responsible parties.
“I, together with other Pakatan Rakyat (PR) Members of Parliament will take this matter to heart.
“I am trying to organise my visit to personally meet with the Women’s Minister to discuss matters such as this,” she said.
Prior to this, the Selangor Government channeled an assistance of RM50,000 to the ingenious communities of Sarawak for the purpose of improving some basic needs.