What's the point of having 1Malaysia clinics in cities which already have so many hospitals and private healthcare facilities?
KUCHING: Puzzled members of the Penan community in Upper Baram today visited the Sarawak Health Department to ask why there was no 1Malaysia clinic in their village.
“We have heard many times about 1Malaysia clinic. We thought that 1Malaysia clinic is to be built in every village including a Penan village. It is pointless to build 1Malaysia clinics in cities and towns where there are already health services available,” said Stanely Petrus, a Penan from Long Lamai.
Petrus is in Kuching together with eight others including ex-Penghulu James Lalo Keso, Tua Kampung Bian Belare (Long Lamai) and Tua Kampung Pada Jutang of Long Pakan to visit a number of departments regarding problems that affect their health, education and their livelihood.
So far they have visited the Departments of Health and Education.
Speaking to reporters here, Petrus said: “The nearest clinic to Long Lamai is at Long Banga which is several hours on foot, while Penans at Long Ajeng take two weeks on foot to reach Lio Matu clinic.
“About 20 years ago we have asked for a clinic to be built at Long Lamai where there is a school and more than 100 families.
“Sadly, until today nothing comes out of our request.
“With so much being talked about 1Malaysia clinics, we would have thought our villages at Long Lamai should be given priority instead of having 1Malaysia clinics in towns and cities where there are already hundreds of clinics and hospitals.
“With the building of a clinic nearby our settlements, a lot of things can be solved. One, it will help contribute to the improvement of health of the Penan people.
“Secondly, it will help solve the problem of registration of birth and the issuance of birth certificates and MyKad.” Majority cannot vote
According to Petrus, a majority of Penans and their children from 60 villages do not have birth certificates and MyKads.
“The majority of Penans cannot vote,” he added.
Petrus said they had informed the health officials here of their problems especially in transporting seriously ill persons to the nearest clinic, which is several hours by foot.
They requested that the flying doctor service be extended to cover Ulu Baram and that medical staff be sent to their villages.
The Penans also informed officials of their problems when seeking medical treatment at Miri Hospital.
According to a state policy, any Penan who seeks medical treatment at the Miri Hospital should be treated for free.
But according to Petrus, they still pay for the costs of medical treatment and this is mainly due to them not having any identification to say that they are Penans.
“We have to borrow money from somewhere to seek treatment,” said Petrus, adding that the health officials had promised to send a team to investigate their claims with the view to building a clinic in their settlement.
Meanwhile, their attempt to meet Second Resources Planning and Environment Minister Awang Tengah Ali Hassan regarding their proposal to create a “Penan Peace Park” encompassing an area of 1,630 sq km at Tutoh and Upper Baram proved futile.
The Penans had submitted a proposal to Awang Tengah in May last year seeking the state government’s help to turn the area into a protected zone.
The proposal is aimed at defending the rights of the Penans, their forest, the sources of their food and adat (customs).
“That is why they are now in Kuching. Tengah has, however, yet to study their proposal,” said Petrus.