Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Blockade ends, but Penans to fight on


theantdaily team

KUCHING: The blockade imposed on the Murum Dam by the Penan villagers may have ended, but the struggle for social justice is far from over.

The blockade ended on Sept 4 after some Penan representatives met with the authorities for talks over their demands.

The blockade was dismantled under the watchful eyes of the police.

Each longhouse sent two representatives to meet with Liwan Lagang and Belaga district officer Abdul Halim Abdullah.

But according to sources, leaders from the main indigenous tribes were not invited to the talks. These tribes are the ones who refused to be relocated if their demands were not taken seriously.

They are even contemplating mounting another blockade in the near future.

“At the meeting with the district officer, the government promised to pay only RM10,000 for each family after they moved to the Tegulang new resettlement scheme,” said a source.

This fell far short of the demand of the main Penan tribes who wanted RM500,000 for each family. Their other demands include 25 hectares of land for each family, 10 per cent royalty from the Murum Dam, and compensation for their family and ancestral cemetery land.

The main tribes were miffed that some of their leaders from Long Tangau, Ramli Bujang and Awa Juman were not informed or invited for discussions with the district officer.

Sources said that at the negotiations, the Penans especially from Long Wat expressed their readiness to move to Tegulang resettlement scheme.

But those from Long Tangau and Long Singu, the main indigenous tribes, who are to be resettled at the Metalon resettlement scheme, refused to budge until the government fulfilled their demands.

They complained that during the meeting, the agenda should have been about the Penan’s demands; however, it was sidelined and instead the talks focused on the process of moving to the new resettlement.

This caused more dissatisfaction among the affected villagers.


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