Meanwhile the Murum natives have mounted two more roadblocks in a bid to stop ongoing construction works in the hydroelectric dam project.
KUCHING: A lawyer aiding the affected Penans in Murum has rebutted claims by the Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) that burning down abandoned longhouses in Long Wat was part of the local community’s “recycling” culture.
“We Penans indeed dismantle our old longhouses when we move to new ones, and recycle all the materials. But we never burned them down, “ said Abun Sui Anyit.
He further added: “The burning of the longhouse in Long Wat was most likely done by the sub-contractors for the clearing and dismantling works there.
“How can people accuse us of burning the longhouse when that is against our own customs?”
Speaking to FMT here following SEB’s widely reported justification for allegedly burning down longhouses in Murum following the impoundment of the dam, Abun said “no tribe in Sarawak practiced burning their own house”.
“No tribe or ethnic group in Sarawak practices the abominable culture of burning their very own longhouses!
“Even when they move to a new longhouse, the old longhouse would be respectfully stripped of its timber for recycling purposes. Nothing goes to waste and nothing is destroyed by fire.
“For the authorities to suggest that the Penans burned their own longhouse is a complete and utter fabrication!” he said.
Abun said the Penans condemned the use of burning methods used by SEB’s sub-contractors to clear the area.
Seven longhouse villages are involved in SEB’s relocation program under its Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) for the natives affected by the Murum Hydroelectric Project.
“Let the incident in Long Wat be the last one. We do not want the same thing to happen in the other (old) longhouses. Let we Penans ourselves dismantle them and recycle the materials ourselves,” said him.
Meanwhile, Abun also told FMT that the Murum natives had mounted two new blockades in their effort to stop the ongoing construction works in the hydroelectric dam project.
“I was informed this morning that there are now two additional blockades on the road towards the dam project. There are more people there now, not only Penans but also Kenyah from the longhouses not yet relocated.
“So altogether, there are three blockades now in three separate places. They want to make sure that the (construction) works won’t proceed, and to make sure the government and SEB will come over and talk with them, listen to them and heed to their demands,” said Abun.
On Monday, SEB expressed its concern about the ‘irresponsible act of spreading lies and the attempts to create panic among the public by certain NGOs in relation to the Murum HEP’.
The statement also mentioned the presence of Penan representatives from the affected Murum area with whom SEB said they are currently in discussion with on a range of matters including faster relocation to the new longhouses and compensation packages.