Monday, October 7, 2013

Police to arrest 40 more Penans

The government has dispatched more police personnel including 43 members of the Public Order Riot Unit (PORU) to the Murum dam site in Belaga in an effort to arrest 40 Penans who are said to be involved in putting up blockades to protect against the impoundment of the dam.

NONELast Wednesday, their leader Ngang Buling was arrested and detained, but was released on Friday on police bail. He is to be charged under Section 448 of the Penal Code for trespassing and is expected to appear in court on Nov 4, 2013.

In arresting Ngang, chairman of Peleiran Murum Penan affairs Committee, there was a commotion as about 300 Penans rushed to the police wanting to be arrested.

The police have to fire shots in the air to warn them.

Belaga Police Chief DSP Bakar Sebau said that the Police are looking for 40 Penans in connection with the Murum dam blockades.

"We are in the process of identifying these 40 Penans for a similar offence as their leader Ngang Buling.

"If we find them at the site, we have to arrest them," Bakar was quoted as saying.

He also confirmed that the police have dispatched more personnel including the 43 PORU personnel to the dam site.

Meanwhile, Sarawak PKR today warned the state government that it is worsening the already critical situation at the Murum hydro-electric dam site by sending more police personnel to reinforce the presence of the police already at the dam site.

"The sending of more police personnel including 43 PORU members is intimidating and will not solve the problem at hand.

"If the authority thinks that they can cow the Penans by the presence of the police, they are wrong," said Baru Bian, state PKR chairperson when asked to comment on the government's move.

"The solution is for the government to engage directly with the Penans not any Tom, Dick and Harry.

"The government must pay equitable compensation according to the law," said Bian, who has been asked by the Penans to represent them in the event they sue the government.

Doing their duty
NONECommenting on the same issue, Land Development Minister James Masing said the police are simply doing their duty to ensure that works on Murum dam is carried out peacefully.

"If more personnel are required so be it," he said, adding: "I am confident that the authorities involved in Murum hydro-electric project will not shortchange any community affected by the Murum dam.”

"I hope that local NGOs do not just make noise or appear to look busy to be seen to do some works by their foreign counterparts," he said.

Following the impoundment of the dam two weeks ago by Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB), the owner of the Murum dam,  the Penans have intensified their demands by mounting blockades as they fear that their demands are just being ignored.

Among the demands are RM500,000 per family for the loss of their properties, 25 hectares to be allocated to  each family, 30,000 hectares of forested area be allocated for their hunting needs and 10% royalty from SEB profits.

The Penans have lodged a police report against SEB for not informing them about the impoundment of the dam, which they believe are threatening their safety and their properties.
More than 1,500 Penans are forced to be relocated to Tegulang and Metalun.

So far 89 families have moved to Tegulang, while the remaining 264 families from six Penan villages and one Kenyah village are yet to move out even though the water level in the dam is rising very fast.

The RM4 billion dam is expected to submerge their villages and more than 24,000 hectares of Penans' heartland.

~ Malaysiakini

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