MIRI: The disappearance of Bruno Manser is a mystery that can only be solved upon knowing of his whereabouts and finding of his remains if he had died.
“I will let you know if he is still alive and in hiding or whether his body has already been found if he has died. It is a mystery and will be forever a mystery,” author Ruedi Suter said after the launch of his book – Rainforest Hero … The Life and Death of Bruno Manser – here yesterday.
There are a lot of speculations going around on Manser since his disappearance without trace in 2000.
“Many believe he is still alive and in hiding somewhere as he has failed in his mission to fight for the Penan community and the rainforest. We will only know if he reappears and when his remains and his belongings are found somewhere,” he added.
Suter said it would be hard for a person to remain in hiding in the forest for 15 years. If he chose to hide in other country, he said it would be impossible for someone not to realise his presence in their midst.
In his research for the book, Suter travelled all the way to the Baram to gather and trace Manser’s footsteps through meeting and interviewing Manser’s friends.
On whether Manser was married a Penan girl and had a family in the Baram, Suter, who is also a journalist said; “I have no knowledge whether he has taken a Penan girl as his wife and having a family back in Baram.
“I didn’t meet any Penan kids with blue eyes and resemble Manser during my research for my book.”
Former Penan penghulu, James Lalo Keso, from Long Lamai who was also present at the book launch also said he had no knowledge of Manser’s marital status.
“I met him a couple of times but he didn’t tell me he is married to a Penan girl and have a family. If he is married I am sure I would know about it as other Penans will tell me.”
He added that Manser was supposed to meet someone in Batu Lawi when he was last seen and heard before his disappearance in 2000.
James said he and other Penans also embarked on an operation to look for Manser soon after the news on his disappearance came out.
“We traced his footsteps but cannot find him or his body. We cannot say or produce any proof to say he is still alive or have died. We don’t know and clueless of what really happened to him.”