The release of the federally sanctioned report on the sexual abuse of Penan women and girls has prompted contrasting reactions from Sarawak government leaders.
Take a look at the Borneo Post, which reports that Deputy Chief Minister Alfred Jabu, who had not seen the official report, took a swipe at the messengers, the “negative NGOs”, while casting aspersions on the contents:
Doubts over KL Penan rape report
By Churchill Edward
Jabu says negative NGOs could have a hand in federal government finding
KUCHING: Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Alfred Jabu yesterday questioned the credibility of a government report about allegations of rape of Penan women.
Although he has not seen the actual report from a special task force set up by the federal government as of yesterday, he believed negative non-governmental organisations (NGOs) could have a hand in it.
“There may be a report, but you must remember that negative NGOs were strongly behind it,” he told reporters when told that the report indicated that rape cases as well as sexual exploitations occurred in Ulu Baram where the Penans live. Full report here.
Is this a case of denial syndrome?
If the NGOs are too “negative” for Jabu’s liking, perhaps he might want to consider commissioning a more “positive” report on this issue. It would make for interesting reading…
Jabu’s position seems to be at odds with his cabinet colleague, Land Development Minister James Masing, who is “shocked” and “stunned” and wants immediate action taken, according to this report in the Eastern Times. (Why is he so shocked though?)
Masing: “I am stunned”
KUCHING: Land Development Minister Dato Sri Dr James Masing said he was shocked and stunned by findings which confirmed that many Penan girls were indeed raped by timber workers in Ulu Baram.
“I am stunned! I am shocked! The perpetrators of this hideous crime should not be left to freely roam around among us. They must be punished in accordance with the laws of this land. The authorities concerned must take this matter seriously and find them regardless as to who or where they are,” he said in his signed press statement yesterday.
“Malaysia is not a rogue state, therefore, we cannot simply arrest anybody seen within the vicinity of the Penan communities in Ulu Baram without facts.
“We need all the details to catch the perpetrators of this dastardly deed. Therefore, I would like the Ministry which did the study, the NGOs, the Penan community, and most important of all, the alleged victims, to supply all the details to the authorities. Do not hide them,” he urged, adding that he was confident that the relevant authorities would accord the rapists the punishment they deserved. Full report here.
Jabu’s comments are basically a rehash of what he said in September 2008, as reported in emedia:
Penan sex claim is baseless, says Jabu
25 Sep 2008
KUCHING: Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Alfred Jabu yesterday dismissed the claims of a Swiss non-governmental organisation that Penan women and girls were being sexually abused by workers from two logging companies.
Jabu said unless the Bruno Manser Fund could give details of their allegations, it would be a waste of time to investigate.
“Show proof. Tell us which Penan settlement.
“I have not heard of such complaints from the Penan community leaders in my many visits to Ulu Baram,” said Jabu, who is the chairman of the steering committee on the Penans, after launching Ops Sikap XVII at Km19 of the Kuching-Serian Road.
BMF had posted the allegations on its website, claiming that the workers preyed on students who were in the settlement during school holidays. It also claimed that the abuse had resulted in several pregnancies. Jabu said if the NGO could provide evidence, then the police could take action.
He was also dismissive of BMF, labelling it a “bunch of people who are nothing in their own country but like to sensationalise events elsewhere”. Jabu urged the BMF and other NGOs not to paint a negative picture of Sarawak and to respect the truth. “Hearsay and sweeping statements are unfair to Sarawak.”