“Negative NGOs”

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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

Desmond Davidson

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.”

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Katharina Sri (former: Noor Aza)

I hope this struggle on this issue will be persistent until justice is done! This is highly critical, and such NGO coalition should also give a memo to EU, Japan & US Ambassadors, and campaign on this issue specifically, in the EU especially amongst EU NGOs since these countries are among the biggest exporters of Malaysian timber and palm oil. The spokesperson from the Penan rape victims can be brought to Europe to further campaign on this, through Bruno Manser Fond for example. The Church communities must also be more outspoken on this issue as most Penans are devoted Christians;… Read more »

grateful EM

Anil, I’ve been following your articles and posts on Sarawak and Sabah for sometime. I just want to say that I’m very grateful that a person such as yourself has devoted so much of your effort and time to highlight issues in East Malaysia which many of our West Malaysian counterparts, and even a good number of my EM fellow citizens are not aware of, thanks to tight media controls and state propaganda machinery. You’ve said everything I wanted to say about Jabu and Masing’s ridiculous statements and comments about sexual abuse faced by the Penans. Quite frankly, I thought… Read more »

fencesitter

After being a Malaysian myself for 30 years, I am still appalled that our fellow countrymen the natives of this land are still being severely marginalized by our government. The indigenous people in peninsular and east Malaysia still lives in the same way their ancestor lived with almost zero amenities and technology. A stark contrast to aboriginal people in foreign country where these people had evolved and blanded so well in the modern society. Look at the Australian aboriginal, American natives, Taiwanese indigenous people, you can’t see them any different from their other races. But here, it’s a pathetic to… Read more »

Andrew

Deputy CM Jabu remains sceptical since he has limited intellectual faculties and only acts on directives from his Feudal Lord and Master, CM Abdul Taib Mahmud. Note please that he has not read the reports but is happy to make dumb-ass statements. As well, Jabu and his family have little appreciation of what it means to be a victim of a sex crime. Such a stance speaks volumes about the low-class, garbage- and gutter-quality of the key politicians in Sarawak. Satu lagi projek BN – i.e. to condone rape and sexual crimes against the most marginalised people in Sarawak (and… Read more »

KSTan

Taib, Jabu and Masing. They are all in the same boat exploiting the forests at the expense of the forest and the indigenous people. In the article, Penan tribe escalates anti logging campaign dated 23 Aug 09 in Mkini, Masing was quoted as saying the Penan were “good storytellers” and their claims should be treated with caution. “the Penan are the darlings of the West, they can’t do anything wrong in the eyes of the West.” Another case of the victim of rape asked for it ? And now Masing says he is stunned or shocked. What a phony remark… Read more »

caravanserai

Penan report Alleged rapes and abuses Why some Sarawakian leaders deny it? Because they don’t see it happen! The hinterland mass of green It takes days to go into it In this forest of nature The powerful takes control In the law of the jungle A good political leader Read the report and allegations Go down to the ground Before he throw words Denying it ever happens The symptoms breed In Federal and State leaders Always deny or wrongly quoted Favourite words hiding the truth They think people are fools Wasting time and energy Go to the ground The forest… Read more »

nkkhoo

I did visit a Penan permanent village or settlement provided by state government many years ago and feel sad they are made zoo-like showpiece for tourists. Tourists are most interested on Penan women’s breast feeding than their traditional lifestyle.

DNA tests can prove who fathered the children. Anyway, I doubt those loggers involved in rape still there after many years of inaction by the police.

Wong Ka Wai

Kita mesti bersatu mengutuk kerajaan ini.

Belum lihat laporan sudah cari bermacam-macam alasan. Saya rasa tiada harapan bagi mereka memperbaiki keadaan di Penan, Sarawak.

Sudahlah kekurangan makanan, kaum wanita dirogol pula. Petugas Pakatan Rakyat mesti aktif ke situ untuk mendaftarkan penduduk yang layak mengundi. Kerajaan negeri sekarang mesti ditukar kerana mengabaikan kebajikan masyarakat mereka.