Logged and cleared for a plantation near Lapok, Sarawak – Photo courtesy of AFP.
More pictures and AFP report here.
Sarawak Rural Development Minister James Masing reportedly admitted some logging companies had behaved badly and “caused extensive damage” but said the Penan were “good storytellers” and their claims should be treated with caution.
The Penan themselves are now experiencing food shortages. Food shortages in Malaysia? Hungry children queuing for food handouts? Who would have thought we would see this day in Malaysia. A Catholic Church in Miri is now providing relief for the Penan in the remote Kapit Division.
The blockades by the marginalised Penan are their desperate last stand in their “final conflict” with the logging and plantation firms. The Sarawak government seeks to double its oil palm coverage – now that its natural (primary) rainforests have been rapidly depleted.
Meanwhile, Deputy Rural and Regional Development Minister Joseph Entulu Belaun blames wild animals for destroying farms in six Penan settlements in Upper Belaga in Kapit and creating a food shortage for some 3,000 people.
“Their farms had been destroyed by wild animals and they are now depending entirely on food that they foraged from the jungle, but the supply is insufficient,” he says.
If it is really true that wild animals are to be blamed, why hasn’t this been a recurrent problem? Why is the jungle supply only insufficient now?
Is it because the wild animals themselves have suddenly lost their own natural habitat (due to logging and forest clearings), forcing them to now forage at Penan farms?
So, who are the real storytellers in Sarawak?