Sarawak food shortages: Who are the storytellers?


sarawak cleared land

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?

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11 Jul 2010 8.43pm

If only the government made time to evaluate these logging companies before it allowed them for clearing. The people of Sarawak are now paying for this oversight.

11 Jul 2010 6.02pm

In the first place, the government should have evaluated the logging companies before it gave them permission to clear the land. Now, leniency has taken a toll on … the people in Sarawak.

Yow Chuan
Yow Chuan
2 Sep 2009 9.13am

Can you eat oil palms for breakfast, lunch and dinner?

25 Aug 2009 7.39pm

I am interested to help out as well. went to help with the flooding and the same line was given. Ah, the flood was due to excessive rain. The draugh was caused by El Nino. The fish died because they ran away with the big animals. Utter rubbish. It is the logging!!

25 Aug 2009 4.56pm

You forgot to mention DCM George Chan’s claims that Penans can find food in jungle, so how can be starving? Arrghh.. tweeted that link but it’s buried under too many tweets – however the story is up on Borneo Post.

25 Aug 2009 2.24pm

Khobu, this is basic need & require immediate contribution. Pls help first & take action on the culprit later.

Let the SABM take up the case with the Authority Concerned.

The PM should lead the way to effect his 1Malaysia concept.

Let’s join the people power and put our suggestion forward in his 1Malaysia Webpage.


25 Aug 2009 12.33pm

They deserve what they got. Afterall they have voted for the BN’s politics of development. You reap what you sow.

25 Aug 2009 11.51am

…. sucking the people blood and your own people up there on the tree.

25 Aug 2009 11.36am

Very, very upset & angry…!!!! How can the goverment let these happen…??? “WE ARE NOT 3RD WORLD COUNTRY, U KNOW…!!!” As long as “nothing” is highlighted, eyes are closed…!!!! Why keep “making” the rakyat, “the ones”, to always take the “s…?????????????????? And who is now having a “gooooooood meal”..????? Please lah..!! Stop the bloody logging once & for all..!!! How greedy can one keep going, Anil…????? It breaks my heart seeing people “have to” line up for food. Sigh……………!! I thought “People 1st”…! Yah… People will be the 1st to line up for food..!! I thought “Performance Now”… Yah right..!!… Read more »

25 Aug 2009 10.11am

This is a real misguided tactice by Mr. Joseph Entulu. The constituency of Belaga is under PRS, under the leadership of Mr. James Masing. Tell me when on earth the Natives ever die without food especially the Penans. Their rivers have been polluted for donkey years, the jungle had beeen logged and now the land has been cleared for Oil Palm and Planting of trees. Soon will be flooded by the Damned dams: Bakun and Murum dams. WHO IS RESPONSIBLE? it is (the major logging and plantation companies). Why dont Mr. Joseph Entulu ask these companies to give food to… Read more »

25 Aug 2009 9.43am

Who are the story tellers? The BN govt in Sarawak. Raping the land is not enough. They have expanded their wings to plunder people in west Malaysia. Look at Tiong. He plundered PKFZ.

Burung Kenyalang
Burung Kenyalang
16 Jun 2010 11.36pm
Reply to  LBJ

Sarawak Boleh!!!! The West Malaysians always look down on Sarawakians and Sabahans as inferior to them…good on you, Tiong….but share a bit lah…

25 Aug 2009 9.42am

What a disgrace. Malaysia is an abundant country with resources far exceeding even Western countries like the UK and France. Some even say that we are richer than even the UK for we have virtually everything under the sun (resources) with no natural calamities that the government has to fork out money to rectify. Other countries, governments face huge bills for natural calamities such as typhoons, tornadoes etc. Canada is a good example. Also, the governments pay for healthcare, social security, looking after the old and unemployed etc. In Malaysia, despite having tin, gold, copper, oil, natural gas, rubber, palm… Read more »

the Brain Dead
the Brain Dead
25 Aug 2009 9.06am

WOW, must be some kind of wild animal. To me, if it is wild animals, it must be those monsters from Ultraman series.

Deputy Rural and Regional Development Minister Joseph Entulu Belaun is brain dead to know it’s monsters from Ultraman series or what?

Wong Ka Wai
25 Aug 2009 8.57am

Let’s help these starving child in Penan.

I have done so. Please do your little part.

Donation information can be found here: