Penans sever ties with rights, environmental groups


MISLED: We want change, says Juwin (right).

MIRI: The Penan community in Baram say they now realise that local and foreign human rights groups never really cared for their plight when they claimed to champion their rights locally and internationally.

A leader of the community from Apoh Tutoh in the interior of Baram Juwin Lehan said yesterday they now realised they had been taken for a ride and misled by these groups including Sahabat Alam (Friend of the Earth).

“I myself and others from my community in Apoh Tutoh have been working and supporting their movement because we were captivated by their promises to assist us in the fight which we don’t understand,” said Juwin in an interview with The Borneo Post.

Present during the interview at Miri Resident Office were the Resident Anthonio Khati Galis and Penan community leader Temenggung Datuk Hassan Sui.

“We were showered with many promises and they said they will bring changes to our community. They are all just empty and sweet promises as nothing good had come out from their promises,” said Juwin adding they were fooled by the groups to erect blockades in the interior of Baram.

Funds were raised internationally by the groups but none was given to the community and they had not benefitted from the funds raised by the groups, Juwin added.

“We don’t want to follow and listen to them anymore. They give us more headaches as they are not easy to negotiate with. We want to leave all of it behind us now,” said Juwin, adding they now wanted to work together with the government.

Juwin admitted that Penans lagged far behind other communites in the state.

“Others have looked down on us, thinking that we are beyond help,” he said.

Juwin said the community now realised that only the government had the capability to assist the community through its various policies, programmes and activities.

“We have enough of all their (human rights groups) stories. All are just empty promises which had not benefit our community,”

The Penan chief added that his community no longer wanted to have any connection and relation with these organisations.

He pledged to work and support the government.

“We want to support and work with the government. Only the government could help and assist us as they really care about our people,” he said.