Tuesday, November 12

Rohani to ‘revisit’ Penan sexual abuse issue

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ALL HERE: Rohani showing the report by the National Task Force Committee to Investigate into Allegations of Sexual Abuse Against Penan Women in Sarawak during her visit to The Borneo Post regional office yesterday.

A meeting with the national committee investigating the claims will be held soon, minister to get feedback from community

KUCHING: Minister of Women, Family and Community Development Datuk Rohani Abdul Karim will soon meet up with the Penans to get firsthand feedback on sexual abuse allegations.

She will also hold a meeting with the National Task Force Committee to Investigate into Allegations of Sexual Abuse against Penan Women in Sarawak.

The purpose for this “revisit” is also to find out to what extent recommendations made by the task force committee had been implemented.

“During the revisit, we will be going through all the recommendations, and see how many had been implemented. For those recommendations that have not been implemented, we will take it from there,” she said during a visit to The Borneo Post office here yesterday.

Being the Minister of Women, Family and Community Development for only about two months, Rohani said she was keen to know the progress of the implementation of the recommendations by the national task force.

“When I conduct the revisit, then I can provide a lot of information about the findings because I myself would also like to share what I found from the revisit.”

Rohani expressed her surprise and disappointment with Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How who criticised her for not speaking the truth at the 7th Meeting of the Asean Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) in Kuala Lumpur recently.

She said she did not say that most of the recommendations listed in the National Task Force Report, which listed steps to combat problems in areas of sexual abuse, birth registration and citizenship, had been executed.

“I never made that statement during the ACWC. It is very unfair to say I made that statement on Penans during the conference because it has nothing to do with the Penan issue. There were about 20 mainstream papers there and my speech was distributed to all of them.”

Rohani, who is also Batang Lupar MP, said after the press conference, apparently there was a reporter who chucked her microphone and asked her about the Penans.

“There was nothing for me to talk about yet during that time on the issue. All I said was I was going to revisit the Penan issue, and only after that I can make a statement.”

Rohani believed the reporter who wrote the article might be the kind who would spin stories if they did not get the stories they wanted.

She said the incident at the ACWC was not the first time she bumped into unethical reporters.

She faced a similar one during the Global Summit.

“The reporter asked me about the progress of the Altantuya case, and alleged I did not want to entertain the Mongolian delegates at the summit when they wanted to see me.

“I responded by saying it was very unethical for the reporter to say that because I was at the conference every day, and if they wanted to see me I would be there every day.”

Rohani said she was particularly upset with See as he was apparently trying to compare her with state Welfare, Women and Family Development Minister Datuk Fatimah Abdullah.

In rebutting See’s statement that the government had done very little to the recommendations made by the national task force, Rohani said many things had been carried out for the Penans, but a lot of these initiatives were not highlighted to the press.

“There has been progress made, such as the building of schools, transportation and health services. Local companies have also helped them through their corporate social responsibility activities.”

She said during her engagement with the Penans recently, she found that some Penan women had decided to form their own association to protect their interest.

“Our next concern is about early pregnancy, which is not good for the reproductive health of the (Penan) girls’ health. Many of them are still not aware of HIV/AIDS.”