KUCHING: Furious with allegations made by certain quarters that non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and foreigners are instigating the Penans to go against the government, Ba Kelalan assemblyman Baru Bian has challenged them to bring the NGOs and foreigners to the court.
“Arrest the foreigners or agents of foreign NGOs and if they breach the country’s law, prosecute them. Don’t give any excuses and say the Penans are instigated,” he told a press conference here yesterday.
Baru, who is also state PKR chairman, said the allegation was an insult to the intelligence of the Penans, adding that many of them (Penans) were more intelligent than many urbanites.
“They know how to think and they know their rights,” he said.
Baru was particularly angry about an issue pertaining to the resettlement of the Penans which was still unresolved.
“I spoke to one of them and he confirmed that they (Penans) have not been paid a single sen of the RM500,000 compensation that each of them have demanded. They were only paid part-payment for their burial grounds.”
He said although Sarawak Energy Bhd (SEB) was a state government-linked company, it (SEB) should not be dealing with issues like NCR land, land compensation and acquisition of land for public purpose as that should be dealt only by the government.
“I just can’t believe that this (practice) is still on-going. The lives of so many people are at stake. They (Penans) are displaced for a public purpose and you just leave them just like that?”
Baru said he was aware that Assistant Minister of Culture and Heritage, Liwan Lagang, was the minister in-charge of the mediation between the state government and the Penans.
“I would like to hear what has come out of the negotiation between Liwan and the state government. What have been proposed and how are they going to deal with the RM500,000 compensation?”
On his part, Baru said he was willing to assist the Penans to deal with the legal aspects of the issue and that he would be examining their claims and grievances.
“Adequate compensation as provided for under Article 13 of the Federal Constitution and Section 5 of the Land Code has to be addressed.”
He hoped that with the recent decision of the Court of Appeal on the concept of ‘pemakai menoa’, the government would consider the Penans’ hunting and fishing grounds to be compensated.
“If they think, upon advice by the state government legal counsels, that the rights of the NCR land owners could only be claimed upon felled virgin forest, they are wrong.”
Baru said that so far the High Court and Federal Court had made 12 decisions to confirm that ‘pemakai menoa’ which was equivalent to the territorial domain of the native in Sarawak, was claimable.