Sunday, May 9

Penan women Association to send memorandum to relevant ministries

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MIRI: The Penan Women Association of Baram, Sarawak (PWPBS) will be sending a memorandum to the relevant ministries and departments, especially those dealing with native customs.

According to its chairman Jonita Ayat at a press conference yesterday, the memorandum contains the demands and request of the Penan community in Baram.

“This memorandum is made following the government’s failure in fulfilling the request and taking care of welfare of the Penans in Sarawak,” she said.

Among the demands listed in the memorandum is for the government to provide adequate basic facilities for the community, including medical services, education and better transportation.

“We want the government to build a better equipped health clinic with experienced medical staffs.

“Currently, there are very few clinics operating in the Penan areas and these clinics only cater to minor cases. Serious cases would be referred to Marudi Hospital and Miri Hospital which are very far away,” she pointed out.

Jonita added that this is a problem to pre and post natal mothers as the limited medical services can endanger the life of mothers or their newborns.

Apart from that, she said, PWPBS also demanded that the government build more primary schools for the community, particularly in the main focus areas.

She identified the main focus areas as Long Win, Long Nen, Long Beluk, Long Lilin and Long Kawi.

“These are remote areas and the closest schools to these areas are about four to five hours drive. We want the government to build primary schools closer to the villages so that our young children do not have to stay in boarding schools and be separated from us,” she disclosed adding that some are only seven years old and are too young to be on their own.

Another demand is for the government to carry out capacity development programmes and training for Penan women, youth and children in the field of entrepreneurship, health care, food nutrition, disease prevention, special education programme for the illiterates and school dropouts as well as socio-economy trainings for youths.

The press conference held yesterday was arranged for PWPBS by Friends of the Earth Malaysia (SAM).

Also present was SAM Sarawak coordinator Jok Jau Evong, PWPBS vice chairman Rabika Kalang and secretary Rajina Ubang.