Sunday, March 24

Woman claims unfairly treated by village headman

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Helen (right) shows a jointly signed document as proof of her claims and her right to build her house on the said land.

MIRI: A single mother lodged a police report on Monday that she was ‘bullied’ and not treated fairly simply because she had different political views from the longhouse headman and those under his care.

Helen Kiyong, a Penan from Rumah Peberi, Sungai Menok in Tinjar, said the relationship between the headman and her worsened when a land lot given to the longhouse folk to build a house in 2009 was ‘withdrawn’ from her by the headman.

“In our agreement dated Aug 12, 2009, he gave us a piece of land to build our longhouse, based on a payment which has been agreed upon and paid. The construction of the new longhouse started in 2013.

“In 2017, when I wanted to construct my ‘bilik’ (house) at the end of the longhouse, our headman suddenly changed his mind, apparently because I had shown my support to Elia Bit (former PKR candidate for Marudi). I feel that his reason is unacceptable,” said Helen.

Helen claimed that the matter was further discussed between the community leaders and the headman during which a decision was made to split the area into two – 20 square feet to be used for the construction of the village’s ‘Rumah Kaum Ibu’ while 16 square feet was to be given to her to build her family’s house.

However, that decision which was made before Tinjar community leader Penghulu Patrick Jelaman was rejected by the headman, Peberi Magelit, she said.

Not satisfied with Peberi’s act, Helen made a police report at Miri Central Police Station on Dec 10 and forwarded a similar complaint to Bakong district officer.

“I know that his (headman) decision was due to dissatisfaction, because of my political view, because I supported PKR and also gave my support to Roland Engan (PKR candidate for Baram during the last general election),” Helen told The Borneo Post.

In view of that, she urged the relevant authorities to interfere in the matter and find a solution to her problem, so that she can build a house for her family at the longhouse according to what was agreed upon in 2009.

Meanwhile, Peberi in a letter addressed to the administrative officer of Tinjar Sub-District Office, with a copy given to Helen, said the reason he did not let Helen build her ‘bilik’ at the end of the new longhouse was because the area had been allocated for the construction of Rumah Kaum Ibu.

Peberi added that during a special meeting on Oct 13, 2016 involving mothers and women from the longhouse, all of them agreed that the area was to be reserved for Rumah Kaum Ibu and not to let anyone construct anything else at the site.