Penan Starvation: People First, Performance Now?

by Augustine Anthony

Time and again I have said that our country is a land of milk and honey but we now suffer a well entrenched system of governance that betrays its own people.

The news report in Utusan Online under caption “Lebih 3,000 Penan kebuluran” is one by product of a system failure.

Malaysia is seen on many occasions as a generous contributor whenever there are calamities around the world. Some of the aids that are despatched are laudably swift, perhaps within days or weeks of such calamities.

Of course we welcome such generosity of Malaysia. But what about our own backyard?

It is reported that more than 3,000 Penan natives from 5 settlements numbering about 264 families are in starvation for the last three months.

What is even more disturbing is the fact that the Deputy Minister of Rural and Regional Development in announcing the plight of the Penan natives had even revealed that some of the natives had resorted to eating wild plants.

It is also reported that the cause of the starvation is the destruction of the natives’ padi plantations by wild monkeys.