Govt ignores Penan’s choice of resettlement land

By Joseph Tawie, Free Malaysia Today

MIRI: The government’s plan to relocate about 1,000 Penans affected by the Murum Dam project to a 24,000 hectares area has been described as “merely paying lip service”.

“We still don’t know how the government came to a decision on the size of the area without consulting us,” said Ramlie Bujang, a spokesman for the Peleiran-Murum Penan Affair Committee (Pemupa).

Land Development Minister James Jemut Masing recently revealed that the government will alienate 24,000 hectares of the land in upper Murum for the Penans.

“This revelation would be another lip service from the minister,” Ramlie said.

Pemupa represents more than 1,000 residents from six Penan villages: Long Singu, Long Luar, Long Tangau, Long Pelutan (Menapa), Long Malim, Long Wat as well as the Kenyah-Badeng of Long Umba who are directly affected by Murum Dam project.

The Penans have themselves proposed and informed the government on their preferred choice of resettlement areas that have large tracts of natural forest.

They include Metalon River area in upper Peleiran as proposed by four villages – Long Singu, Long Luar, Long Tangau and Long Pelutan (Menapa), the upper Tegulang River area as proposed by Long Wat village and, the upper Malim-Danum area as proposed by two villages of Long Malim and Long Umba.

He said the respective Penans proposed these areas as their resettlement areas because they are still rich with forest resources needed to sustain their daily livelihood.

“We want our forest in these areas to be preserved and free from any kind of human development activities such as logging and large scale plantations,” he said.

Revoke plantation leases

Ramlie also urged the government to revoke the provisional leases for plantations in upper Murum area, and immediately stop companies from further exploitating forests in the area.

“The state government must revoke all the provisional leases for plantations within the catchment area of the Murum Dam project before the Penans agree to be relocated.

“Pemupa is shocked to learn that the state government has leased the Murum catchment area to Shin Yang Forestry Sdn Bhd for an oil palm plantation.

“It is disturbing to learn that the areas which we proposed as resettlement areas have been parceled out for oil palm plantations.