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September 14, 2010

Leaked Samling document acknowledges timber group’s role in sexual exploitation of Penan women

Leaked Samling document acknowledges timber group's role in sexual exploitation of Penan women

“All staff are forbidden to visit Penan villages”: Samling directive over Penan rape allegations (Picture: BMF)

MIRI, MALAYSIA. An internal document from Sarawak’s logging giant, Samling Global (HKEX 3938), leaked to the Bruno Manser Fund, acknowledges for the first time that the timber group is concerned about the involvement of its staff in the alleged rape of native Penan girls and women in Sarawak, East Malaysia.

On 9 July 2010, Chin That Thong, General Manager of Samling’s Forest Operations in Malaysia, sent a directive, entitled “Kes Rogol Wanita Penan” (Rape Case of Penan Women)”, to all Samling timber camp managers, drivers and employees in the Baram river region. The letter informs the logging group’s staff that they are “forbidden to visit any Penan villages or transport any Penan except with the permission of the Camp Managers concerned.” Chin threatens employees who are found to have disobeyed his orders with expulsion from their jobs without compensation.

The letter was sent three days after the Malaysian Penan Support Group published a study that unearthed systematic patterns of sexual violence by loggers against native women in Sarawak’s interior. While Samling had previously denied the involvement of its staff in the sexual abuse cases, this letter indirectly acknowledges that Samling staff are indeed involved and that the group management is concerned over their insufficient control of their employees’ conduct.

Ten days ago, Penan from the Upper Baram region complained that Samling officials had threatened to suspend all the transport services provided for them unless they retracted the sexual abuse allegations.

The leaked document provides strong evidence of the fact that the presence of Samling staff in the Penan areas constitutes a continuous threat to the native communities, and particularly to girls and women. The Bruno Manser Fund is asking the Sarawak state government to halt all logging operations in areas where Samling and other companies operate without the consent of the local communities. The Sarawak government is also being asked to provide free public transport services for the rural communities and, in particular, for schoolchildren.

Samling is a globally operating Malaysian timber conglomerate with an annual turnover of US$ 480 million. In August 2010, the Norwegian Government Pension fund excluded Samling from its portfolio because of the company’s responsibility for illegal logging and severe environmental damage.

(14 September 2010)

Samling_directive_translation.pdf (130KB)


March 30, 2010

Adat and Human Rights in Sarawak

Adat and Human Rights in Sarawak

Prior to the Brooke rule and subsequent colonial administration, the indigenouscommunities, particularly the Dayak groups of Sarawak, were governed by their own respective adat. Over time, this adat has been forcibly changed into a homogenous statebased institution, thereby eliminating its uniqueness to the particular indigenous community. Among other functions, the adat is used by Sarawak’s indigenous communities to claim rights over land, forest resources and their livelihood. The failure to understand the importance of adat to pre-colonial Dayak indigenous communities of Sarawak would render the discourse on human rights futile

Clifford Sather said that adat:

“[…] covers all of the various customary norms, jural rules, ritual interdictions and injunctions that guide an individual’s conduct,and the sanctions and forms of redress by which these norms and rules are upheld…these rules apply to virtually all spheres of human life, social, economic, religious and political.”3

In this sense, adat is an all-encompassing institution that presides over activities such as marriages, religious festivals, death and mourning, childbirth, dance and music,construction of new longhouses, and even traditional past-times such as music and weaving. 

It is also important to note that unlike the Malay notion of adat, the concept of adapt among many Dayak communities of Sarawak is not distinct from religious rituals and practices. It is one and the same thing. According to Ter Haar (1948), the adat is not restricted to what we commonly regard as “customary law”.4 The concept of adapt mentioned in this report is not restricted to the notion of adat as law or rules. Because the adat resembles the generic concept of ‘customs’, it includes all the activities people customarily practise in their society. It also covers the individual’s behavior and personal habits, whether he/she is practising good or bad adat.

Generally, the function of the adat is to ensure harmonious relationship among members within the community and also maintain the general state of wellbeing with the spirit world. Breaching this adat would risk a breakdown in social relationship which is punishable in both the secular and spiritual senses.

The adat and state formation

Before Sarawak came under colonial rule, the indigenous communities did not define their social identities based on ‘ethnicity’ as we understand it today (e.g. Iban, Bidayuh, Kayan). Their social identities were defined by their geographical space, such as people belonging a particular river tributary, hill/mountain or watershed areas. Their social loyalty was based on these geographical spaces and its own kinship system. As such,each community living within a specific geographical space would be governed by its own unique adat

However, with the formation of the state that began with the Brooke administration, the adat – as a concept and its traditional functions – was changed to fit the requirements of the state constitution. The evolution of the adat from its unique traditional form to its constitutional profile today is primarily caused by the adoption of the values of thecolonial and post-colonial governments.

When the Brooke administration began to strengthen its grip on Sarawak in the mid-19th century, the structure of the adat was altered and it was constituted as ‘customary law’.For instance, during the Brooke administration the Iban tunggu (fines) according to the adat were systematised and assigned monetary values. Also, they introduced courts to replace the Iban bechara (hearing) that was usually carried out in a longhouse ruai (verandah) and witnessed by the longhouse inhabitants.These new colonial practices, in replacing the traditional adat, eventually spread to all the indigenous communities in Sarawak.

The adat then became an institution sanctioned by the state. The adat at the local level is administered by the Penghulu or chiefs who receive a salary from the state. Clifford Sather said that due to this ruling and the replacement of traditional adat by the state, the Brookes began to eliminate some aspects of the adat that seemed negative or morally bad by their standards. These included the death penalty for incest, forcible seizure of property, slavery and headhunting. What is left of the adat now is akin to the precious antique collections stored in a government-run institution at the Majlis Adat Istiadat, under the umbrella of the Sarawak Chief Minister’s Office.


March 9, 2010

Rosmah, PM’s wife, faces questions on Penan rapes

Filed under: Human Rights — Pengayau @ 5:20 pm
Tags: , ,

Taken from Hornbill Unleashed

By Pak Bui

PM Najib’s wife Rosmah Mansor was handed a letter by three Sarawakian women during her recent visit to Kuching. The three women called on her to take action to address Sarawak women’s rights, following the government report of Penan schoolgirls and women raped in Baram.

The three women had been following the heart-breaking stories of Penan girls and women sexually abused by employees of logging companies, after the companies had invaded the Penans’ forests.

The three individuals, Malay, Iban and Chinese, went up to Rosmah Mansor while she was having a meal with “high-ranking” Sarawak women, including Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department Fatimah Abdullah and Senator Empiang Jabu.

The letter from the Sarawakian women included attachments of press articles, in a folder with a white ribbon on its cover, symbolising the campaign to end violence against women in Malaysia.

A call to take action

According to the letter, the three women explained that they were regular visitors to Rosmah’s blog. They had read on her blog that Rosmah had proclaimed to be “actively championing women’s issues and advocating women’s rights and interests”. They noted that Rosmah had announced that she would visit the United States in April to address women’s issues on an international platform.

The women said they had been observing the horrific news of the Penan rapes on the mainstream media and on internet news sources.

According to the Ministry of Women task force report, logging company employees and drivers, had been raping girls as young as ten, when they picked the girls up on the way to or from school.

The three women pointed out that the findings of the National Taskforce, set up by the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development, were made public last September.

Although the federal ministry report had confirmed that rape and other types of sexual exploitation had indeed caused suffering among those Penan girls and women, no concrete action has been taken.

“But no concrete measure has been taken by the state government to deal with this issue”, according to the women’s letter.

The three women expressed their anger that the cursory police investigation had been a farce, and an abject failure. They appended several news reports with their letter to Rosmah, that they said had shown the police had closed the case with a shrug.

“We were extremely frustrated and disappointed when the police, who are supposed to be guardians of the law and justice, were hasty to conclude and declare that the Penan sexual abuse case is closed and their probe is over!” they said.

Furthermore, they said, state leaders have unashamedly shown their prejudice against the Penan community. State leaders have been saying that “the Penan are good storytellers and they change their stories when they feel like it” or that “they are nomads and are thus easily manipulated by ‘negative’ NGOs”.


December 30, 2009

X-Fail: Persoalan yang belum terjawab

Original Post  http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/120807

Rakyat Malaysia menunggu ketibaan 2010 mengharapkan jawapan kepada isu-isu yang belum selesai tahun ini. Berikut adalah 10 kes sepanjang 2009 yang belum selesai. Namun mungkin masih ada lagi yang tidak tersenarai di sini.




 Nasib Anwar bergantung pada bicara liwat 11

Awal bulan ini, parti komponen Pakatan Rakyat memperkukuhkan lagi kerjasama antara mereka dengan mempersetujui satu rangka dasar bersama.

Dengan mengetepikan ideologi politik, pakatan PKR-DAP-PAS telah berjaya duduk semeja untuk mengenal pasti bidang-bidang kerjasama dalam usaha untuk menawan Putrajaya dengan teraju Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Bagaimanapun, masa depan Pakatan masih dilindungi awan gelap kerana Anwar sendiri berdepan dengan perbicaraan kes liwat – bagi kedua kalinya.

Ia sepatutnya perbicaraan terbesar 2009, tetapi ia tidak berlaku selepas ketua pembangkang itu memfailkan cabaran demi cabaran di mahkamah terhadap tuduhan tersebut.

Ketua umum PKR itu memfailkan banyak permohonan – daripada memohon mendapatkan tambahan maklumat, kepada permohonan untuk membatalkan tuduhan tersebut. Namun, penghakimannya tidak memihak kepada beliau.

Perbicaraan liwat tersebut dijadual bermula pada 25 Januari ini dan ditetapkan berjalan selama sebulan. Apakah Anwar akan merengkok di penjara untuk kedua kalinya? Dan apakah yang akan terjadi kepada Pakatan jika itu menjadi kenyataan?




 GST dan sumber minyak yang semakin kehabisan

Kerajaan dalam keadaan terdesak untuk memperolehi sumber kewangan tambahan selain daripada hasil sumber minyak dan cukai pendapatan. Petronas menyumbangkan 40 peratus daripda bajet negara sejak sekian lamanya tetapi keadaan ini mungkin terjejas kerana negara semakin kehabisan sumber itu diterokai.

Daripada 12 juta rakyat yang berkerja, hanya 1.8 peratus – atau 15 peratus sahaja – yang membayar cukai pendapatan. Yang lainnya berpendapatan rendah dan tidak perlu membayar cukai. Ekoran keputusan kerajaan mengurangkan cukai korporat daripada 40 peratus pada 1988 kepada 28 peratus sekarang, maka pengenaan cukai baru teramat diperlukan.

Maka munculkan cukai barangan dan perkidmatan (GST), yang dikatakan pada kadar 4 peratus dan bakal menghasilkan pendapatan tambahan RM1 bilion kepada kerajaan. Tapi kerajaan memerlukan tambahan kewangan lebih daripada RM1 bilion untuk menampung kekurangan kutipan cukai, maka GST dijangka meningkatkan pada masa akan datang.

Penentang GST berhujah bahawa ia menguntungkan golongan kaya kerana ia akan memindahkan beban membayar cukai kepada rakyat
biasa. Daripada memperkenalkan cukai baru itu, mereka menyarankan supaya kerajaan menangani pembaziaran dengan mempertingkatkan usaha membanteras rasuah dan memperkenalkan tender terbuka untuk projek kerajaan.


November 23, 2009

Letter from the Sarawak rainforest

Filed under: Sarawak Politics — Pengayau @ 5:20 am
Tags: ,

Taken from http://hornbillunleashed.wordpress.com/2009/11/23/4990/#more-4990

By Sim Kwang Yang

THE disturbing news of the rape of Penan schoolgirls by loggers in Sarawak briefly caught national attention. But the flicker of conscience among Malaysians was soon doused by the deluge of reports of power struggles among the high-and-mighty in Malaysian politics.

It is hard to prolong our attention span on the Penans. They are so few in number: 12,000 in all. They mostly live in the remote, almost inaccessible, headwaters of the two greatest waterways in Sarawak, the Rajang and the Baram Rivers, far away from “civilisation”. There, they pursue their way of life: either settled, or so-called “primitive” nomadic.

They are of interest to few, such as the odd anthropologist from the West. Their lives and problems are incomprehensible to their fellow citizens living and working in the Klang Valley. Klang Valley would look, sound, and feel like a different galaxy to a first-time Penan visitor.

The letter

(© b79/sxc.hu)Distant, remote, and even exotic as the Penans may be to us, we are nevertheless connected to them. This link found its way to my desk in the form of a letter written by a Penan man. His wife signed the letter with her thumbprint, which is not unusual in rural Sarawak.

The narrator of the letter is the husband. The letter was addressed to the Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam), and copied to the Health Minister.

The following is my English translation from the original Bahasa Malaysia. The names of individuals and specific locations have been removed to protect the couple and their community:


Dear Sir,

Re: Baby ****’s death after birth

I would like to lodge a report that my baby ____ has passed away on 6 July 2007.

Ms ____, who was already ripe in her pregnancy, experienced labour pains on the night of 5 July 2007. She asked the nurse, ____, to open the ______ Clinic to deliver her baby. The nurse did not seem to acknowledge the urgency and we had to wait for 10 minutes.

My wife delivered the baby on the cement staircase of the clinic. During that time, the light was not on.

The baby did not cry during delivery.

The nurse held the baby by the legs, and beat its back to make the baby cry. The nurse was squatting on the cement at that time.

The baby fell from the nurse’s hand and dropped onto the cement floor from a height of half a foot. My brother and I witnessed this.

(© Benjamin Earwicker/sxc.hu)After that, the baby cried for three minutes. The nurse took the baby inside the clinic and my wife could feel the baby move, but it could not suckle milk for the entire day.

We named our baby son ____. He was getting weak. I asked the nurse to send ____ to Marudi, but she said: “No need, we will only send him there if his situation gets worse.”

After sundown on 6 July 2007, the clinic assistant asked the nurse to give oxygen to the baby, but was told: “No need, even if we give, he will die.”

We were left in the dark room. There was not even a kerosene lamp. My wife held the baby in the dark.

____ died on 6 July 2007. Dresser ______ came back to the clinic from Marudi or Miri at noon on 7 July 2007. He didn’t say anything. The dead baby’s case has not been reported, even though the nurse was aware of it.

Pastor ____ buried our son on 7 July 2007. The clinic assistant apologised to us but the nurse did not say anything.

The couple sign off here and the letter ends.

Read between the lines

Those who have ever met or worked with the Penans (myself included) would count them among the nicest — and shyest — people on earth. The word “greed” is not even in their vocabulary. They would not even have a harsh word for people who treat them like trash — though that does not mean anybody should treat them as such.

When you read the letter, you have to fill in the blanks with your imagination. Concentrate on what is not said between the lines. Note that the word “complaint” is not even mentioned once.

Certainly, women who have given difficult births would know how 10 minutes waiting for a lumbering nurse would feel like an eternity.

You also have to imagine the physical toll, the length of time, and the expense borne by the father walking from his settlement to the clinic, and moving his baby from the clinic to Marudi.

Rainforest activist Bruno Manser (left) (© Bruno-Manser-Fonds)I had some misgivings about reproducing the letter here. The many Little Napoleons working in the God-forsaken mountains and forests of Sarawak might want to victimise the couple for causing trouble because of my action. Nobody can hear you cry if you die there in the jungle. I wonder if that is what happened to the rainforest activist Bruno Manser, who was last seen journeying to the Sarawak rainforests in May 2000, and was officially declared missing in March 2005.

Then again, we tend to use high-sounding words in discussing the suffering of the dispossessed, the disenfranchised, and the marginalised among us. Readers could get slogan fatigue.

Though no names are provided, perhaps this letter can give human suffering a personality, a face, a wife, alongside a dead baby who did not have to die. If only I had a photograph of the man with his wife and child! But in their part of the world, a camera might not be a household item.

I was also worried that the original letter may not have been received by Suhakam or the Health Minister (one never knows with Pos Malaysia). When this letter is published by The Nut Graph, perhaps somebody will forward it to these intended recipients.

The death of a Penan baby in the Sarawak rainforest may be no big deal to the rest of the world. But it must have felt like the end of the world for the grieving parents. After all, they are human, too, just like you and me.

A Penan family (© Tom Taylor @ Flickr)

Why they need to be treated this way?Arent they are Human Being like you and me?Or they are just a Monkey from the jungle?Where is the Humanity?The State Government will still denied those Mistreatment of the Penan’s?Is it all of this is just Lies?

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