Thursday October 30, 2008 The StarOnline, Malaysia
Set up forest reserves for Penans, Government urged
A SARAWAK MP has proposed that the Government allocate special forest reserves with sufficient natural resources for the Penans to continue with their lifestyle.
Billy Abit Joo (BN – Hulu Rajang) said the special forest reserves with sufficient natural resources would help them survive and at the same time, also introduce them to the modern world.
“One should not drag them out of the forest to lead a modern life. Such change will be too drastic for them,” Billy said when debating the Budget.
He said there were about 10,000 Penans, including 3,500 to 5,000 still living the “traditional” way.
Billy said human activities such as logging had disrupted their lives in the forest.
The main problem faced by the community, he said, was that most of them did not have birth certificates and identity cards.
“Many of them live and die in the forest. To them, they do not need identity cards,” he said.
Billy also called on the Government to develop tourism in the Sarawak inland.