Monday, 26 October 2009

Murum Penans under threat

Published: Monday October 26, 2009


BELAGA: Many Penan families living in the Belaga district of central Sarawak have been affected by the clearing of jungles for the construction of the RM3bil Murum Dam.

The jungles being cleared for the dam, located 70km inland from the Bakun Dam, have a large population of Penans, many of whom have lived in isolation from the outside world for centuries.

The clearing of the jungles has affected their food supply and they have been forced to migrate in search of food.

Catholic priest for the Belaga parish, Sylvester Ding, recently came across a group of semi-nomadic Penans who had wandered out of Murum while searching for food.

“A community made up of some 20 Penan families from Murum have now moved out from the dam area because they are short of food. We found them wandering near the Bakun resettlement site in Sungai Asap.

“They are now taking temporary shelter in a long-house,” said Ding.

He added there might be more needy Penans who would be forced to migrate once the dam construction was in full-swing.

He hoped the Government would look into the plight of the Murum Penans. There are some 1,800 Penans living in eight long-houses along the Murum River who will have to make way for the construction of the dam.

The Star found that the access road into the Murum Dam site has already been paved. The construction of the site office is in progress and the terracing of the hillslopes on both sides of the Murum River is being carried out.