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Borneo, Sarawak, Sarawakian

Sarawak’s Penan community fights back!

THE Penan community of Long Seridan has finally voiced out its dissatisfaction.

Aha, say the foreign NGOs who have been ‘championing’ Penan rights. Finally the community speaks out.

That’s right! The community has spoken and its members want to know what these so-called ‘champions’ have actually done to develop the community.

What have they actually done to bring education and development to the people? What money have they actually channelled to the community over the years?

Well community leader Ziki Wea has pointed out that the people believed various funds and foundations had been set up by these local and foreign groups in the name of the Penan community.

“I believe these people have raised a big amount of money which is supposed to be for our benefit. But until today, we have not seen a single dime. Where has all the money supposedly meant for us gone to?” he is quoted as stating.

He stressed that his community has never received any aid from these so-called champions of their cause.

“They want to portray us as still nomadic in order to tug at the heart strings of their target audience.

“But all these years, the only quarters which has been helping us is the government, and not them! What have they given us? Nothing, only negative publicity!” said Ziki.

In case you missed it — only the government has given the Penan community any help over the years!

He added that all the Penan community has ever wanted is the progress and development enjoyed by all the other races in Sarawak.

However, he admitted that many in the community still did not prioritise education.

“Most of them are still backward in their thinking, especially when it comes to education. Most parents want their children to be with them all the time.

“When their children are at school, they (parents) would call them back to the kampung or jungle during the fruit seasons. This is the biggest obstacle.”

Perhaps this is what the so-called ‘champions’ are banking on. They seem to want nothing more than to keep education far away from the Penan community so that they do not realise they have a choice to live a different life.

Ziki said one of the best ways to get the community to see reality is to show and enable them to experience the success of other Penan families.

“As for my family, I am trying to set a good example by sending my kids to schools. One of my children is now in the final year of a diploma programme in Penang.

“I hope that his success will spur my community to see the benefit of education, and get them onto the path of progress.”

All the best to Ziki and his family and kudos to him for giving a voice to the community, which is often ‘spoken for’ by others who claim to know ‘better’!

The report from The Borneo Post:

A bunch of liars!

By Anthony Joseph

MIRI: Zero. Nil. Zilch. That’s how much the Penan community in Long Seridan has received from the so-called local and foreign human rights groups who have been going around for years soliciting funds internationally supposedly to “fight the Penan cause”.

This has frustrated the Penan in the interior of Baram, and they have awoken to the fact that they had been misled and exploited all these years.

Their community leader Ziki Wea told The Borneo Post that they believed various funds and foundations had been set up by these local and foreign instigators in the name of the Penan community.

“I believe these people have raised big amount of money which are supposed to be for our (Penan) benefit. But until today, we have not seen a single dime. Where have all the money supposedly meant for us gone to?”

Ziki said his people started becoming a showpiece many years ago after these so-called human rights groups alleged that they had been marginalised and neglected by the government.

On that premise, these groups claimed that they should champion the community’s right to have equal share of the nation’s development and progress.

They then went around the globe highlighting the Penan’s plight in order to solicit for money.

“On the local front, they raise interest among the international audience by instigating us to go against the government, such as setting up blockades.

“They want to portray us as still nomadic in order to tug the heart strings of their target audience.

“But all these years, the only quarter which has been helping us is the government, and not them! What have they given us? Nothing, only negative publicity!”  Ziki said all his community ever wanted was progress and development like those enjoyed by all the other races.

But he admitted that to hasten the pace of change, his community must change their mindset.

“Changing their mindset and perception will take time. First and foremost, they must realise that education is the key to change.”

Ziki said the old ways of thinking have to go.

“Most of them are still backward in their thinking, especially when it comes to education. Most parents want their children to be with them all the time. When their children are at school, they (parents) would call them back to the kampung or jungle during the fruit seasons. This is the biggest obstacle that we have to surmount.”

He said one of the best ways to get them to see reality is to get them to see and feel the success of other Penan families.

“As for my family, I am trying to set a good example by sending my kids to schools. One of my children is now in the final year of a diploma programme in Penang. I hope that his success will spur my community to see the benefit of education, and get them onto the path of progress.”

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