Independence gone with the trees

K Kabilan

Modified 26 Nov 2009, 4:22 pm

For an outsider, the Penans are an unknown enigma. For the government, they are the blind spot that can be conveniently missed; and for the logging concessionaires and plantation kingpins, they are pure nuisance.

However for those who know them, they are shy, genial and sensible people with a ready smile and plenty of love for the forest they call their home.

They have been in the news recently after a government fact-finding mission confirmed that Penan women were victims of sexual offences, including rape, perpetrated by employees of logging companies.

However their sorry plight should not have been in the highlight over these sexual incidents alone. There are many other issues which concern the Penans which the government should put right, failing which would only render Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak's 1Malaysia concept to be utterly rhetoric in nature.

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