KUCHING: The government will alienate some 24,000 hectares of land in upper Murum for the Penans, revealed Land Development Minister Dato Sri Dr James Jemut Masing.
He said the land would be alienated for the Penans even after the Murum hydroelectric power (HEP) Dam is completed.
Masing added that the government would not allocate the land for the Penan reservation as the concept has been proven a failure in the developed countries.
“In the long run we want them to change. Now, most of the Penan children wear Levi’s Jeans and dye their hair. Do you think they will follow their fathers’ footstep?
“No, but we have to give them time to change. So the next 25 years is critical for them,” Masing told reporters at his residence here yesterday.
He said currently, there are some 1,000 Penans living in the Upper Murum Dam project area.
“Currently there is a legal logging activity in the area. So we hope the enforcement agencies will keep their eyes open so that the loggers will not over harvest the timbers but cut the trees based on ‘selected logging’,” said Masing.
In a related issue, he admitted that the government had made mistakes in the past and that it was in the process of rectifying the issue especially in the implementation of the Bakun Dam project.
“I don’t want to lie to the foreigners as they can always ‘google’ the area and see for themselves.
“And also we cannot afford to make mistakes anymore as we will seek foreign investors for both our future projects such as land development and for Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE),” he added.
Masing admitted that he felt bad as if he was lying to some NGOs while in London recently.
“Actually I did not realise the actual fact,” he said.
As such, Masing said the relevant government agencies would have to plant both commercial timber as well as hybrid sago for the Penans when the logging activities cease in future.
“As the Penans are known for being good weavers, rattan should also be replanted.
“The concept that we must maintain is for the environment to remain pristine at the upper Murum Dam to prevent silting,” he added.
Source : BorneoPost Online