By Peter Sibon
KUCHING, March 22: The plight of 353 Penan families at Tegulang and Metalun resettlement schemes has been resolved.
The Sarawak government will continue to provide them with monthly ration and cash amounting to RM750 per family as promised until their land for commercial crops have been developed and able to produce a yield to sustain their living.
According to Murum assemblyman Kennedy Chukpai Ugon, he had briefed the State Cabinet Committee on the need for the scheme to be continued as promised.
Among others, despite being resettled at the two areas, the Penan community there had not yet been allocated promised land for agriculture purposes due to some disputes with host communities around the area.
Kennedy hoped the state government could solve the land disputes amicably after the time lapse of five years to enable the Penans to start using their land. No commercial crops such as pepper, rubber and palm oil have been cultivated as the Penans still don’t have the land promised to them.
“Because of that, I briefed the Cabinet Committee on the need to continue to provide the monthly assistance of RM750 per family for these Penan community in both Metalun and Tegulang resettlement schemes
“The request was duly approved, and the allocation of RM3.177 million is now with the Welfare Department. So, the issue is resolved,” Kennedy said when contacted.
He was commenting on the plight of the Penans in both resettlement schemes that was raised by the Murum Penan Development Committee (MPDC) chairman Labang Paneh, who told DayakDaily today, that his community had not received the monthly aid since the beginning of this year.
They were resettled in the two areas following the completion of the 900MW Murum Hydroelectric Power (HEP) Dam five years ago
“Without government assistance, I don’t think our people will have enough food on the table as most of them are now unemployed. Only a few are employed in the companies operating in the area. Currently, most of them continue their livelihood as hunters and food gatherers,” disclosed Labang. — DayakDaily.