My land, my rules: Penans from Data Bila demand even the King to ask permission before visiting Tekiwit Waterfall

Daud Sedin of Data Bila Village in Ulu Baram.

By Ling Hui

MIRI, March 17: ‘Nobody can simply enter our land without permission,’ says Daud Sedin, son to the village chief Sedin Laeng of Data Bila, a Penan village situated deep in the interior of Baram.

He asserted that even the ‘Agong’ (the King) would have to talk to their leader before visiting Tekiwit Waterfall, a rising tourism attraction in Ulu Baram, which the local Penans are claiming their right to.


This enforcement followed a dire event in which outsiders disrespected the Penan by trespassing on their land to visit Tekiwit. They ended up destroying the water pipes on the way, disrupting the water supply to nearby villages for almost a month.

“Usually, when we want to visit somewhere, we go to the village first and ask to see the village chief to request permission. That’s the right way to do it.

“But no, they drove straight up and destroyed our water pipes. They claimed to be important people, but I don’t care.

“Even if you’re the Agong, the rule is the rule, and you have to follow it. You have to respect the village,” said Daud when he was met by DayakDaily at Data Bila Village yesterday (March 16).

He said there was another incident where visitors went up to Tekiwit Waterfall without informing the village, and one of them got stung by yellow wasps.

“After that, they came down screaming at us, blaming us for not telling them about the wasp nest, but they were the ones who did not inform us in the first place,” he recalled.

A stack of rocks in front of the Tekiwit Waterfall in Ulu Sela’an, Baram.

To witness the beauty of Tekiwit Waterfall, one must first contact Daud (012-886 8053/ 011-2512 8665), Philip Sedin (016-931 5980/ 012-856 2140), Jeli (012-885 9109), or Joseph Sedin (014-205 8070) to make bookings.

Bear in mind that only the Penan from Data Bila Village are allowed to become your guides, and each guide, professionally tending to only two visitors, costs RM80.

Other than that, visitors must also pay RM30 per person as head tax to enter the land.

The Tekiwit Waterfall is closed on Sundays because Sundays are sabbatical for the Penan people, and they do not carry out any activities related to work on those days.

According to Daud, it is recommended that visitors stay overnight at Data Bila Village before trekking to the waterfall in the morning when the weather is cool.

He also said there are no specific taboos connected to the waterfall, but visitors are urged not to litter or take any jungle produce from the area.

Tourists are also urged to carefully read through the rules and regulations on the signboard set up at the junction to Data Bila Village before entering. — DayakDaily

Rules and regulations for visiting Tekiwit Waterfall.