KUCHING, June 21: Minister of Housing and Local Government Zuraida Kamaruddin today appealed to Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg to look into the plight of the Penans in the state, particularly those Penan girls who were allegedly raped by logging workers in 2007.
She said it seemed the perpetrators had not been brought to justice yet.
“I raised this case to him (Abang Johari), urging him to look into this case and take action against the perpetrators. He did acknowledge this because they (government) recognised the fact that now the Penans have improved, compared to some 10 or 11 years ago.
“Things have improved, according to him (Abang Johari). They have schools, with some going to universities, and the community is better taken care of now,” said Zuraida, who is also Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Women chief, to reporters this afternoon. She had earlier paid a courtesy call on the chief minister.
Zuraida claimed she had the names of those responsible for raping the Penan girls and had brought it to the attention of Abang Johari. However, she did not reveal the names to the reporters.
“We have the names of the perpetrators, so we asked Abang Johari to look into it more seriously this time. He did mention the Penan’s very peculiar lifestyles.
“He showed his commitment, just that I have to sit down with him again or his people taking charge of this to see what further action we can take.”
Zuraida had been very vocal in raising this issue back when Barisan Nasional (BN) was the ruling government. It was because of this, it was claimed, that she was banned from entering Sarawak. She was denied entry twice in 2014 and again on January 29, 2016.
She was last refused entry when she arrived at Miri Airport on Sept 23 last year. Last month, the state government lifted the entry ban on PH leaders who had been appointed federal ministers.
Another issue Zuraida brought up with Abang Johari concerned MyKad and birth certificates among rural folk. She said this had been an issue among the rural folk of Sarawak for a long time.
“I proposed to Abang Johari to have a special task force to go mobile to provide facilities for the rural folk to register to have MyKad or birth certificates.
“Of course this is supposed to fall on the Ministry of Home Affairs, but it has to be supported by the state government.”
Zuraida said when PKR was in the opposition, they did raise this issue, but it fell on deaf ears.
“Now that we, Pakatan Harapan (PH), are the federal government, we will talk to our new Minister of Home Affairs, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, on this matter.
“These rural people want to go to school and pursue higher learning but they cannot because they do not have MyKad or birth certificates,” lamented Zuraida.
Also present during the meeting with Abang Johari was Minister of Local Government and Housing Dr Sim Kui Hian. — DayakDaily