by Augustine Anthony
Time and again I have said that our country is a land of milk and honey but we now suffer a well entrenched system of governance that betrays its own people.
The news report in Utusan Online under caption “Lebih 3,000 Penan kebuluran” is one by product of a system failure.
Malaysia is seen on many occasions as a generous contributor whenever there are calamities around the world. Some of the aids that are despatched are laudably swift, perhaps within days or weeks of such calamities.
Of course we welcome such generosity of Malaysia. But what about our own backyard?
It is reported that more than 3,000 Penan natives from 5 settlements numbering about 264 families are in starvation for the last three months.
What is even more disturbing is the fact that the Deputy Minister of Rural and Regional Development in announcing the plight of the Penan natives had even revealed that some of the natives had resorted to eating wild plants.
It is also reported that the cause of the starvation is the destruction of the natives’ padi plantations by wild monkeys.
Read more here.
This revelation beckons many disturbing questions.
- How is it that more than 3,000 natives in settlements endure starvation for the last three months without being noticed by a long chain of government officers from various departments including the health authorities?
- What were the Rural and Regional Development Ministry officers doing all this while?
- Why blame the monkeys for such starvation? Are the monkeys convenient scapegoats for the indiscriminate destruction of forests in Sarawak by those who are in the logging businesses and those who earn a living by destroying the forests?
- What is happening to the land including the forests around these settlements that had resulted in a great numbers of monkeys suddenly destroying the padi cultivation?
- Why the sudden mass movement of monkeys in search of food in these areas?
Of course now attempts are made to channel food supplies and other needed items to the affected natives but it must not stop there. We need to find out what is the real reason for this tragic unfolding of event.
Those responsible for this reckless omission to care for the need of the starving people and those who brought about this disaster unto the Penan natives must be severely dealt with.
It is only then people will have some sense of assurance that the system of governance is improving for the sake of people’s well being.
Another test for our Prime Minister’s slogan “People First, Performance Now”