“The reports are all wrong, because the Penans are still there at the blockade sites,” said Raymond Abin, national coordinator of Sarawak Conservation for Natural Environment (SCANE).
“I have just returned from the blockade sites,” he told FMT.
According to Abin, the Penan representatives met with Liwan Lagang, Assistant Minister of Culture and Heritage in Bintulu last week who promised them that each of the eight villages involved in the blockade would receive RM6,000 if they dismantled the blockade.
Lagang, who is also the Belaga state assemblyman, said that he would advance them with RM1,000 so that they could go to Kuching to discuss with the government their demands.
The demands include compensation of RM500,000 for each family for the loss of their native customary rights land and 25 hectares of land for each of the families for farming activities and 300,000 hectares for their ‘pemakai menua’ (territorial domain).
In Kuching they were supposed to receive the RM6,000.
Abin said that the headmen told him that they did not believe that Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud would take them seriously.
Instead of the headmen going to Kuching, they sent their young representatives.
“When the Penan representatives went to Kuching, Lagang would have thought the blockades would have been dismantled.
“Here he was wrong when he told the press that the blockades had been dismantled,” he said.
Negotiations in deadlock
It is understood that the Penan representatives would go to Kuala Lumpur to meet with the federal leaders regarding their demands.
The blockade was carried out on Sept 26 when the government failed to inform them of their future well-being and their demands.
Last Thursday, the Penans put up another blockade at another road to the dam site.
The blockades were mounted by the Penans from the villages of Long Wat, Long Luar, Long Tangau, Long Menapa, Long Singu and Long Malim, Long Peran and Long Jaik villages together with a Kenyah-Badeng village of Long Umpa.
The blockades have paralysed work on the dam as scores of trucks and lorries loaded with building materials have been stranded.
The Sarawak government has awarded the contract works of the Murum Dam project to China’s Three Gorges Project Corporation at an estimated cost of RM3 billion.
The progress of the construction work on the major structures of the dam is about 70% complete. When completed the Murum Dam will flood about 24,500 hectares of native customary rights land and forest.
The dam catchment area is 275,000 hectares which comprise mainly Pelieran, Danum and Usun Apau Plateau, the ancestral land of the indigenous communities in Sarawak.
The Murum Dam project is scheduled to be ready by 2013