Don’t deride any race, says Taib
KUCHING, May 16 — Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud today advised non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and individuals not to make negative remarks about any race in the country unless it was necessary for a special purpose.
This followed a recent report in a Malay tabloid alleging the Penans in Tinjar, Ulu Baram were practising incest.
Taib (picture) said there was no point in talking or writing about any group in the country in such a disrespectful manner, which would only create ill-feelings and disharmony between the various ethnic communities.
“I think the best thing is not to make any remark that is not good about any community. If you have something good, you say it but if you don’t, you just keep quiet... that is my advice.”
He said this to reporters after launching two books — “The Lanjak Entimau Story; Changing Landscape In Biodiversity Conservation” and “Birds of Bario and the Kelabit Highlands” — published by the Sarawak Forestry Department in collaboration with the International Tropical Timber Organisation.
In its May 13 edition, the peninsular-based Harian Metro also suggested in the article titled “Ibuku isteriku, bapaku suamiku” that incestuous marriages were one of the reasons the Penans found it difficult to obtain MyKad and other forms of official documentation.
The tabloid claimed that its investigation and research found that around 15 families in the Ulu Baram area lived a nomadic life although a longhouse had been provided for them, and some had married blood relatives.
The report has caused an outcry from various quarters, including Penan paramount chief Temengong Datuk Hasan Sui who demanded that the tabloid apologise to the people and the state, especially the Penans, for claiming incest was accepted by the Penan community.
Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Alfred Jabu, who said it was only a game of certain NGOs to manipulate the Penans, also called for a full investigation into the report.
State Rural Development Minister Tan Sri Dr James Masing said the allegation was serious and sensitive and hoped the journalist concerned would be prepared to substantiate his report.
Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Office (Native Adat and Penan Affairs) Datuk John Sikie Tayai Sikie said the division would be roped in to investigate the matter.
It is estimated that there are some 16,000 Penans in Belaga alone. — Bernama