Jabu refuses to meet Women’s Representatives
By Rosita Maja
The Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister and Minsiter in charge of Penan affiars, Alfred Jabu anak Nmpang, has refused to accept a memorandum concerning the plight of Penan girls and women, who had reportedly suffered sexual abuse by logging company workers.
The memorandum was from the national(PKR) Wanita, or Women’s Chief, Hajjah Zuraidah Kamaruddin.
Hajjah Zuraidah Kamaruddin, the Member of Parliament for Ampang, traveled to Kuching to visit Sarawak state leaders and .
She expressed the serious concern by the Keadilan Women’s Wing over the rape and sexual abuse of Penan girls and women in Sarawak, as revealed by the national Ministerial Task Force Report, released almost three weeks ago by the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development.
On September 25, a delegation of Keadilan women’s leaders, led by Zuraidah, went to Jabu, the Chairman of the State Cabinet Committee on Penan Affairs.to present the memorandum to
The delegation arrived at the entrance to Wisma Bapa Malaysia at half past nine in the morning. The delegates said they were trying to seek justice for Penan women who had been found to have suffered sexual abuse.
However, the delegates were refused entry into the premises by security guards, who closed and locked the gate to the building.
A security guard said he had instructions from Jabu’s office to pass a letter to the PKR Women’s delegation. Jabu’s letter stated that he would not meet the delegates as he “had prior appointments”. In his letter, Jabu advised the PKR Women’s delegation to turn to the police for enquiries and advice on the rape issue and other crimes.
One of the security guards even shouted “Bawa balai polis saja (just take it to the police station)!” in an apparent attempt to intimidate the group of PKR women.
Zuraidah then contacted Jabu’s office by telephone, asking a member of Jabu’s staff to come down to the main gate to accept the memorandum on Jabu’s behalf. According to Zuraida, an unidentified staff member answered her rudely, saying, “I don’t want to be involved in your squabbles!”
Zuraidah Kamaruddin and her delegation strongly condemned the lack of courtesy and unbecoming behaviour of Jabu’s office.
Later, the delegates visited the office of Sarawak Minister for Social Development and Urbanisation, William Mawan anak Ikom. On this occasion, the Minister’s secretary accepted the memorandum with courtesy, although Mawan did not meet the delegation himself.
The delegation held a brief discussion at the Sarawak Women’s Bureau with the Bureau’s Assistant Director, Herlina Ajaib Jamahari. Herlina said that Women’s Bureau would produce proposals shortly to help the Penan girls and women, and submit them to Jabu’s Ministry.
Zuraidah Kamaruddin handed Herlina a copy of the memorandum and told Herlina that Zuraida will continue to urge the Federal Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development to do more for the Penan survivors of sexual crimes.
The delegation then delivered a copy of the same memorandum to the Sarawak Education Department. A senior officer in the Department was filling in for the State Director of Education, who was still on leave for Hari Raya.
The senior officer, who requested not to be named, accepted the memorandum on the State Director’s behalf. He said the department had summoned the Headmasters of the schools in the area where the sexual abuse of Penan girls was reported, for a meeting on the issue. He promised that his Department would do its part to examine the problem and look for solutions.
The delegation suggested to the senior officer that the Education Department should arrange for the schools to set up Penan “Parents and Teachers”Liaison Committees. Such committees, the delegates pointed out, would allow the schools to identify and address the challenges faced by the deprived community – for example, to improve transportation arrangements for poor Penan students.
Zuraidah and her delegation pledged to continue to press the Federal and State governments to honour the recommendations set out in PKR Wanita’s memorandum on the plight of the Penan girls and women.
Although the women’s delegates were greeted with harrassment and insults from Jabu’s office, they expressed satisfaction that the memorandum had been delivered to other relevant departments.
The delegates said they were also encouraged by the initial positive reception, by some departments, to PKR’s urgent call to put an end to the sexual abuse suffered by the Penan girls and women in Sarawak