Borneo Post Online
by Philip Kiew. Posted on February 13, 2012, Monday
MIRI: The Penan community from 11 settlements around Sungai Adang, in the interior of Limbang, can now cross this river without fear of being swept away by the swift-flowing currents following completion of a suspension bridge by the Sarawak Forest Department.
The project, costing RM180,000, was built in collaboration with International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO) and Samling Timber Sdn Bhd, as part of the department’s outreach programme in fulfilling its social obligations.
Work on this 77-metre link across Adang River was completed last Nov in 35 days.
The Penan can now use the bridge to go to school or to the market to sell their farm or jungle produce in Lawas and Limbang.
Second Minister of Resource Planning and Environment Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hassan was on hand to perform a simple opening ceremony recently, and the event was attended by members of the Penan community and representatives from ITTO and Sarawak Forest Department.
Awang Tengah later flew to Lepo Bunga to declare open the Forest Research Station-cum-Visitors Information Centre at Mount Murud – the state’s highest mountain.
Located 5,500 feet above sea level, construction of this centre was a challenging task due to the logistics nightmare and inclement weather.
It was built by Samling in collaboration with Sarawak Forest Department as part of efforts to promote the conservation of bio-diversity and eco-tourism.
In his short speech at Pa Adang, Awang Tengah advised Penan parents to ensure that their children’s education are given top priority to enable the community to progress and enjoy the fruits of development like the other communities.
“We take it very seriously that they are not marginalised or sidelined from the mainstream of development. It would be very sad for the government if any community is left behind.
“The Penan must also progress like the rest and not be left alone to become museum pieces to be gawked … as wished by outsiders and detractors.”
Awang Tengah noted that a growing number of Penan were now successful in business, in the agricultural sector, or working as civil servants. Quite a number of them were now Master degree holders.
“But for the entire community to forward will take time and the government is aware of this.”
He commended Pastor Yahya from Long Luping, for helping to guide his Penan community in Sungai Adang, adding that for changes to happen there need to be determination, commitment and education.
Awang Tengah also said the government placed top priority in bio-diversity conservation, as reflected in the targeted one million hectares of Totally Protected Areas (TPAs) out of the 12 million hectares of land mass in the state.
“TPAs mean it is totally protected and no logging or other commercial activities are allowed.”
The government, he revealed, had also initiated steps to include Batu Lawi and more areas under the Pulong Tau National Park under TPA.
The Lepo Bunga station-cum-visitors information centre also reflected the government’s effort to promote the conservation of flora and fauna and boost eco-tourism.