Mulu Penans bring their case against plantation to Europe

MIRI: Swiss environmental-activist group Bruno Manser Foundation has brought a group of Penans from Mulu National Park to Europe to stage public demonstrations.

The demos are aimed at highlighting the plights of the Mulu natives against a big oil palm plantation project being developed adjacent to the national park in northern Sarawak.

The Bruno Manser Foundation (BMF) told The Star that the delegation of Penans are already in London.

Two Mulu Penan leaders, Ukau Lupung and Komeok Joe, are leading the delegation.

“We are sponsoring the Penans’ trip to Europe.

“We want to help the Penans highlight their pleas to stop the oil palm project expansion in Mulu that will destroy the environment there.

“In London, a peaceful demonstration was staged outside the Malaysian embassy.

“On Tuesday (May 7), we will bring the Penans to meet European Union leaders in Brussels. After that we will bring them to Paris to meet officials from Unesco (the United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Organisation).

“We will then go to Geneva to bring the Mulu case to the International Union for Conservation of Nature,” it said on Monday May 6).

Meanwhile, there are dissenting voices in Sarawak against BMF on the issue.

On March 25, a pastor of a local church in Miri lodged a police report against BMF activists for allegedly trespassing into Mulu and sparking human blockades against an oil palm giant.

Pastor Lian Malang, who is living in Miri, lodged a report against the NGO at a police station here in Miri city.

Malang is a native from the Kenyah ethnic group, while the natives in Mulu are from the Penan, Berawan and Tering ethnicities.

Malang told The Star he lodged the police report because they NGO is “causing trouble” in the Mulu area.

Malang said he “represents the community leaders of Mulu who want to see socio-economic development in Mulu”.

“These NGOs do not represent the natives of Mulu. We community leaders represent Mulu people who want to see socio-economic developments that can benefit the people,” he said.

The protests by the Mulu Penans, Berawans and Terings began in early February.

They staged human blockades to stop plantation company workers from clearing the forest adjacent Mulu.

The company has been issued a licence by the Sarawak state authorities to clear some 4,400ha of forests to set up the oil palm estate.

The protesting natives want the plantation workers to leave the Mulu vicinity and remove their heavy machinery.

Mulu National Park is a world heritage site that is home to the largest cave system on the planet.

Located 200km inland from Miri, it is also home to many species of animals and plants found only in Sarawak.