Deputy Chief Minister, Alfred Jabu Numpang, of the Malaysian state of Sarawak, has criticised blogger, Joseph Tawie for a posting on the latter's blog. Freelance writer and blogger Tawie accused Sarawak state leaders of suppressing allegations of sexual abuse of Penan women in his blog, The Broken Shield.
A blog post urged the state authorities to probe the allegations of sexual abuse of Penan womenfolk, located in Sarawak’s Baram region. According to news reports, unidentified cabinet ministers present confirmed Jabu displeasure with Tawie. Jabu also had directed his anger at a journalist of a national newspaper.
Tawie's posting, headlined ‘Penan rape cases: Let the truth prevails’, highlighted allegations that employees from timber companies, Samling and Interhill, had been abusing Penan women sexually. Allegedly, these employees have been committing the acts for almost a decade.
The Penan are a tribal community living deep in the forests of Northern Borneo. Aside from the sexual acts alleged against the logging company staff, the Penans are also upset that the forest they live in is being destroyed by logging, so much so that the tribe has staged a blockade against Interhill to stop them from getting into the forest (click here to read more).
Tawie said that the task force from the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry to look into the plight of the Penan schoolgirls as a result of rapes and abuse allegedly perpetrated by timber workers is timely.
Timely, because state leaders in particular (Chief Minister) Abdul Taib Mahmud, (Deputy Chief Minister) George Chan and (Deputy Chief Minister) Alfred Jabu have not only accused newspapers of deliberately publishing false news, but have also accused them as saboteurs. ‘Saboteurs’ is a very strong word indeed.
He said, “If there are some truth, then the truth will have an embarrassing effect on our (state) government leaders.”
Tawie's blog is currently still up and running, although no word has been released on what action, if any, the authorities will take against him.