KUALA LUMPUR, 25 June 2009: The women’s wing of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) wants the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry to not only release the Penan task force report to the public, but to also table it for debate in Parliament.
“What is stopping the Malaysian government from publicising the report of the investigation? The repeated delays lend to the perception that the government has something to hide,” said PKR Wanita chief Zuraida Kamaruddin at a press conference in parliament today.
Zuraida Zuraida was commenting on the fact that the Penan task force report was still not available to the public.
Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil has so far not committed to making the report public, only saying that interested parties could go to the ministry to view the report.
“We feel this is not enough. The public has a right to know,” Zuraida said.
The Penan task force was commissioned by former minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen in October 2008. It was despatched to investigate claims that logging company employees were sexually abusing and raping young Penan girls and women.
After almost six months without word, Shahrizat finally revealed the ministry’s plans for the report, telling The Nut Graph that she would submit it to cabinet on 27 May.
Zuraida said she had written to Shahrizat on 23 June 2009, asking for a copy of the report but has not had any reply since.
“The government’s silence on this issue may result in the social collapse of the Penan people,” Zuraida warned.
“Malaysia is a signatory of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (Cedaw) and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We should be concerned and progressive in ensuring the safety and rights of every indigenous minority,” Zuraida added.
The terror of government silence