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Penans yet to enjoy subsidised fuel

MIRI, 10 Nov 2009: The price of petrol Penans in the remote settlement of Long Lamai in the Baram district have to pay is RM3 per litre, Long Lamai Penan chief Wilson Bian said.

He said his people have yet to enjoy the subsidised price for the fuel even though the government had announced it almost a year ago.

“We have been told by the Baram district office in Marudi to apply for it, and we did so by filling up a form … but until now we have yet to get it,” he said when met at Long Lamai recently.

He said they obtained their fuel supply from Long Banga, another settlement located some two hours by boat from Long Lamai, where the petrol is sold at RM18 per gallon (about four litres).

He said when the oil price was high about a year back, petrol in the area was sold for as high as RM5 per litre. This was a burden because most of them made their living through small-scale farming and river fishing. 

Long Lamai is the most remote Penan settlement in the Baram district, with about 500 settlers, and has yet to enjoy electricity supply.

To reach the settlement, which is located close to the border with the Indonesian territory of Kalimantan, one has to travel through timber tracks for about 10 hours from the city here, and endure an hour’s boat ride through rapids.

Wilson said only those who worked with timber companies in the village could afford generator sets, but they, too, were not spared the high fuel price.

“We appeal to the authorities concerned to understand our predicament and to do something to end our woes,” he added. — Bernama

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