By Joseph Tawie
KUCHING: Where has the RM1.2 million allocated by the Sarawak government to ferry Penan students from their respective villages in Baram gone?
Posing the question, State PKR vice-president Voon Shiak Ni said the schools had not received any money from the allocation which dated back to 2008.
The fund was said to have been given to the resident’s and district office for distribution to the schools in the Baram district.
“Where is the money? What has happened to the funds?
“We have been told by principals and teachers of the schools in Baram that they have asked for the fund since it was announced in 2008.
“Only one of the schools has received the money, but many others have not received it, even though the schools are located right in the Penan area,” Voon said.
She said that some schools were not even aware that the government had allocated funds to transport the children from their villages to neighbouring schools.
Voon was responding to remarks made by Deputy Chief Minister Alfred Jabu during his winding-up speech at the State Legislative Assembly recently.
Replying to questions by PKR Batu Lintang assemblyman, See Chee How, Jabu said that since 2008 the state government had spent RM1.2 million to provide transport to Penan students in Marudi, Belaga and Limbang districts.
“This facility has benefited 5,084 Penan primary and secondary school students from 61 villages,” Jabu said.
He also told the state assembly that the state and the federal governments were working closely to implement “pertinent recommendations” in a report compiled by the national-level action committee investigating sexual harassment of Penan women.
But Voon, however, felt that there was little truth in Jabu’s statement.
She said the PKR women were deeply disappointed with Jabu’s reply, especially since he was in charge of Penan affairs.
“There is no consistency and transparency in the distribution of the fund.
“So far our sources tell us the government has not implemented any of the recommendations,” she said.
She urged Jabu to explain in detail the government’s plans on how it will implement the “pertinent recommendations”.
Voon also ticked off Telang Usan BN assemblyman Dennis Ngau for his ignorant remarks about the opposition’s contribution to improve the lot of the Penan community.
“Let’s enlighten Ngau. The PKR state governments (in Selangor and Penang) had contributed funds to the Penan support group for the purchase of a four-wheel drive vehicle to ferry students to schools with an assigned driver and also for emergency cases.
“The opposition leaders have worked together with this group to look for funds… Ngau will find that some NGOs had set up pre-schools in some of the Penan villages, which are now in operation.
“If the NGOs can be attentive to the needs of the Penan, why can’t the state government?” – FMT