Wednesday, October 16, 2013

THE PENAN: True Sons and Daughters of Mother Earth


The Star | Monday November 3, 2008

Semi-nomadic tribe goes back into jungle after delivering lost surveyors


MIRI: The group of Penans who rescued two surveyors lost in the deep jungles of Long Seridan in remote northern Sarawak have declined any reward for their heroic deed.

The Sarawak police are impressed by not just the bravery and kindness of the semi-nomadic Penans but also their humility.

So too is Ba’Kelalan state assemblyman Nelson Balang Rining, who stressed that the Penans had been at the forefront of many search and rescue missions in the jungles and mountains of Sarawak but had never asked for any reward or publicity.


Surveyors Ismail Salleh, 31, and Rano Sani, 26, went missing on Oct 28 while carrying out demarcation work for a multi-billion ringgit inter-state gas pipeline project between Sabah and Sarawak.

The two men were in a group of 50 surveyors that is handling the task of drawing up a land route to lay the 500km-long gas pipeline from Kimanis near Kota Kinabalu to Bintulu town, the gas capital of Sarawak.

The duo were found in a mountain village on Saturday afternoon following an aerial and ground search mission launched by the police.

They were rescued by a group of Penans, who were out hunting and gathering jungle produce, and escorted to the village.


Baram district police chief Deputy Supt Jonathan Jalin said he had spoken to the group of surveyors via satellite phone from Long Seridan yesterday.

“They are weak, but otherwise unhurt. They confirmed that it was the Penans who saved them, not any of our search parties.

“The group of Penans led them out from the jungle to a settlement after giving them food and water.

“My conversation with them was brief because of connection problems, but the surveyors said the Penans left them in the hands of the villagers and promptly went off into the jungle again.

“We (police) are trying to find out who these Penans are, and which settlement they are from. We must give them due credit,” he said.

Asked if the duo would be brought out for medical treatment, DSP Jalin said that they were still recuperating in the camp and did not seem to be in need of urgent medical help.

Long Seridan is located between Long Lellang and the Bario highlands. It is eight hours by land from here via Long Lama village.

Balang, whose constituency also covers Long Lellang, Bario and the area north of Long Seridan, said the Penans who rescued the duo should be given public recognition.

“It is the Penans’ nature to be helpful and yet shun publicity. They know the jungle like their backyard. They are capable of walking from Long Lellang to Bario non-stop,” he said.

Balang called on the police and the survey firm to try to trace the Penans who saved Ismail and Rano, saying that at the very least, they should be given a banquet.


This story was also featured in Malaysia Today and here are a few comments from readers worth quoting...
written by liko, November 03, 2008 09:31:23:

"Balang called on the police and the survey firm to try to trace the Penans who saved Ismail and Rano, saying that at the very least, they should be given a banquet."

They don't need a banquet, Balang. What they have done are just a noble act of human beings whose hearts are not polluted with greed for power or materialism. They might not have proper educations like us but their act of humanity are higher than most of us who claimed to be highly educated. Not everyone who do good deeds ask for material rewards. Shame on you for implying that the Penans will want to party and be happy with you showing them around the tables, proudly parading them for photographers who will be snapping photos of them as if they are one of those exotic animals. Just leave them alone, respect them, respect their way of life.

----------------------------------------------

written by Kreator, November 03, 2008 09:47:30:

Stop cutting the forest. Stop raping their women. Let them live in peace. That would be the greatest gift to the Penans. Not a banquet!

---------------------------------------------

written by sactyr, November 03, 2008 11:51:35:

The original Bumiputeras of the land, I salute and thank you from the bottom of the heart. And I have strong reasons to believe, had you been in power in this country instead of arrogant self-declared bumiputeras, I am sure we would be doing way better than we are now.

--------------------------------------------------

written by magickriver, November 03, 2008 19:15:23:

Who are the "primitive" folk - the billionaire eco-rapists whose greed is insatiable and whose arrogance knows no bounds and who only ever perform charitable acts when the media are present? The Penans may live simply and in perfect harmony with their forest home but their spiritual qualities are LIGHT YEARS ahead of bureaucrats, businessmen & politicians who behave like human locusts.

I have met some Penans on several occasions and have been deeply impressed by their gentleness and patience. They don't speak unnecessarily, but they are constantly observing and remembering. What they don't know about the outside world, they are far better off not knowing, for it would only burden their souls. The Penans are the closest human species to the mythical elves that you read about - without doubt they are much akin to the Orang Halus and a universe apart from the Orang Kasar who only see MONEY when they look at a forested hill and whose every step lays ruin to Mother Earth and poisons the soil that sustains us.

BRUNO MANSER: Tribute to an Ecowarrior

[First published 3 November 2008]


10 comments:

Michelle said...

Thanks for this post Antares.

For all the things that they say they are grateful to the Penans for, like helping in the search and rescue missions in the forest, they don't realise that there is only one way they can express this gratitude, which the Penans would appreciate.

The Penans just want some respect.

Not some grandious banquet that the organisers would no doubt exploit for their own personal interests.

Knights Templar said...

An Old Story my friend...the PenanS being the Frog and the surveyors that are handling the task of drawing up a land route to lay the 500km-long gas pipeline being the SCORPION .....

The Scorpion and the Frog
One day, a scorpion looked around at the mountain where he lived and decided that he wanted a change. So he set out on a journey through the forests and hills. He climbed over rocks and under vines and kept going until he reached a river.
The river was wide and swift, and the scorpion stopped to reconsider the situation. He couldn't see any way across. So he ran upriver and then checked downriver, all the while thinking that he might have to turn back.

Suddenly, he saw a frog sitting in the rushes by the bank of the stream on the other side of the river. He decided to ask the frog for help getting across the stream.

"Hellooo Mr. Frog!" called the scorpion across the water, "Would you be so kind as to give me a ride on your back across the river?"

"Well now, Mr. Scorpion! How do I know that if I try to help you, you wont try to kill me?" asked the frog hesitantly.

"Because," the scorpion replied, "If I try to kill you, then I would die too, for you see I cannot swim!"

Now this seemed to make sense to the frog. But he asked. "What about when I get close to the bank? You could still try to kill me and get back to the shore!"

"This is true," agreed the scorpion, "But then I wouldn't be able to get to the other side of the river!"

"Alright then...how do I know you wont just wait till we get to the other side and THEN kill me?" said the frog.

"Ahh...," crooned the scorpion, "Because you see, once you've taken me to the other side of this river, I will be so grateful for your help, that it would hardly be fair to reward you with death, now would it?!"

So the frog agreed to take the scorpion across the river. He swam over to the bank and settled himself near the mud to pick up his passenger. The scorpion crawled onto the frog's back, his sharp claws prickling into the frog's soft hide, and the frog slid into the river. The muddy water swirled around them, but the frog stayed near the surface so the scorpion would not drown. He kicked strongly through the first half of the stream, his flippers paddling wildly against the current.

Halfway across the river, the frog suddenly felt a sharp sting in his back and, out of the corner of his eye, saw the scorpion remove his stinger from the frog's back. A deadening numbness began to creep into his limbs.

"You fool!" croaked the frog, "Now we shall both die! Why on earth did you do that?"

The scorpion shrugged, and did a little jig on the drownings frog's back.

"I could not help myself. It is my nature."

Then they both sank into the muddy waters of the swiftly flowing river.

Self destruction - "Its my Nature", said the Scorpion...

Gerald Wee Eng Kian said...

Whoa, I wouldn't go so far as to call 2 lost surveyors as scorpions since their job is to draw up an imaginary line for the maps. This is more like the failure of teamwork and technology in the face of the triumph of skill and nature. I find it amazing that 50 people went into the jungle, paired up for support and was probably outfitted with the very latest in gadgets, and still a few lost their way.

This is a veritable desert island situation with a hostile environment, constant hunger and thirst, not to mention shrinking hope as time passes. Anyone who has some idea what this is like would best describe it as "Hell on Earth". Give those 2 surveyors some credit for toughing it out for nearly a week without quitting.

The Great Spirit rewarded that grace by providing a way out. Honestly, how many people are able to claim that they chose to live after being stripped down to the the barest semblance of what makes up the modern man?

And yet to the Penan and other indigenous tribes, that "Hell" is where they make their livelihood. Anyone able to traverse that environment naturally for days with minimal rest in order to obtain needed resources deserves a great measure of respect. Who knows, that jungle they call home is Paradise in their reality.

Just to add, near death experiences is probably the fastest way to spiritual awakening, wisdom and emphatic consciousness. I pray those 2 receive that after their ordeal. I also believe no one should be dumb enough to gain wisdom in that manner when there are easier and far less dramatic methods available.

eddie rabbit said...

gerald ,i think you fail to see the bigger picture for i dont think knights was refering to the two guys.its the whole corporation i think.

Gerald Wee Eng Kian said...

What is a big picture but a myriad collection of small vignettes? Anyone can choose to damn the corporation that sent those men into the bush for the purpose of raping and pillaging on a later date, how many would draw their attention to the people themselves to see if there is a lesson to be learned?

Scorched earth activism is about as harmful as scorched earth management when it applies a total world view to local environmental issues. A good big picture view is useless if no one takes the trouble to point out and uplift all the good small picture ones.

taiping thomas said...

gerald ..eat shit and die !you one damn stupid intelligent fool!

Gerald Wee Eng Kian said...

Wow thanks for the honour. I've been called many things before, that oxymoron is a first.

The point here is that it is so easy to throw spears at the Big Evil corporation instead of being thankful that the headlines don't read as "Penan's find bodies of missing surveyors" or "Grieving relatives of reclaim deceased surveyors" with no mention of the aborigines at all.

Spend equal energy finding something good and useful out of the situation. Focusing on discovering deplorable conduct in government and corporations is well and good, how about shining that light on honourable behavior as well?

Antares said...

Michelle - I was gratified to read this news in Malaysia Today (I normally don't bother reading The Star or NST). It had a poetic ring to it, what with the Penans rescuing the lost surveyors, escorting them to safety... and then vanishing. Angels of the forest! That's how they would appear to the surveyors, I think. And I'm quite sure these two will find the experience has irrevocably changed the way they look at the world.

Knights Templar - Where's that story from, did you make it up or is it part of Sarawak tribal lore? I haven't befriended any scorpions, nor have I attempted to kiss any frogs (on the off-chance they might transform into a beautiful princesses - or fairytale kings that sound like John Cleese). But it's easy to see why scorpions tend to have a bad rep on account of their venomous stings. Even though the Penans are aware that the presence of surveyors in the forest bodes only ill, their innate sense of compassion towards their fellow men would never allow them to merely shrug and walk away. Same with dolphins who have been reported to help humans, despite the fact that some humans don't deserve to be saved. This places dolphins and Penans closer to their own Divine Nature than urbanized industrial humans who often become cynical and self-serving just to survive in the Concrete Zoo. There are no laws in the jungle - but in the concrete zoo, self-interest rules.

Gerald - Excellent point you make, and that's exactly what I hope will be the long-term effect on Ismail and Rano of being rescued by the Penans - that it will be a turning point in their spiritual evolution.

Eddie Rabbit - You've put your finger on an intriguing phenomenon here: as individuals, most humans generally have noble traits and redeeming features; but when they form themselves into committees, corporations and governments, they tend to become debased because they are no longer personally accountable for their actions, and can hide behind the mask of corporate facelessness.

Taiping Thomas - Got up on the wrong side of bed or what? Why are you hurling insults at Gerald? If you have a problem with his opinions, share it with us in an articulate manner instead of charging at him like a berserker and whacking him one with your sausage. You deserve an enema for that unwarranted outburst - though I must admit it was rather amusing ;-)

DR.SARAVANAN R said...

Gerald,
while i agree with your arguments that an ideal for all is best, i beg to differ on your big picture-small picture analogy.
If the argument is about scotch earth method being environmentally harmfull and thus not tenable against the similarly harmfull scotch earth mgmt, then eating beef and drinking cow's milk should be prohibited and we should start culling all the cows in the world as studies show that cows produce huge amounts environmentally damaging gases. (small picture = loss of livelyhood of people who rear cows for a living and all related industries; big picture = saving mother earth). One should not play god and judge what should be important and unimportant to a person or a community as people's beliefs and priorities differ.
At this juncture, the environment has to take the back seat temporarily as the argument here is regarding basic human rights. The Penans are being robbed of their lives and dignity under our very noses. It remains an undisputed fact that the Penans are being short changed by the very government that promised to take care of them. This government in turn returns the favor to the penans by letting these unethical corporations bulldoz through the lives and the livelyhood of the Penans with total disregard to humanity itself.
As i see it, the scorpion here is actually the government that they voted in.
It is only human nature to complaint and bitch on matters we are unhappy about. It helps us remain sane.
cheers

Gerald Wee Eng Kian said...

To clarify, I used the term scorched earth in place of merciless extremism: the willingness to burn things to the ground in order to get their point across. From what I've seen, it's very dramatic and ultimately unsustainable because of how it maginalises people who would otherwise support the cause.

Extremism can also called hitting higher than your weight class in martial arts. That there is no other recourse other than to fight dirty.

Getting the numbers required to change the world is not impossible. Our founding fathers did it, an achievement I hold of no less importance than that of Ghandi, Martin Luthor King or Mandela.

The shift in the political structure of Malaysia also followed the same path. That took time, sustained effort and the care to grow the human resource into an actual threat to the local tyrants. That energy was not wasted on an aimless and futile attack.

Back to the gas pipeline. If someone is willing to build this then people are certainly going to die. Not only the Penans who lost their homes, but a lot of the blue card holders naturalised by the government as expendable workers.

There is a saying in America that there is an Irishman under each railroad tie, a testament of the human cost in the construction of their transportation system. The great construction works such as the Panama canal killed thousands through disease and lack of amenities. Our own tropical rainforest is no less daunting or lethal. Unless enough people are awake and aware that their lives are going to be spent like cheap meat in this endeavor there is little chance it can be stopped. So wake them up, one at a time if you have to. Otherwise the Bugger the Nation party will continue with their indiscriminate killing in the name of Race, Money and God.