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Win Some, Lose Some for Beleaguered Penan Tribe

Source:  Copyright 2009, Inter Press Service
Date:  September 21, 2009
Byline:  Baradan Kuppusamy
Original URL: Status ONLINE

In wealthy Malaysia that employs over four million Asians to service its high- rolling lifestyle, a tiny indigenous tribe is fighting for its survival against state inaction and bureaucratic apathy, as well as marauding giant multinationals and timber loggers.

It is an increasingly losing battle for the Penan, a tribe of about 12,000 semi- nomadic people fighting against destruction of their home in the jungles of Sarawak state in East Malaysia, home to the world’s oldest rain forest and a complex ecosystem.

The state’s wildlife and unique tropical ecosystem are equally under threat from loggers who swing into the forest felling the best trees, leaving giant oil palm plantations while clearing the logged forest to grow more palm oil.

In recent months about 3,000 Penan in the Bakun area in upper Rejang River – the second longest river in the country – faced severe food shortage for various reasons, including drought sparked by deforestation. ...

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