MIRI - Some 500 Penans lost everything when fire razed their two longhouses last week and two timber giants operating in the area came forward to give the fire victims a donation – the total amount: RM900.
Long Kajang longhouses are located deep in Kapit Division in central Sarawak in a logging concession zone near the Sarawak-Kalimantan border, some 11 hours by timber road from Bintulu.
Many of the victims lost personal documents like birth certificates and MyKads recently issued by the National Registration Department’s mobile units.
Some 200 Penans there are now living in makeshift huts.
In Long Luar, not far from the Murum dam site, some 300 Penans are also living in dire straits after their longhouse was razed by fire last week.
Hulu Rejang MP Billy Abit Joo, who is trying to get welfare help for the affected folks, was shocked by the paltry sum offered by the timber companies.
''I am very sad to find out that two big timber companies operating in the areas had only offered RM700 and RM200 respectively to help the fire victims.
''What can the fire victims do with that tiny sum? At the very least, these timber companies should help to provide material for the Penan fire victims to rebuild their homes.
''After all, these giant companies have tonnes of resources from their timber and oil palm projects. Have a heart for these Penans,'' he said Tuesday, according to The Star.
Abit said he asked for the state government’s help to rebuild the Long Kajang longhouse using government funds for rural poverty eradication.
He is trying to secure RM40,000 for each of the affected families.
''Right now, the fire victims urgently need food supplies and other material aid such as clothes, cooking utensils and mattresses and blankets,'' he said.
Abit said he had channeled RM6,000 as immediate food aid.
Belaga Catholic priest Father Sylvester Ding said he is trying to help the victims using public donations that people from throughout Malaysia had contributed to hungry Penans in Belaga last year.
''I will visit the fire victims soon. They need clothes and food supplies and other necessities fast,'' he said.
All the victims are still at the site of their burnt settlements in makeshift protection from the sun and rain.