Thanks to Sarawak Energy and NRD Close To 1,000 Penans Get Birth Certificates and MyKad

Murum, January 11, 2013 – In line with its commitment to drive Sarawak’s thriving socio-economic development, Sarawak Energy, with the assistance of the National Registration Department (NRD), has to date (as of December 2012) helped register 839 (405 MyKad and 434 Birth Certificates) Penans and Kenyahs in Murum, Sarawak. The efforts, which began in 2009 and intensified over 2011 and 2012, have successfully issued MyKad and birth certificates for Penans and Kenyahs from Long Wat, Long Malim, Long Menapa, Long Uba, Long Singu, Long Luar and Long Tangau in Murum.

The high number of unregistered Penans and Kenyahs in Murum was discovered by Sarawak Energy during its many engagement activities with the people for the Murum Hydroelectric Project (HEP). Some of the key reasons hindering the rural folks from obtaining identification were poverty, distance and lack of familiarity with governmental procedures. There are now only around 31 Penans (14 unregistered with birth certs and 17 unregistered with MyKad) more to go.

Bit Surang, Resettlement officer for Murum: “This is our 12th visit to Murum to help the Penans and Kenyahs to register as legal Malaysian citizens and I am delighted on how fast the issue has been curbed. Working closely with the NRD, local community leaders, and Ketua Kampungs, our efforts have been fruitful thus far. Sarawak Energy and the Murum Penan and Kenyahs are going to be neighbours and partners for a long time.  We know that proper identity documents will make life a lot easier and are confident that the resettlement arrangements will significantly improve access to education, health and basic government services.”

Sylvester Bin Tausin, the NRD officer who was in Murum to distribute the new MyKad and Birth Certificates to the Penans and Kenyahs, was especially pleased with the operations organised over the years. “NRD is pleased to be collaborating with Sarawak Energy in curbing the growing undocumented Malaysians in the country. I am also pleased to see the commitment that was put in by Sarawak Energy. Started from 2009, we now have registered more than 90 per cent of the Penans and Kenyas in Murum.”

There are thousands of stateless people in Malaysia. Undocumented Malaysians –teenagers, working adults, the aged and children, who are all facing numerous hardships and hurdles, being denied basic human rights due to non-possession of personal documents. Ground stories depict the human tragedy and misery faced especially for children below 18, who have major problems accessing education and health care.

The commitment by Sarawak Energy is in line with the State and Federal Government’s vision of completing the registration exercise of undocumented Malaysians. The effort also brings Malaysia closer to the compliance to UNICEF’s Convention on the Rights of the Child. Under the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UNDRIP) – Everyone has a right to education, health and development, while UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People provides for access to land and livelihood from it.

Sarawak Energy’s IC registration initiative is only the latest example of numerous engagements and community gatherings that have been organised over the years.  The reality of the situation contrasts starkly with the baseless allegations made by radical foreign activists who falsely claim a lack of engagement.