A Place They Now Call Home

After a year since relocating and settling in, villagers at Tegulang and Metalun Resettlement in Murum hold a thanks giving ceremony.

BINTULU, 3rd MARCH 2015, TUESDAY: Villagers at the Tegulang and Metalun Resettlement in Murum here held a thanks giving ceremony recently marking the one year anniversary of settling in their new homes.

The ceremony, initiated and organised by the Murum Penan Development Community (MPDC) and supported by Sarawak Energy, consisted of a thanksgiving prayer, home blessing and a symbolic ribbon cutting at one of the longhouses.

The guest of honour was YB Liwan Lagang, Belaga State Assemblyman and Sarawak's Assistant Minister of Culture and Heritage. He was accompanied by Belaga District Officer Abdul Halim Abdullah, Belaga Police Chief DSP Melay Tingom, and Sarawak Energy Senior Manager II for CSR Jiwari Abdullah.

In his speech, YB Liwan happily noted the positive changes and improvement displayed by the community since his last visit to the resettlement.

“This is a real change for the good. Compared to how it was in the past, it is obvious that the community has progressed with an improved standard of living, proper amenities, accessibility to development programmes, education and most importantly, the chance to participate in the mainstream of development,” he said.

He urged them to continue to cooperate and work closely with the District Office and Sarawak Energy to ensure the smooth delivery of the Resettlement Action Plan, commending the two agencies for their ongoing commitment to the community.  

YB Liwan also updated the community on the measures taken by the State Government to address some of the issues affecting the resettlement which included progress on the upgrading of the access road to the resettlement.

On the socio-cultural aspect, he expressed his strong support for the annual Batu Tungun Ritual Ceremony and announced that he will contribute RM 15,000 for the upcoming ceremony in September this year. The Batu Tungun is a sacred rock site situated at the Murum Hydro Electric Power site, and was previously very difficult to reach before the Murum project commenced. The annual ceremony is to pay homage to this sacred site.

“In time, I hope this ceremony will grow to become a grand event for the Penans in Murum just like how the Pesta Kaul is to the Melanaus,” said Liwan.

He also encouraged the Penan children to be committed in attending school as there would be incentives for those displaying good attendance.

Liwan also pledged a grant of RM5,000 to the SIB Church movement in Murum.

Earlier on, MPDC Chairman Labang Paneh said the villagers were appreciative of their new homes which offered better living conditions compared to how it was in their old villages.

“Of course, there is still more that needs to be done like upgrading the access road, schools and an improved waste management system,” he said but acknowledged the improvements since resettling.

Labang spoke of the living conditions at the resettlement, emphasising that the advantages outweighed the disadvantages and went on to highlight the benefits gained by the Penans after being resettled.

He said the schools, SK Tegulang and SK Metalun, which were set up by Sarawak Energy had elevated the learning ability of the Penan children at Murum. Nevertheless, he said the Penan community would like to request for a school of their own nearer to the Murum HEP site.

The thanks giving occasion also saw a series of side events that took place a day earlier namely a sports carnival, karaoke competition, a beauty pageant and a Ngajat competition.

Seven communities comprising 1,415 persons from 353 household units were directly affected by the Murum HEP, which is part of the development plan for Sarawak to meet the power demand of the state as well as to open up the interior to bring progress to the rural folks.

Resettling at this new site had brought about a number of benefits that has uplifted the living standards of the villagers there.

Since moving to their new homes, the community enjoy better housing in the modern designed longhouses as well as amenities like a water filtration system and constant electricity.

In addition, Sarawak Energy is also actively running programmes to aid the development of the community socially and economically.  The company’s corporate social responsibility team initiated the Murum Penan Literacy Programme to narrow the literacy gap among the Penans with 341 villagers benefiting from theprogramme.

Sarawak Energy also engaged with the community to harness the commercial potential of their handicraft-making skills, including purchasing their wares to offer as exclusive corporate gifts.

Culture and Heritage Assistant Minister and Belaga Assemblyman YB Liwan Lagang (left) along with the other guests being welcomed with a traditional dance at Tegulang Resettlement. Also seen in the photo are MPDC Chairman Labang Paneh (fourth left) and Belaga District Officer Abdul Halim Abdullah (sixth left).

Culture and Heritage Assistant Minister and Belaga Assemblyman YB Liwan Lagang and other guests make their way into one of the longhouses at Tegulang Resettlement for the thanks-giving ceremony.

Culture and Heritage Assistant Minister and Belaga Assemblyman YB Liwan Lagang (left) together with village headman Abok Jalong symbolically cut the ribbon to one of the rooms at a longhouse at Tegulang Resettlement. Also seen are Sarawak Energy Senior Manager II for CSR Jiwari Abdullah (second rear left), MPDC Chairman Labang Paneh (third rear left) and Belaga District Officer Abdul Halim Abdullah (third front left).

Tug of war challenge is one of the games at the sports carnival held in conjunction with the thanks-giving ceremony.

A game of football to foster sportsmanship and for an active lifestyle.