When I was small, growing up in the interior of Kota Marudu in the northern part of Sabah, I used to hear stories about timber camp workers and the infamy of their behaviour towards the locals, particularly towards young girls.

Angry young boy

I remember feeling angry, as a small boy, when I heard stories of how timber camp workers were disturbing girls in my area and wished that I was a grown up man so that I could challenge these menacing men in a fistfight.

Standing up to abuse

I also remember how proud I was to see grown up men in my village stood up to their infamy.

At one stage, several men in my village cornered a timber camp worker, whom I suspected to be illegal immigrant, who dared stalking a girl who was on her way back from the market, and scared him shit that he pleaded for mercy for hours and repeatedly promised he would never show his face again in the village.

Tail between the legs

Imagine how satisfied I felt when seeing him — tall, fit, and with bulging muscle — all pale and pleading for his life.

The men, all of whom were my relative, could have finished him off and bury him there and then or throw him into the buffalo muck without anyone knowing. But we were no animal. We let him go and heard no more of him.

This childhood memory came back to haunt me when I saw a report about timber camp workers in Sarawak have been sexually-abusing Penan women and girls.

Sort out the timber mess

Police say they will investigate but they have not yet received any report on the matter.

Now Suhakam, the Malaysian Human Rights Commission will also look into the matter.

According to a report in The Star, Sarawak Human Rights Commissioner Dr Mohd Hirman Ritom had described the allegation as “very serious.”

“We must establish the truth. These allegations are very serious in nature, especially if they involved natives who are isolated and defenceless.

“They are allegations of a criminal nature, not just a violation of human rights. We will have to visit those areas where such alleged crimes took place and speak to the people in those areas,” he said.

The authorities should really get down to this issue and stop the menace once and for all.

Why are the forests still being plundered anyway?

And another thing, why are the forests still being plundered? Can’t the Sarawak government do any better than resorting to damaging the forest?

The same goes to Sabah. Why are the forest still being plundered? Can’t the Sabah government do any better?

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