KUCHING: Poverty, distance and lack of familiarity with governmental procedures are some of the main reasons that have hindered rural folk in Sarawak from obtaining identification documents, said Sarawak Energy (SEB) resettlement officer for Murum hydroelectric project, Bit Surang.He said the high number of unregistered Penans and Kenyahs in Murum was discovered during SEB’s many engagement activities with the people for the Murum project, where the issue has been curbed with assistance from the National Registration Department (NRD), local community leaders, and village heads.“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,” he said when visiting Murum recently to help the Penans and Kenyahs register as legal Malaysian citizens.He said efforts, which began in 2009 and intensified over 2011 and 2012, had to date successfully issued MyKad and birth certificates to 839 Penans and Kenyahs from Long Wat, Long Malim, Long Menapa, Long Uba, Long Singu, Long Luar and Long Tangau in Murum.He said SEB’s identity card registration initiative was only the latest example of numerous engagements and community gatherings that had beenorganised over the years and the reality of the situation contrasted starkly with the baseless allegations made by radical foreign activists, who falsely claimed a lack of engagement.Meanwhile, Sylvester 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 initiative taken over the years.Through the collaboration with SEB, he said, the department had registered more than 90 per cent of the Penans and Kenyahs in Murum, since 2009.The commitment by SEB is in line with the state and federal government’s vision of completing the registration exercise of undocumented Malaysians – an effort that 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. — Bernama
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