MIRI: The sight of a poverty-stricken woman living in hermit-like conditions in a mosquito-infested isolated forest near Miri city shocked Sarawak Assistant State Communications Minister Datuk Lee Kim Shin.
Lee, who is also Senadin assemblyman, visited Sidatang Gabak after being alerted to her plight by a concerned member of the public who had been hiking in the vicinity.
The hiker, Vincent Yong, was shocked to find her living in such miserable conditions and he asked Lee to help her.
Sidatang, who is in her 50s, was found living in a shabby wooden structure that resembled a chicken coop.
She uses rainwater for her daily consumption and utilises stagnant water from a disused underground well for bathing and washing.
She collects wild ferns for food and for sale to villages outside the jungle.
Her hut was full of holes and she lives with her middled-aged son who looks thin and sickly.
The forest in the area is thick and mosquito infested as well.
Lee, who is Sarawak United Peoples Party (SUPP) vice-president, brought two welfare officers along with him during the visit.
He said Sidatang had explained that she ended up living in the isolated jungle after her husband abandoned her several years ago.
“Her living conditions are deplorable. This place is not fit for humans.
“She has no electricity or water supply. On top of that, the hillslope here is prone to erosion and landslides.
“Sidatang also said she had been harassed by youths she believed could be illegal Indonesian migrants staying nearby.
“I am worried about her safety and health. I have asked the welfare officers to look into her plight.
“The Malaysian Red Cresent Society (MRCS) will provide her with food and water while we try to track down her family.
“According to her, her father lives in Kampung Bungai Sibuti, about 50km south of Miri.
“I have asked the welfare officers to arrange to take Sidatang back to her kampung to find her family.
“We will find out what problems are besieging her and her family.
“Sidatang told us her father had a piece of land in Sibuti.
“If they are indeed very poor and have no proper house, they can get help from their assemblyman, who will seek government assistance to build a low-cost house for the hardcore poor,” Lee said.
Lee thanked the kind-hearted Yong for bringing to light Sidatang’s plight, adding that immediate efforts must be made to ensure those living in misery could receive help without any delays.