KUCHING: Indigenous communities in Belaga, Sarawak, still live in poverty with inadequate healthcare and infrastructure, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) said in its preliminary findings after a visit to the area.
The findings concluded that a specific poverty eradication programme targeted at these indigenous groups should be formulated to address their plight.
It also found that many Penan folk in Ulu Belaga do not have birth certificates and identity cards and that their livelihood were affected by logging and oil palm plantations.
The Suhakam delegation, led by commissioner Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria, visited the Sungai Asap relocation area and the Penan communities in Long Singu and Long Jaik, Ulu Belaga, from Sept 17-19.
Dr Denison said in a press statement that members of the community complained about delay in payment of compensation, sub-standard housing, poor drainage and roads, inadequate number of health personnel and loss of access to surrounding forest areas.
The relocated communities, comprising ethnic groups such as the Kenyah, Kayan, Lahanan, Ukit and Penan, also complained that the land allocated to them was of poor quality and inadequate size and that they have yet to receive formal letters indicating that plots of land have been allocated to them.
The commission also found that most of the Penans in Long Singu and Long Jaik have not been registered with the National Registration Department.