Some 3,000 Penans in six settlements in upper Belaga, in Kapit Division are facing a food shortage, Deputy Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Joseph Entulu Belaun said here, today.

The settlements of Lusong Laku, Long Avit, Long Kajang, Long Tanyit, Long Malim and Long Ladem had been facing the shortage of food over the last three months.

“Their farms had been destroyed by wild animals and they are now depending entirely on food that they foraged from the jungle, but the supply is insufficient,” he told reporters here.

He came to know about the situation when several Penan headmen in the settlements met him during his visit together with Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia and several members of Parliament to Lusong Laku recently.

He said that the headmen told him that they were not able to inform the authorities earlier about their predicament due to the remoteness of the settlements.

Lusong Laku, which is the nearest among the six settlements, could be reached from Bintulu through rugged timber track after a journey of at least nine hours, said Entulu.

He added that it would also take about six hours to travel by road to Lusong Laku from Sungai Asap Resettlement Scheme which is located about 30 kilometres from the site of the Bakun hydroelectric project.

He said that he would highlight the matter with his ministry officials as well as those from the relevant Federal ministries for immediate measures to assist the Penans there.

As deputy president of Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS), he said that he would discuss with his president, Datuk Seri Dr James Jemut Masing and Hulu Rajang Member of Parliament Billy Abit Joo to mobilise immediate assistance for the affected people. – Bernama