BELAGA – The Penans, who live in one of the remotest parts of Sarawak, have been well and truly connected to the rest of the state and the world.
They now have cellular coverage and Internet access – thanks to a hi tech telecommunication system that the government has installed at Long Urun near here.
Minister of Communications and Multimedia Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak launched the system – a 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) communication tower – at SK Long Urun, about three hours drive on a part sealed part gravel road from here and more than six hours from Bintulu town.
Developed by DIGI in collaboration with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission, the tower uses the latest SmallCell(Doppler 5000) and VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal) technologies and is touted as the first of its kind in the country, able to penetrate very interior areas “to connect the still unconnected”.
Penan Joseph Usan, of Uma Dikan in Long Dulit in Long Uran, who was among 15 long house chiefs invited to the launch, including four from the Kenyah Badeng community, was overjoyed at being “connected”.
“This project is very good. Now everyone can call someone far away. The young people will be very happy they can access the Internet,” he said.
“This project proves the government is not negelecting even a very small community like ours which is very deep in the interior. We are not being treated as ‘anak tiri'(step children)”.
“Like a good father, the Barisan Nasional government is giving us what it gives to others in the family,” he added.
Long Urun is a settlement of 10 Penan and four Kenyah longhouses with a population of around 1,200 people. Penans in Sarawak are estimated to number about 10,000.
Hulu Rajang Member of Parliament Datuk Wilson Ugak Kumbong appreciates what the project does for the constituency, which is the size of Pahang and the biggest in Malaysia.
Ugak said he could now communicate with his supporters and arrange meetings with the people.
He said the project showed the emphasis of the Federal and state governments on rural development.
Chuk Pai Ugon, the BN candidate for Murum, which is in Hulu Rajang, is happy too with the attention given to rural development.
The businessman and PRS branch leader is the first from the state minority Kenyah (Orang Ulu) community to contest in a state election.
Murun, with 7,648 registered voters, is one of the 11 new seats and one of the six constituencies where DAP clashes with PKR. The other candidate in the four-cornered fight is former Belaga assemblyman Stanley Ajang Batok, who is contesting as an independent.
Chuk said he would ask for better telecommunication coverage in Murum besides more roads and amenities like treated water and power supply as well as the upgrading of schools.
He also envisages developing new padi and oil palm areas, apart from the setting up of a Fire and Rescue Department office in the Sungai Asap Resettlement Centre, the biggest in Belaga district with over 10,000 people. – BERNAMA