Finally they open their eyes to the need to enfranchise the 10 000 Penans in Ulu Baram-2 years after MEO-Net started the campaign in 2009!
Baram needs more assemblymen
Will the Election Commission consider Baram’s need for more constituencies?
KUCHING: Baram constituency, home to the controversial RM3 billion Baram Dam, in Sarawak needs more paliamentarians and state assemblymen.
Currently Baram, which is almost the size of Pahang in the peninsular but has only two state seats – Telang Usan and Marudi – under the single Baram parliamentary constituency.
Pahang on the other hand has 42 state seats and 14 parliamentarians.
The issue is in the numbers.
A decade ago Baram used to have over 90,000 population. Now it has just over 45,000 and they are spread thinly across the Baram’s scenic landscape of mountains, rivers and stretches of green .
Some 80 percent of the Baram interior is accessible only by a 400km network of logging roads and with limited opportunities the rural-urban migration has been a big problem.
Population and accessibility aside, Baram currently only has 26, 716 registered voters.
Said Baram MP Jacob Dungau Sagan: “We need to persuade the Election Commission (EC) to create another seat when they carry out their next delineation exercise. To do this we need to increase the number of voters.”
“But with the number we are having now it would be hard for us to convince the Election Commission to create an additional seat in Baram in their next boundary alignment exercise.
“It can only be done in the next delineation exercise in two or three years time,” he told a weekend seminar on motivation here.
Sagan (photo) has been Baram’s MP since 1995 when he defeated environmentalist Harrisan Ngau.
According to Sagan, the only way to convince the EC to give Baram more seats is to increase voter registrations in a specific area to at least 6,000.
(Currently Ba Kelalan, a remote Orang Ulu-dominated area in the Lun Bawang heartland has 6,958 voters. It is said to be the smallest constituency in Sarawak).
Sagan is eyeing the Penan community with its 10,000 unregistered voters.
“There are about 10,000 Penan living in the area, and out of this some 5,000 could be eligible voters.
“Last month, we managed to register more than 1,000 Penan voters,” he said, adding that the task of registering these natives was far from easy. Many in the Orang Ulu community, he said, were stateless.
“But we have already begun efforts to help them with their birth certificates and documentations,” he said.