Sumar Sariff (left) hands over food aid to longhouse chieftain Baya Sipat.

MIRI: The Sarawak Oil Palms Berhad (SOP) has extended a helping hand to the Penan communities in Murum by donating essential food items to 102 needy families from Uma Baya Sipat and Uma Mato Tugang.

The 102 families received essential food items such as rice, cooking oil, salt, sugar and instant coffee during a handover session held at their respective longhouses.

SOP was represented by plantation controller Jimbau Tumbai who was accompanied by estate managers Crennell Andrew Balai and Muhammad Sumar Sariff.

They visited the two longhouses and handed over food aid to chieftains Baya Sipat and Mato Tugang.

The company in a statement said since the implementation of movement control order (MCO) in March, the community could barely cope as their main source of income was cut off. They were unable to sell their handmade knives and jungle produce at the nearby town, Anding due to the MCO restriction.

Jimbau said the communities were impacted financially by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We would like to do what we can during these trying times such as providing relief to the needy that live within or near to our operation area,” he said.

He said the company also donated food aid to 50 Penan families from Long Peran, Murum last month.

 “We realised that many in our communities are struggling and do not have enough to eat, thus we took the initiative to reach out to them and offered much needed subsistence to the needy.

“We would like to help ease the burden of these underprivileged groups, especially those who are badly affected by the pandemic,” he said.

He added this would be the company’s ongoing commitment in giving back to the community.