Kelesau Naan never went to school. He signed his name with a thumb print and
spent his entire life living in the jungles of Borneo. But among his tribe, the
Penan, he was a visionary and an inspiration.
For years, he had organised his people in a desperate defence of their home and
heritage: the pristine rain-forest in the deep interior of the Malaysian state
As headman of the village of Long Kerong, Mr Naan – who was in his 70s but did
not know his exact age – had put his name to a lawsuit asserting the Penan’s
right of ownership over their native land. He organised blockades of the logging
roads to try to prevent the bulldozers and chainsaws destroying his home as they
had stripped the rest of the island.
Now he is dead, possibly murdered, allegedly by agents of the loggers whose
lucrative business he was putting in jeopardy. His broken skeleton was found
last month – two months after he was reported ...