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Published: Friday March 15, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Thursday April 18, 2013 MYT 12:57:05 AM

Orang asli villagers in Tapah are welcoming change into their lives

MANY city dwellers take no heed of tarred roads, street lamps and brick houses in their daily lives, as these amenities are a dime a dozen in developed areas.

However, such amenities are something to be proud of for orang asli rubber tapper Salmiah Bah Sahak and the 216 villagers of Kampung Sungai Bindu in Tapah.

“From as far as I can remember, the village was always plunged in darkness during the night as we only had two street lamps in the entire village.

“Besides safety concerns, the lack of proper lighting also enabled livestock from elsewhere and wild animals to plunder our crops at night,” she said, adding that the villagers planted tapioca, cili padi and bananas.

After enduring this for decades, the villagers finally submitted a request for additional street lamps to incumbent Chenderiang assemblyman Datuk Dr Mah Hang Soon after he won the state seat in 2008.

“The street lamps were installed last October and the entire village is now illuminated at night.

“We feel safer as we can see our surroundings and even chase away animals that destroy our crops,” said Salmiah, 37.

Efforts to build and upgrade infrastructure in the state constituency is not limited to Kampung Sungai Bindu, as many other orang asli villages have also gotten their wishes fulfilled by Dr Mah and the government.

Kampung Batu 14 Tok Batin Salim Bah Badan, 55, was smiling broadly when he showed visitors the concrete roads that weave through the village.

“The dirt roads that we used to have were dangerous as they became muddy and slippery whenever it rained, causing us to constantly worry for our children’s safety.

“Thus, we asked Dr Mah for assistance and the concrete roads were completed last year.

“We feel much safer now and the village also looks neater and more organised,” he said, adding that the roads were made of concrete because the terrain was too rocky for tar roads.

Salim, who was full of praises for Dr Mah whom he described as approachable and helpful, said the next step would be to request for street lamps to be erected in the village.

“Right now, we have no street lamps at all.

“We were told before that it was not possible to put up street lamps without proper roads in the village.

“Now that the requirement has been fulfilled, I am confident that our application for the street lamps will go through,” he said.

Over at Kampung Sungai Rensak near Kuala Woh, housewife Misa Awan, 43, is relieved that her village is no longer plagued by flash floods after the construction of a nearby drain last year.

“A landslide in 1993 had wiped out a water retention area near the village.

“After that, we started experiencing regular flash floods whenever it rained heavily,” she said.

Misa said with rainwater being directed into the new drain, there had been no more floods in the village.

Another recent development, which had brought good to the village, according to Misa, was the construction of new water pipes to alleviate the problem of low water pressure.

“The water pressure was so low that we were forced to fill water in containers from the taps of houses situated on the lower parts of the hill and transport them back up to our homes,” she lamented.

Tags / Keywords: Community, News, Utilities, water in perak

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