GUA MUSANG: Social media users have been warned not to incite the notion that the authorities were lackadaisical and practised double standards in the search and rescue operations of the missing seven orang asli pupils.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (pic) said the public should not instigate the orang asli community but instead, instil hope and encourage the families of the pupils, whose fate is unknown.
"Eight government and state agencies involving more than 200 people are searching for the pupils since the children went missing 37 days ago.
"There is no question about the commitment of the search parties and on top of that, a platoon of the General Operations Force Senoi Praaq from Perak will be joining them soon because the majority of the platoon members are from here and know the terrain well," Dr Ahmad Zahid told reporters after being briefed on the search and rescue operations Monday.
He also met parents of the missing children at SK Tohoi about 50km from here.
Also present at the briefing were Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid and Deputy Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Ahmad Jazlan Yaakub.
Dr Ahmad Zahid handed aid in cash and kind to the parents of Mirsudiar Aluj, 11; Norieen Yaakob, 10; Ika Ayel, 9; Sasa Sobrie, 8; Haikal Yaakob, 8; Linda Rosli, 8, and Juvina David, 7.
The children were believed to have fled into the Balah forest reserve on Aug 23 fearing punishment for swimming in a nearby river without permission.
To a question, the Home Minister said the search would continue as long as it takes and did not exclude the possibility of criminal elements or that the children had been held captive.
"We will continue with investigations into all possible angles and motives. The search area has also been increased from 80 sq km to 140 sq km.
"The government is also considering giving compensation to the families of the children when all search and rescue avenues have been exhausted.
"This is to lessen the parents’ grief. It is proof that the government is not practising double standards just because the missing children are orang asli.
"We are serious and committed in carrying out our duty to find the defenceless children regardless of colour, creed or religion," Dr Ahmad Zahid added.