GUA MUSANG: The search for the missing seven orang asli children has turned unpleasant. The community is accusing the authorities of having a lax attitude.
Kelantan Orang Asli Youth Network chairman Dendi Johari (pic) said he was disappointed that the search and rescue operations comprised only 104 people from the police, Civil Defence Department, Rela and the Fire and Rescue Department.
“There should have been more.”
The children, whose ages ranged from seven to 11, disappeared last Sunday.
They were believed to have lost their way in the Tohoi forest reserve after running away to evade punishment for going for a swim without permission.
Dendi said the forest reserve covered an area of 400ha, which is “too large for 104 personnel”, adding that scores of orang asli have gone into the forest, searching round the clock.
“They are camping out in the jungle, hoping to find the children.”
Dendi said their search at night was done without using light as they did not want to attract the attention of wild elephants.
Two bomohs indicated that the children were still alive, but were unable to pinpoint their location, he said.
Kelantan Fire and Rescue Department deputy senior officer Abdul Manaf Jaafar said there was a possibility that the seven from SK Tohoi were hiding in the jungle.
He cited cases of orang asli students who skipped school for weeks after being scolded.
Abdul Manaf said he would ask the General Operations Force to widen the search area.
“We are running out of time and it has been raining at night," he said, adding that the children were barefooted.