New focus for department

JOHOR BARU: Johor Orang Asli Development Department (Jakoa) hopes to receive an increase in financial allocation under the recently tabled Federal Budget 2021 compared with the previous year.

State Jakoa director Faisal Long said more money would allow the department to better plan projects to assist the Orang Asli community in Johor.

He said the department had yet to receive any details from the Rural Development Ministry on the allocation for Johor Jakoa under Budget 2021.

“We are hoping to get between RM1.5mil and RM1.8mil compared with RM1.2mil received under Budget 2020, ’’ Faisal said when contacted.

He said among the projects in the pipeline for the community next year include cattle rearing, breeding stingless bees for their honey, fishing, as well as coffee, pineapple and rubber cultivation.

Faisal said the department wanted to focus more on revenue-generating activities and education to teach the community to be economically independent in years to come.

He added that apart from the economic activities, the money would be used to build more tube wells to provide clean water and community halls at the Orang Asli villages.

“We are not building any more kindergartens as we already have 37 kindergartens in all districts in Johor with 484 pre-schoolers, ’’ said Faisal.

Separately, he said the department was currently in talks with the Johor State Economic Planning Unit (Upen) to set-up a centre at Orang Asli villages.

Faisal said the centre would sell agriculture produce, fish and seafood to villagers as well as outsiders to supplement the villagers’ income.

He said the department also welcomed the decision by the government to rope in retired soldiers and policemen to patrol jungles, alongside Orang Asli in a move to safeguard biodiversity.

Faisal says the money would be used to build more tube wells to provide clean water and community halls at the Orang Asli villages.Faisal says the money would be used to build more tube wells to provide clean water and community halls at the Orang Asli villages.

“It is a right move as Orang Asli know the jungle better and their knowledge and experience will be useful in assisting the retired soldiers and cops in their duties, ’’ said Faisal.

About 16,700 Orang Asli are living in 68 villages in the state from five different ethnic groups namely Jakun, Orang Kuala, Orang Seletar, Temuan and Kanaq.

Kluang district has the highest number of Orang Asli villages in Johor with 12, followed by Mersing and Segamat with nine villages respectively.

Others are Johor Baru and Pasir Gudang with eight villages respectively, Batu Pahat with seven, Kota Tinggi and Muar with five each, Tangkak with three and two in Pontian.

During the tabling of Budget 2021 in Parliament on Nov 6, Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz had announced that RM150mil would be allocated for the Orang Asli community for social assistance programmes including opening 14 kindergartens for them.

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