THE Orang Seletar in Kampung Bakar Batu Perling, Johor Baru, want the authorities to disseminate information on the Covid-19 vaccination.
Village head Tok Batin Kais Tee said there were many news reports on the vaccination, including unverified ones circulating on social media.
He said the Johor Orang Asli Development Department (Jakoa) was the best organisation to reach out to the Orang Asli.
“Johor is among the states with many Covid-19 cases in recent weeks, ’’ he said.
He added that although there were no reports of Orang Asli in the state testing positive for Covid-19 since the outbreak about a year ago, they would not take things for granted.
A temporary barrier has been set up at the village’s entrance since the start of the movement control order on Jan 13.
“We don’t want outsiders to spread the illness to our community, ’’ said Kais.
He also appealed to the Marine Department to allow villagers to travel further from the village to fish during this period.
The villagers, he highlighted, were facing hardship as they could only fish within the waters off Danga Bay opposite the village.
He said a land reclamation project barely 2km away from the village, which started about a decade ago, had affected their catch before this.
The project, he said, had damaged the mangroves and river banks where freshwater prawns and mangrove mud crabs (ketam bangkang) could be caught.
“We used to fish in the waters off Danga Bay.
“Nowadays, we have to go to Kota Tinggi or areas near Gelang Patah, but we cannot travel that far now due to the MCO, ” he added.
His wife, Yang Tom hoped the state government would distribute food baskets to the villagers now that outsiders were not allowed to enter the village.
“We depend on outsiders, including anglers, who come to buy fish and bait from us, ’’ she said.
When contacted, Johor Jakoa director Faisal Long said the department would provide the necessary information on the vaccination programme to the Orang Asli.
“We will work closely with the relevant authorities on the best way to reach out to them and also take into account the ongoing MCO.”
He said there were about 16,700 Orang Asli living in 60 villages in Johor.
They comprise five ethnic groups, namely Jakun, Orang Kuala, Orang Seletar, Temuan and Kanaq.
Kluang district has the highest number of Orang Asli with 12
villages, followed by Mersing and Segamat with nine villages each.
Others are Johor Baru (eight), Batu Pahat (seven), Kota Tinggi (five), Muar (five), Tangkak (three) and Pontian (two).