More than 50% of orang asli to remain below the poverty level

KUANTAN: More than 50 percent of the orang asli are expected to remain below the poverty level or hardcore poor due to a surge in the cost of living.

Senator Osman Bungsu, who represents the arang asli community in the senate said 50 percent of the 141,230 orang asli are still categorised as hardcore poor or below the poverty level.

”This is due to a surge in the price of essential goods although the price of oil had come down,” he said after officiating at a forum for the Orang Asli Dialogue - Integrity Tour 2008 at Universiti Tenaga Nasional Sultan Ahmad Shah campus here on Saturday.

The dialogue, organised by Integrity Institute of Malaysia and Uniten, themed Alam Lestari, Integriti Asli featured director of the Academic Heritage Museum, University Kebangsaan Malaysia Prof Emeritus Datuk Mohd Hood Salleh and the Education Ministry’s deputy director of curriculum development centre Dr Sharifah Bee Aboo Bakar, among the panelist.

He said that a laid back approach towards education would push the orang asli deeper into the annals of poverty.

Osman added that the inability to master the 3M (read, write, count) and the percentage of primary school children advancing to secondary level was relatively very low among the orang asli.

”Since independence 51 years ago, statistics show that there are only four orang asli doctors and a professor in the country,” he said.

He added that in order to see the orang asli community progress, concerted efforts must be made and a holistic approach taken through advancement in human capital, economy, infrastructure, education and entrepreneur development.       

”Our main objective is to introduce a ministry to oversee the welfare and development of the orang asli community and if possible appoint an orang asli as a minister,” he said. — Bernama.

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