GRIK: Datuk Seri Mohd Tajol Rosli Ghazali was surprised by retorts from members of an orang asli community yesterday when he estimated their monthly wage from tapping rubber to be higher than what they actually got.
The Perak Mentri Besar was attending a Mesra Rakyat event at RPS Kemar, an orang asli resettlement area comprising 15 villages here when he remarked that they were getting RM1,000 a month due to the good price of rubber lately.
At this point, shouts of tipu (lie) rang out from the crowd.
A startled Tajol Rosli turned diplomatic and when he suggested that they were getting a monthly income of RM500 instead, another chorus of tak betul (incorrect) rang out, mainly from a section of orang asli youths.
So is it RM400 a month? Tajol Rosli asked and the youths answered: Kadang-kadang (sometimes).
About RM350 a month then? asked Tajol Rosli and the crowd replied betul (correct). He then urged them to increase their income by selling their jungle products.
Some 800 orang asli residents had turned up to welcome Tajol Rosli at the event, where Felcra also handed out RM158,400 to them, being last years dividend.
About 440 orang asli settlers participated in Felcras 1,166ha rubber plantation scheme, which was mooted about 10 years ago.
Also present at the function were state Rural and Community Development Committee chairman Datuk Ainon Khariyah Mohd Abas and Felcra Berhad chairman Datuk Hamzah Zainudin.
When asked, most of the youths said they could only tap between 30kg and 50kg a day as their rubber trees were located in a hilly terrain.
Hamzah said Felcra had set a target of between 60kg and 80kg a day to be tapped by the orang asli but due to the hilly terrain, they could only produce about 40kg of scrap rubber a day.
Hence, they can only get between RM16 and RM20 a day from tapping rubber, said Hamzah, adding that Felcra had invested RM18mil in the scheme.
The matter was raised again during a closed-door meeting between Tajol Rosli and 15 orang asli village headmen.
The mentri besar approved a RM200,000 allocation as requested.