Orang asli homes lie in the lake

In need of help: Berlaun and his family members looking at the their submerged house (in the background) at the Temengor Dam at Kampung Tebang Lama, in Gerik, Perak.

GERIK: Many orang asli houses at the Temengor Dam in Perak remainsubmerged in water three months after severe floods hit several states.

The water level at the dam, known as the Temengor Lake, has not gone down to the level before the start of the floods on Dec 25.

Many villagers are still living in tents and makeshift bamboo huts as their houses have not been repaired or rebuilt.

At the Jehai village of Tebang Lama, for example, two houses are still under water while another is badly damaged.

Berlaun, 48, has not rebuilt his house, which had been flooded up to the roof, because he was overwhelmed by “so many things to do”.

“I have to replant rubber trees and tapioca first,” said the father of seven, who is now living with one of his children.

He erected his house three years ago. “I want to build a new home on higher ground, but I do not have the money to buy the tools.”

Berlaun’s house was 80m from the lake. The water level rose and flooded up to 100m inland and has now receded only by 20m.

Villager Azman Luntin, 39, who has been living in a makeshift bamboo hut for last three months with his family, said the water was going down too slowly.

His house, which was originally 100m away from the lake, was a wreck.

“Whenever I get a bit of money from produce collected from the jungle, I will buy nails,” he said.

He added that he would need more than 200 nails, a saw and a hammer to build a new home.

He said he had asked the De­­partment of Orang Asli Development for assistance to build a house and buy a generator, clothes, wok and other basic necessities destroyed in the floods. “But I have not heard from them.”

A villager whose house is still totally submerged, Pinjak Tengas, in his 50s, said he could not afford to rebuild his home.

He has difficulty getting enough jungle produce and fish to sell due to pollution from logging and plantation activities.

“I feel there is no hope. What is there to look forward to?” he said.

In Kampung Chuweh, 12 houses remain submerged and three others are badly damaged.

Village head Kawah, 50, said the community had asked Tenaga Nasional Bhd to release the water further but it had not receded much..

“I am worried that if it rains heavily again the water at the dam will hit us even though we are now on higher ground,” he said.

Mazlan Pandak, 29, said the water was about 7m higher than the original level, and 5m away from their homes, compared to 10m before the floods.

The father of five said: “We want the water to return to its original le­­vel because we need the land space to build more homes.

“The houses are already very close to one another and there is not much space left to build new homes.”

He said the Government had yet to build new houses for them as promised.

Meanwhile, the people of Kam­­pung Tebang Baru are still living in tents on a higher ground after five houses built for the hardcore poor were badly damaged by the floods.

An orang asli Network committee member Mohd Affendi Along said the names of people affected by the floods had been sent to the Department of Orang Asli Development but no rebuilding or repair work had been done in the Jehai villages.

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