KUALA LUMPUR: The Orang Asli Development Department (Jakoa) denies it plans to move the Orang Asli in Kuala Koh to another location, says Minister in the Prime Minister's Department P. Waytha Moorthy.
Waytha, the minister in charge of Orang Asli welfare and interests, denied the claims made by Kelantan Mentri Besar Datuk Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah in an English news portal on Tuesday (June 18).
"I empathise with the Orang Asli in Kuala Koh, who have been hit by the outbreak.
"As such, Jakoa has no intention of moving the Bateq community to any new location, and the matter was never raised at all through any media or discussed in any meeting at the department level," he said in a statement Wednesday (June 19).
Waytha said the government respected the traditional lifestyle of the Bateq people.
"They are more comfortable living in their current natural environment and it is not reasonable for us to move them to another place," he said.
He added that there were several development projects carried out by Jakoa in the village and 16 houses have been built under the Home Building Programme implemented by the Rural Development Ministry.
"Jakoa will ensure that homes continue to be built in this community until all of them have their own houses," he said.
Waytha said Jakoa would also work with the state health department and district health office to ensure that the infants and children in the Bateq community received their measles immunisation.
It would also carry out a campaign to create awareness on the importance of health among the community to prevent such outbreaks in future, he said.
Jakoa will also work with the Kelantan state health department to build a water supply and environmental cleanliness system as soon as the village zone is free from outbreak, he said, adding that Jakoa had applied to the Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Ministry for treated water to be supplied to the village.