‘Bateq not being relocated’

  • Nation
  • Thursday, 20 Jun 2019

Staying safe: Pupils of SK Sungai Berua – mainly from the Semaq Beri tribe – wearing face masks as a health precaution. — Bernama

PETALING JAYA: Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department P. Waytha moorthy and the Orang Asli Development Department (Jakoa) have denied that the Bateq in Kampung Kuala Koh will be moved to another location after the tribe was hit by a fatal measles outbreak.

Jakoa said moving them to a new location was not the best solution to solve the problems faced by the community.

“Proper planning that transcends agencies has to be formulated to achieve development that is holistic, integrated and sustainable,” it said in a statement yesterday.

The department added that it was working on solutions to help the community, including setting up several economic projects and ensuring they got a constant supply of electricity.

Similarly, Waytha moorthy, who oversees Jakoa, 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 in a statement.

They were responding to a news report quoting Kelantan Deputy Mentri Besar Datuk Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah as saying that Jakoa would move the villagers to another location.

The Bateq in the village in Kelantan have come under the spotlight lately following the deaths of 15 of their people since May.

The common measles, combined with a fragile im­mune system and severe malnutrition, has been cited as a possible cause of death.

Peninsular Malaysia Orang Asli Villages Network (Jkoasm) chairman Tijah Yok Chopil said the issue at hand was that the Bateq there were not provided with development that suited their needs.

“The problem is those providing them help are doing it from their own perspectives, and not from those receiving the help.

When it fails, the Orang Asli are blamed,” she told reporters at a forum on the Orang Asli at the Faculty of Human Ecology at Universiti Putra Malaysia yesterday.

She said there was no reason for the Bateq people to move from their ancestral land, where they have been living for years.

“If you say the environment is polluted, then just clean it up. If there is no water and electricity, make sure they are supplied with both,” she said.

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