Bateq folk want govt assurance

  • Nation
  • Thursday, 18 Jul 2019

Have some eggs: Dr Mah handing out food to a family at Kampung Kuala Koh in Gua Musang. With him is Kelantan MCA deputy chairman Chee Sien Chen.

GUA MUSANG: The Kampung Kuala Koh Orang Asli villagers here called for assurance from the Federal Government that they will not have to experience another spate of deaths in their community.

A 32-year-old villager, who declined to be named, said the Bateq community at the village hoped to have better access to facilities, including healthcare, to prevent such an incident from recurring.

“The situation is okay now. If the deaths are caused by an illness as reported, then we hope it will not happen again,” he said during a visit by MCA deputy president Datuk Dr Mah Hang Soon to the village yesterday.

“We want our lives to be better taken care of. We also want clean piped water, land for farming as well as education for our children,” he said.

The Health Ministry had earlier cited the common measles – combined with a fragile immune system and severe malnutrition – as the possible cause of deaths in 16 people from the Bateq tribe in the village.

Only four of the deaths were confirmed to be measles, while the rest are still undergoing post-mortem.

Several groups had lodged police reports claiming that the deaths were due to pollution in Sungai Lebir, which was later denied by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who cited a Health Ministry report during her visit to the settlement.

Dr Mah believes the Health Ministry was hiding the truth from the villagers. He said that despite a sample analysis by the Federation of Private Medical Practitioners Associations of Malaysia showing a high amount of manganese in the water near the village, the ministry was not telling the villagers anything.

“I’ve spoken to one of the villagers. The relevant agencies were not disclosing anything to them despite numerous queries about the water source.

“They were also told to use water from a tank supplied by the state government. This means that they know something is wrong with the water there,” he said.

Dr Mah also slammed the Health Ministry over complaints by some women in the village that they were given contraceptive injections for anaemia.

“I am disappointed. It’s clearly against human rights. Anaemia can be treated and the injection was not necessary,” he said.

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