Orang Asli village chiefs get vaccinated to set an example

GOMBAK: It was almost a two-hour journey for Orang Asli tok batin (village chief) Nengkak Anak Mat to reach Hospital Orang Asli Gombak to get his Covid-19 jab.

Despite fears and concerns expressed by his fellow villagers, the tok batin of Sungai Kurau village on Carey Island was adamant on getting vaccinated.

When asked whether he was afraid of being vaccinated, the 75-year-old said there was nothing to fear and added that he wanted to encourage his villagers to do the same thing.

“It’s not about being scared or not, this is the duty of the tok batin. We want to set an example to the villagers.

“There are some villagers who run away when the mobile clinic arrives. Sometimes parents take their children to the river or near the sea because they are afraid they will fall ill if they get vaccinated.

“So I thought it was better for me to go. After I return to the village, I can tell my villagers that I don’t feel any pain. Some of them tried to persuade me not to go, but I came anyway,” he said.

Nengkak was among 60 Orang Asli, 27 of whom are village chiefs, who received the Covid-19 vaccine at the hospital yesterday.

Another tok batin, Ilan Johos, said his villagers at Kampung Orang Asli Broga in Semenyih were also fearful of getting vaccinated.

“When I met the villagers and told them about registering with the Orang Asli Development Department (Jakoa) for vaccination, they declined, saying that they had read on Facebook that there were people who had died and all sorts of stories.

“I told them that if I get vaccinated and I die here, then they do not need to get the jab. But if I do get the jab and I return home, then my villagers should all get the jab.

“I am the first person in my village to get vaccinated,” said the 57-year-old.

He said no person in any part of Malaysia was safe from the virus without vaccination.

“Yes, (the Orang Asli) live in the village and perhaps last time we could rely on forest produce to survive, but now we can’t.

“We go out to work at the factories and do other kinds of jobs. The young people who go out to work could bring the virus back to the village; that’s why the disease is spreading,” he said.

Andak Pendek, tok batin at the Kuala Pangsun village, said the injection felt like an “ant bite” and the process was fast.

He was also getting vaccinated to show his people back home that there was nothing to fear.

“In our village, a lot of people are influenced by information on WhatsApp that claims vaccines are dangerous to the community, especially those who are elderly and with other health problems.

“But no matter what, it is still necessary for me to take the vaccine because I regularly go out to the town or market to buy things,” he said.

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