PUTRAJAYA, April 22 — Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has promised to help improve the livelihoods of the Orang Asli by helping them develop business opportunities in tourism.
The 93-year-old said his government has formulated strategies and plans to teach the Orang Asli how to be entrepreneurs capable of competing and sustaining themselves in the marketplace through eco and agro-tourism.
“The government has always endeavoured to improve the plight of the Orang Asli and we want to help improve their quality of life by helping them earn fixed and sustainable incomes,” said Dr Mahathir during his speech to inaugurate the National Orang Asli Convention at Putrajaya International Convention Centre earlier today.
“We’ve identified certain strategies to be implemented along with the existing economic policy whereby we teach and nurture the Orang Asli to develop and grow the local tourism industry through indigenous eco and agro-tourism.
“I believe this sector will be the one to develop their own economy through new job opportunities capable of providing them with a fixed income through sales of handicrafts and products sourced from the jungle.
“Subsequently it will also encourage the youth to participate in entrepreneurial activities.”
Dr Mahathir was accompanied by National Unity and Social Well-being Minister Senator P. Waythamoorthy during the convention where he spoke to more than 500 Orang Asli and their leaders and representatives from all over the country.
He reminded them that his government has not forgotten its election pledges.
He said part of Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) manifesto was to look into the plight of the Orang Asli, which he said can only be done holistically.
“The promise to improve Orang Asli’s conditions are written in ‘Promise 38’ in PH’s manifesto which is to ‘Defend the Rights of the Orang Asli’,” Dr Mahathir said.
“There was a need to upgrade the operations of JAKOA so they would be more efficient in tackling the needs of the Orang Asli hence one of the things we did was to transfer JAKOA (Department of Orang Asli Development) from the Rural Development ministry to the Prime Minister’s Office so they can be under the direct supervision of YB Waytha Moorthy.”
Dr Mahathir said according to the latest statistics out of the 853 Orang Asli villages in the country roads are at 84 per cent done while electricity is at 80 per cent, water 79 per cent while public housing project, Projek Perumahan Rakyat Miskin Tegar (PPRT), is at 82 per cent completion.
“The government is committed to see these development projects are 100 per cent done, which will in turn improve the way of life for all Orang Asli in Malaysia,” said Dr Mahathir.