IPOH, May 7 — Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu today said he will ask the authorities to look into a news report claiming Orang Asli children in Gerik were becoming malnourished because of logging activities.
He said the state government will immediately contact the Gerik district officer and the Orang Asli Development Department (Jakoa) on the matter but at the same time, he urged the media to report responsibly.
“If true, there are malnourished children in Gerik, they should report it to the nearest welfare department, the responsible member of parliament, Jakoa and the state government.
“They should provide more details so that we can take action, and not sensationalise it or create panic,” he told reporters after an event here.
Star2.com had reported on Sunday that the Orang Asli at Pos Kemar, Gerik, especially the children, were becoming malnourished after their farms and orchards were destroyed by logging activities in the area.
Ahmad Faizal said the government has given out a lot assistance to the poor in the state, including the Orang Asli community in Gerik.
He said the government had launched the ‘Kotak Harapan’ and ‘Kad Prihatin Perak’ to allow the B40 group including the Orang Asli community to enjoy nutritious food.
“This assistance is not only for the poor people in the urban area, but also channelled to the ones in the rural area, such as the Orang Asli community,” he said.
A statement issued by the Mentri Besar’s Office later said a check showed that the Health Ministry had carried out programmes to improve nutrition among the Orang Asli children at Pos Kemar under the Community Feeding Program (CFM) since 2010.
“There are a total of 17 feeding centres in Pos Kemar. The children are given milk, biscuits and vitamin by the local volunteers once a week.
“However, Kampung Ralak and seven other Orang Asli settlements could not be reached under the programme due to logistics and transportation issues. There are 643 children aged under 6 years in Pos Kemar and 86 of them are having malnutrition issues and they are placed under the CFM,” the statement read.
The statement also reported that 80 per cent of children in Pos Kemar had received polio vaccination, while 70 per cent had received measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination and that some could not be reached as they had moved deeper into the jungle.
On claims of rampant logging in Gerik, the statement said the state consistently complies with the annual logging quota set by the National Land Council at 7,744 hectares annually.
Logging activities are carried out through selective logging, where only trees, which meet standard requirements, are allowed to be logged, after the tagging process.
“The mentri besar will not hesitate to freeze any logging licences if the activities do not comply with the requirements.
“For example, logging activities along Sungai Rui in Gerik have been ordered to stop pending investigations into river pollution problems,” the statement read.