KUALA LUMPUR, June 9 — Peninsular Malaysia Orang Asli Villages Network (JKOASM) has called on the relevant parties to study the cleanliness and quality of water resources in all 853 Orang Asli villages to prevent the ‘mysterious disease’ outbreak in Kuala Koh, Gua Musang, Kelantan, from recurring.

Its chairman, Tijah Yok Chopil, said the call was made following the fact that many Orang Asli settlements in Peninsular Malaysia still rely on water resources from rivers and water catchments areas from forests, the quality of which cannot be ascertained.

“A study on the quality of water resource should be made at least once every six months because many Orang Asli villages depend on water sources from the forest. Logging and mining activities in the forest have contaminated the water.

‘So far, I do not think any studies have been conducted on drinking water sources or the usage by the Orang Asli in any village, even if the village is using a well,” he told Bernama.

He said this when commenting on the recent outbreak of a ‘mysterious disease’ among the Batek Orang Asli community at Kampung Kuala Kroh, recently which claimed 14 lives.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Senator P. Waytha Moorthy said two of the 14 deaths reported in Kuala Koh in the past month was due to pneumonia.

Commenting further, Tijah said the matter should be taken seriously as it was a rare incident which took place within a short-period and involved many victims.

“Why are villagers getting tuberculosis and pneumonia suddenly, what is the cause? Several studies have to be carried out accurately and don’t be too quick in giving statements,” he said.

Tijah had earlier admitted, there were deaths almost every month in several Orang Asli settlements believed due to cancer, however, he feared the cause of death actually stemmed from contaminated water resources. — Bernama