KUALA LUMPUR, June 14 — A temporary facility capable of housing 400 people has been set up at the former National Service Training Camp in Etnobotani, Kelantan to house the Batek Orang Asli once they are discharged from hospital.
The facility is necessary to monitor the movement of the former patients while the government investigates the cause of the mysterious outbreak of pneumonia that appears to have afflicted the Orang Asli village in Gua Musang, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said today.
“Initial estimates on the number of people to be placed at the centre are 50,” she said in a statement after her visit to the area that has been designated a health “red zone” and closed off to the public.
At the same time, Dr Wan Azizah, who is in charge of the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry, gave her assurance that the government has taken other welfare aspects of the other Orang Asli villagers into consideration.
Aside from health education, she said the villagers and workers at the nearby mine are being offered counselling to ease their stress and anxiety in the face of the unknown cause for the outbreak.
She said the public is welcome to donate essential items to the affected villagers to ease their burden, but reminded them that access into the area is restricted.
“The government understands the concerns of the people and NGO in handing out assistance to ease the burden of the Orang Asli family, but the public are not allowed to distribute the aid themselves, therefore the government will help assist in channeling the aid,” she said.
Those interested can send items like food supplies, mineral water, hygiene kits, blankets, slippers, and nail clippers to the public helpline collection centre, Felda Aring 10 control centre, or the Gua Musang Social Welfare Department for the government to distribute to the villagers.
Dr Wan Azizah also reiterated the assurances from the Department of Environment and the Chemistry Department that the raw water collected from the Aring 10 manganese mine 3km away from the Orang Asli village fulfilled the national standards, adding that water storage facilities in the village had not been polluted by any waste or harmful mining by-product.
She said the authorities have found eight of the 12 scattered graves of the Batek Orang Asli who recently died and will be recovering them for a post-mortem examination to find out their causes of death.
Also present at the visit were Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department P. Waytha Moorthy and Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar.
Those interested to provide help can also contact Nor Hidayah Kamarulzaman (Civil Defence Force) at 011 2934 3409; or Hizani Ibrahim (Welfare Department) at 019-286 9588 / 09-9120-140.