KUALA LUMPUR, June 19 — Putrajaya has no plans to relocate the Batek Orang Asli from their homes in Kampung Kuala Koh, Kelantan, Senator P. Waytha Moorthy said today.
The minister in the Prime Minister’s Department refuted Kelantan Deputy Mentri Besar Datuk Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah who yesterday claimed that the Department of Orang Asli Development (Jakoa) planned to move the Batek tribe out of Kampung Kuala Koh.
“Jakoa never brought up the matter of moving the Orang Asli in Bateq to a new location be it in meetings or through the media.
“I as the minister in charge of the welfare of the Orang Asli categorically deny what YAB Datuk Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah said.
“While the government empathises with their plight, it is illogical to move these people from their natural habitat as they are more comfortable where they are,” Waytha said in a statement.
Waytha said the department is currently building houses for the Orang Asli, adding that 16 have been constructed so far.
He said the department will continue to do so until every family in the village has a new house.
He also said Jakoa will work with the Health Ministry and Kelantan health agencies to provide immunisation shots and vaccines to the Orang Asli, especially children.
The Batek Orang Asli have been infected with measles, a childhood disease that has claimed the lives of 15 villagers to date.
Waytha also announced a gotong-royong and health camp to clean up the village to prevent the measles contagion from spreading and infecting the community whose immune systems are at risk.
“The local community and NGOs are participating in the gotong-royong to clean up the surrounding areas and bring it back to healthy living conditions.
“The health camp will involve lectures and sermons to raise awareness on health, hygiene and how to prevent infectious diseases from spreading in the future.
“In the meantime, Jakoa together with the Kelantan Health Department will provide the Water Supply and Environmental Sanitation Unit (BAKAS) once the area is declared disease free. For now, the Ministry of Water, Land and Natural Resources will provide treated water for the residents,” he said.