KUALA LUMPUR, July 3 — The country’s first Orang Asli federal lawmaker today called for an inquest into the recent deaths of 14 aborigines from the Batek tribe in Kuala Koh, Kelantan.
Cameron Highlands MP Ramli Mohd Nor said that it was important to have a coroner decide and verify the cause of death, which the Health Ministry has attributed to a measles outbreak within the unvaccinated community.
“So via an inquest, we can confirm if what the minister, the Health Ministry said was indeed true. Let the coroner decide. I recommend and suggest that an inquest be held, so that the people of Malaysia will know the cause of the deaths,” he said in his supplementary question to the Home Ministry.
Deputy Home Minister Datuk Mohd Azis Jamman replied Ramli, saying the suggestion will be considered but the government is still waiting for an official post-mortem report from the pathology department.
“Once we receive the report, we will look at the next course of action to take, and we do not deny the possibility that if there is a need for an inquest, we will look into your suggestion,” Aziz said.
Government laboratory testing on June 15 revealed that 37 people from the same Kelantan village tested positive for measles.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad said the disease — which is usually dealt with through childhood vaccination — spread easily among the Batek people in the village because they had not been inoculated due to their nomadic lifestyle and has low immunity against the virus.
The Gua Musang District Health Office and has since initiated a vaccination programme for the Batek tribe in Kampung Kuala Koh and Kampung Aring 5.