We will protect Orang Asli women from exploitation if report is true, says Wan Azizah

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail interacts with participants during Parents’ Day celebrations in Serdang July 13, 2019. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail interacts with participants during Parents’ Day celebrations in Serdang July 13, 2019. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

SERDANG, July 13 — The authorities are following up on a report by Malay daily Berita Harian published today that claimed Orang Asli women were being exploited by their foreign spouses for their government benefits, said Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.

Speaking to the press today, the deputy prime minister said following the report, she had made inquiries with the relevant agencies and departments who are responsible for Orang Asli welfare.

“I have asked the agencies and departments involved and was told that this was a matter that requires investigation.

“Marriages between Orang Asli (women) and foreigners are approved by the (tribe’s) tok batin and if she is not Muslim, (determined by) customary rights.

“But we will look into this issue because we don’t want any of our women, even if they are not Orang Asli, to be exploited,” said Dr Wan Azizah.

It was reported today that an increasing number of susceptible Orang Asli women have fallen for foreign men who marry them as a way to gain quick and easy access to federal financial aid intended to uplift the indigenous community.

It was also reported that such foreigners exploit their marital ties for business licences to farm the land owned by these Orang Asli, but abandon their wives and children after reaping the benefits — resulting in the cycle of socio-economic dilemma for one of the country’s most marginalised groups.

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