KUALA LUMPUR, April 9 — Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob today said that RM5 million worth of food items have been channelled to Orang Asli families nationwide, with each head of family receiving a food basket.
In a press conference today, Ismail rebutted claims that the Orang Asli are being overlooked, adding that food aid has been distributed since the movement control order (MCO) was enforced through the Department of Orang Asli Development (Jakoa).
“I am happy to announce that Jakoa has distributed the food basket aid to the Orang Asli communities, since the MCO was enforced,” he said.
“The aid during the first phase of between April 2 and April 10 were distributed to 49,670 household heads in 853 Orang Asli villages, worth RM5 million.
“The second phase of the aid will begin on April 10, with additional recipients of 55,000 households heads, involving an allocation of RM6 million,” he said, adding that the aid is also targeted at families who adopt the nomad lifestyle, and live in other villages.
Ismail claimed that the government did not marginalise the Orang Asli community, following criticisms from some in the public.
Jakoa director-general Juli Edo was earlier today reported saying that the Orang Asli communities across the country are facing restricted access to aid during the MCO.
He reportedly said that the lack of manpower and large number of households needing assistance is stretching Jakoa’s resources and ability to deliver food to the needy.
He added that Jakoa has no choice but to provide aid to those in need, in stages.
He said tribes in Perak, Pahang and Kelantan are struggling to buy food as they are predominantly daily wage earners and living from hand to mouth.
The location of their living quarters, especially those deep in the interiors of Gua Musang in Kelantan, Kuala Lipis in Pahang and Grik and Banding in Perak, adds another element of difficulty in reaching them due to the undulating terrain.