SUNGAI SIPUT, July 11 — Previously, as communal leaders, Tok Batins are entrusted with the responsibility to guide and facilitate solutions related to customs and traditions, development, economy, education, health for the wellbeing of the Orang Asli community.
However as time changes and with the Covid-19 pandemic now, their role has been expanded to include taking the lead to get the community vaccinated and convincing those who are hesitant due to fears and misconception.
For this purpose, 40 Tok Batins in Perak, were recently selected to be the first to be vaccinated in their villages to convey to their communities the true benefit and encourage them to get the vaccine.
The group who received the first dose of the vaccine at the Sungai Siput Orang Asli One Stop Centre (OAOSC) mobile PPV located some 50km from Ipoh, came dressed in their traditional costumes.
One of the leaders, Tok Nasiri from Kampung Pisang, Jalong, here said, the first challenge for him is to dispel the myths about the vaccine as some of his community members have been influenced by the negative feedback being spread on social media.
"As their Tok Batin, I will advise and convince them to register for the vaccine immediately as the vaccine is to protect them, their families and the community from Covid-19," he told Bernama.
Meanwhile, Kampung Manggis Pesium Tok Batin, Alang Pandak, 66, said he would try to persuade a few of the community members first, by telling the benefits of the vaccine, so that they would set the example once they are vaccinated.
"I will also tell them my vaccination experience and convince them that the negative news they had read on social media are false and are only out to frighten them.
“Actually most of the villagers here who are from the Temiar tribe have accepted the vaccine and are just waiting for the programme to come to our area.
He said they are anxiously waiting for their turn as the community would like to see a reduction in Covid-19 cases.
“We have a hall here and we hope the government would utilise it as a moblile PPV as there are people with disabilities here too,” he added.
Meanwhile, Pos Poi Tok Batin, Eley Busu, 53, said he hoped a mobile PPV could be located closer to his area as the distance to the OAOSC mobile PPV from his village is about 30 km of muddy trail.
"Perhaps after this those involved in the vaccination programme could come over to the Orang Asli settlements that are far in the interior, for example Pos Kuala Mu which is 40 km from this PPV apart from Pos Poi which is 30 km away,” he added. — Bernama