Orang asli still need help

PEKAN - While flood victims are busy cleaning up and rebuilding their lives, the orang asli community in two villages here are struggling to get by with whatever they have.

Fifty-six families in Kampung Pecah Batteri and 80 households in Kampung Tanah Merah still do not have clean water, food and other basic necessities.

Most of them depend on the forests, collecting fruits, petai and natural herbs to sustain themselves.

Their plight came to the attention of the Pahang Crisis Relief Squad of MCA (CRSM) and several church groups, prompting them to pay the villagers a visit yesterday.

The convoy of five four-wheel drive vehicles and two vans ploughed through the narrow laterite road during their two-hour drive from Kuantan.

They brought along food, mattresses, pillows, blankets, slippers and medical supplies.

Led by state CRSM chief Datuk Chang Hong Seong and his wife Datin Koo Mui Ling, the delegation of 34 was mobbed by the villagers who rushed to receive the aid.

Chang said both the villages were inundated with up to 2.5m of water for almost two weeks, forcing them to seek shelter at relief centres.

"There is still no water supply and villagers need to carry water from the nearby hills daily," he said.

Chang said most of the villagers were in good health and high spirits despite the difficulties.

He said only a few were diabetic.

"Their children study at schools located some 8km away," he said.

Villager Mokhtar Sadong said he and the orang asli were grateful for the assistance.

"We received relief aid earlier from the state authorities, but those ran out quickly.

"We hope the relevant authorities will look into our plight and not neglect us.

"The main problem is water supply," Mokhtar said.

One villager, Talib Pong, offered barter trade of forest produce, such as Tongkat Ali, in exchange for relief aid from the convoy.

"We need medicine and the health department teams to come here to check on us," he said.