Fi­nan­cial aid for orang asli

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - DAULAT TUANKU SULTAN JOHOR - By KATh­LeeN ANN KILI kili@ thes­tar. com. my

We have a wide range of ini­tia­tives spe­cially drawn up to help the orang asli com­mu­nity.

– AsIAh MD ArIFF

JO­HOR has been de­vel­op­ing at a fast pace, with more and more for­eign in­vest­ments and com­mence­ment of mega projects such as For­est City, the Re­fin­ery and Petro­chem­i­cals In­te­grated De­vel­op­ment ( RAPID) pro­ject and the Malaysia- Sin­ga­pore Rapid Tran­sit Sys­tem.

Al­though the state may be fac­ing ma­jor changes to its land­scape, the state govern­ment has been look­ing out for lo­cals, in­clud­ing the orang asli at ru­ral ar­eas, to en­sure that they are not side­lined as pro­gres­sion takes its course.

The orang asli com­mu­nity in Jo­hor is said to be one of the big­gest in the coun­try, with over 18,000 orang asli re­sid­ing in 60 vil­lages around the state.

Jo­hor Women and Fam­ily Affairs com­mit­tee chair­man Asiah Md Ariff said that the state govern­ment has al­ways place im­por­tance on the wel­fare of the orang asli, as em­pha­sised by Jo­hor ruler Sul­tan Ibrahim ibni Al­marhum Sul­tan Iskan­dar.

“We have a wide range of ini­tia­tives spe­cially drawn up to help the orang asli com­mu­nity, in terms of education, econ­omy and phys­i­cal aid,” she added.

She said that the state govern­ment has al­lo­cated some RM2.3mil for school trans­porta­tion for some 2,528 orang asli chil­dren in ru­ral ar­eas this year.

“Some 1,378 orang asli chil­dren are also pro­vided with RM2 pocket money each day, amount­ing to over RM321,000 a year and we pro­vide school uni­forms for them.

“Be­sides those, we have also chan­nelled over RM265,000 for var­i­ous fees for a to­tal of 2,528 stu­dents,” she added.

Asiah ex­plained that board­ing school fees cost about RM800 each stu­dent, board­ing fees ( RM300 each), sec­ondary school fees ( RM120 each) and pri­mary school fees ( RM80 each).

She also said that the aid does not end with sec­ondary education as those keen on ac­quir­ing a ter­tiary education could ap­ply for a schol­ar­ship un­der spe­cial funds for the orang asli.

“We of­fer up to RM6,500 for the ap­pli­cants do­ing their de­gree ( first and se­cond year) while those do­ing their diploma can get RM5,000 per year.

“We also pro­vide schol­ar­ship of RM3,000 and RM3,500 for ma­tric­u­la­tion or pre- diploma re­spec­tively,” she said.

Apart from education, Asiah said that the state govern­ment had also con­structed some 75 homes for the orang asli com­ing up to over RM2.7mil in al­lo­ca­tions and some RM583,000 was chan­nelled to 55 fam­i­lies for re­pair works for their homes last year.

“We have also looked into build­ing more road in­fra­struc­ture and other ba­sic ameni­ties be­sides en­sur­ing elec­tric­ity and clean wa­ter sup­ply in the vil­lages.”

In terms of eco­nomic progress for the orang asli, Asiah said that the state govern­ment had in­cluded an al­lo­ca­tion of RM220,000 for an in­come raise for 24 orang asli last year.

“The com­mu­nity also re­ceives monthly div­i­dends through oil palm plan­ta­tion by Felcra as well as re­plan­ta­tion of rubber and oil palm through Rubber In­dus­try Small­hold­ers De­vel­op­ment Au­thor­ity ( Risda),” she said, adding that they also re­ceive en­trepreneur­ship and agri­cul­ture in­put aid.

Sul­tan Ibrahim had di­rected the state govern­ment to re­view the log­ging con­ces­sion­aires and, if nec­es­sary, stop all log­ging ac­tiv­i­ties and re­frain from award­ing state land to in­di­vid­u­als.

“For­est re­serves must be main­tained and not used for agri­cul­tural- re­lated ac­tiv­i­ties and should be kept for the liveli­hood of the orang asli,” said the Sul­tan.

In a Face­book post on his of­fi­cial page, Sul­tan Ibrahim had posted that he had fos­tered close ties with the orang asli be­fore he as­cended the throne.

He said that his father Al­marhum Sul­tan Iskan­dar had of­ten brought him, who was then the Tunku Mahkota Jo­hor, to the orang asli’s vil­lages in Jo­hor dur­ing of­fi­cial vis­its.

In his post, Sul­tan Ibrahim’s un­cle, Ungku Yu­soff Ungku Ab­dul Rah­man, had said that Sul­tan Ibrahim un­til now re­mains close to the orang asli in Jo­hor and also with his sub­jects from all walks of life.

“To­day, we see the rakyat ( peo­ple) lov­ing Sul­tan Ibrahim be­cause of Tuanku’s car­ing and re­spon­si­ble char­ac­ter,” Ungku Yu­soff was quoted as say­ing.

Kam­pung Sim­pang Arang fish­er­men head Tan Kim Tong said that the com­mu­nity al­ways look up and re­spect the Sul­tan for not ne­glect­ing them and en­sur­ing that de­vel­op­ments tak­ing place did not af­fect their liveli­hood.

De­scrib­ing him as a friendly and lov­able Ruler, Tan said that he had the hon­our of meet­ing the Sul­tan dur­ing his visit to the kam­pung, who was then the Tunku Mahkota Jo­hor.

“I did not get to shake his hand as ev­ery­one was crowd­ing around him when he vis­ited some 10 years ago. I hope he drops by again some­day soon,” he said.

Tan said that mas­sive de­vel­op­ments such as the Port Tan­jung Pelepas and cur­rently the For­est City projects had been tak­ing place around the vil­lage, but the vil­lage is still kept in­tact.

“I am glad that the Sul­tan stands up for us and helps to en­sure that our liveli­hood is pro­tected,” he added.

Orang asli chil­dren rac­ing down a jetty at sun­gai Danga in Jo­hor. Their fam­i­lies and oth­ers in the area de­pend largely on fish­ing and mus­sel farm­ing for a liveli­hood. — Ken­neth Wong/ The star

The then Tunku Mahkota of Jo­hor Tunku Ibrahim Is­mail sul­tan Iskan­dar pre­sent­ing food and medicine do­nated by IJM Cor­po­ra­tion to Kam­pung Air Tawas orang asli set­tle­ment head Batin Menggek Achai ( right) in May 2007 while IJM chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Datuk Kr­ish­nan Tan ( cen­tre) looks on.

The Orang sele­tar chil­dren play­ing around with tra­di­tional hats at their cul­tural cen­tre at Kam­pung sun­gai Te­mon here in Jo­hor Baru. Th­ese chil­dren can look for­ward to brighter days with govern­ment aid. — Ab­dul rah­man Embong/ The star.

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