Orang asli gain their first 'Bersih' experience

07 Sep 2015 / 18:18 H.

    GUA MUSANG: While many have perceived the Bersih 4 rally two weeks ago as a Chinese affair with minor Malay and Indian participation, the involvement of the orang asli community seems to have escaped everyone's attention.
    And unlike most rally participants who came from the Klang Valley, these orang asli had to overcome difficult and dire circumstances to make their way to the 34 hour long rally held in the heart of Kuala Lumpur.
    One such rally goer, Salim Tengau, 35, from Kampung Bering in Gua Musang, Kelantan, said going for the rally was a painful decision he had to make.
    "It was a tough decision to make, but my friends and family told me to go and represent them at the rally, to be the voice of the orang asli," he said.
    A week before the rally, on Aug 23, seven children from Sekolah Kebangsaan Pos Tohoi (about a three-hour journey by vehicle from Gua Musang town) disappeared into the thick and dangerous jungle without a trace.
    The disappearance of these children has rocked the nation and more so the community of small, tight-knit villagers in Gua Musang.
    This case had also hit very close to home for Salim as some of the missing children were his nephews and nieces; moreover, he was in the Rela (volunteer) squad dispatched to find them.
    He added that there were about 70 to 100 Orang Asli from Gua Musang who attended the rally that day, but there were many more who wanted to come.
    "If it was not for the disappearance (of the children), many villagers would have come to Kuala Lumpur for the rally," he said.
    Salim said he and the other villagers had to travel on a shoestring budget to get to the rally as many of them do not have jobs or steady income.
    "We didn't know where to stay, we just planned to sleep on the floor somewhere," he said, adding that they finally found refuge at the St John's Cathedral which was open to all rally goers.
    When asked why it was so important that he attend the rally although they were devastated by the news of the missing children, he said: "The orang asli have never had a voice before, we felt that it was time the country heard our voice."


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