KUALA LUMPUR: Members of the orang asli community in Kuala Koh, Gua Musang, were in a state of panic, stress and fear due to an unknown disease that they decided to bury their dead relatives according to their customs and not to report the incidents to the authority.
Orang Asli Development Department (JAKOA) director-general Prof Dr Juli Edo said that it was also coupled with the absence of communication due to their remote location deep within the jungle near the Taman Negara on the border of Kelantan and Pahang when they migrated.
“What happened in Kuala Koh was there were two deaths in one day as well their remote location, then they were panicked and afraid of the unknown illness, so they believed that they have to bury the bodies quickly to prevent the disease from spreading.
“Based on the orang asli’s normal practices, when their relatives died, they would bury the bodies just like that but now they are required to report to the authorities (in the event of death within the community) and if they fail to report the incident, then they commit an offence, that is our law,“ he said when contacted by Bernama.
Juli said this when asked to comment on recent media reports pertaining to the Batek tribe in Kampung Kuala Koh that was hit by mysterious illness resulting in a number of deaths.
According to the community there were 14 deaths with the victims being buried by villagers according to their customs, but the police only confirmed reports on two deaths thus far.
Commenting on their way of life, Juli said the Batek tribe practised nomadic life for generations.
The Batek tribe belonged to the Negrito group and could be found in Pahang, Kelantan and Terengganu, said Juli, of the Semai tribe.
He said there were three main factors that would cause the Batek community to move from one place to another, namely, food sources, disease and visiting relatives to attend a feast that required them to stay in certain areas for an extended period of time. — Bernama