THE tragedy involving the Batek Orang Asli community in Kuala Koh, Kelantan, where 15 Bateks died, has blemished the image of Malaysia.
The state and federal governments want to bring the orang asli to the mainstream, oblivious to their culture and lifestyle. Our parliamentarians must debate on their fate.
They really need help with vocal pragmatic and committed leaders, who can steer them to new heights. I have been to Taman Negara, Pahang 33 times, climbed Gunung Tahan five times and used the Batek as guides. They always complain of maltreatment. One example, in schools they are shunned and isolated and as a result attrition among orang asli students are the highest.
Also, they were guides in Taman Negara, Pahang, their homeland. Their jobs have been taken over. They really need help in the form of “special education, versatile syllabus and motivated teachers”, to give them a level starting point. Only superficial help is being given to them. If someone or an NGO applies for a grant to assist the orang asli, the Jabatan Orang Asli gets agitated. Major alignment issues prevail as the objectives to make the orang asli succeed are obsolete.
Our strategic diversity alignments in nation building and human capital development have been myopic. Education, acceptable to the real world is paramount. It has to be dynamic, headed by dedicated and competent professionals. We need to look at diverse regions and adopt best practices.
Lets not wait for another tragedy to help this impoverished and forgotten community.