The plight of our Orang Asli

After the recent Chrism Mass at St Thomas Church, I decided to look up a friend in Kuantan. I stayed with her family for a couple of days.

Apr 21, 2017

Dear Editor,
After the recent Chrism Mass at St Thomas Church, I decided to look up a friend in Kuantan. I stayed with her family for a couple of days. Since she is very much involved with the orang asli, she drove me many miles to visit some of the settlements to help the people claim their BRIM entitlement and also distributed food stuff to the refugees along the way.

When we arrived at Rompin, I discovered that many people today are still living in the slums. As we walked into the settlement, we had to pass through huge amounts of trash on both sides of the road.

We met a couple collecting items from the trash for recycling. The smell made my head ache for a few days. My friend, equipped with her “smart phone,” checked her friend’s BRIM entitlement which had already been credited into his account. At the bank, we discovered that it had already been withdrawn. The poor man had to make a police report to pursue the case. but he declined (probably due to the inconveniences involved).

The next day, we went to another village about three miles away from Kuantan town. Here, the people are more fortunate. They have proper housing equipped with the basic amenities like water and electricity. Some have small sustaining businesses. There was a burger stall and a mini market operating from their houses.

The luckier ones had been given small plots of land for a fee. We met the wife of a mechanic whose husband had studied at Montfort. He is now working in the jungle. Since he has been given a 0.8 hectare of land by the roadside, he intends to start a workshop but he needs funds to build it. It is in a flood prone area and he will require a draughtsman to do the proper planning and designing before building.

I then met an orang asli girl who had finished her SPM and is now under the guardianship of my friend (thanks to her generosity). She applied for nursing at Assunta but was rejected due to her low grade in English. However, she will resit the examination sometime later this year and is looking for a suitable job in the meantime.

The way I see my friend working with the orang asli, it is no easy task. It is like she is rowing a boat with her bare hands.

So, where and who can these needy people turn to for help?

Christy Loh
Via Email

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