The announcement by the Minister for Rural and Regional Development, Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob that the Orang Asli Development Department (Jakoa) will provide transportation services for 16,905 Orang Asli pupils at 94 primary schools with hostels nationwide to enable them to return home every fortnight is most laughable and grossly inadequate as a proper government response to the scandal and tragedy of the SK Tohoi seven missing Orang Asli children for seven weeks five of whom had perished.
What the country wants is not just a new transportation service to Orang Asli pupils in school hostels to go home once a fortnight but a complete review of the 58-year government programme to bring Orang Asli communities to the mainstream of national development (which is clearly an abysmal failure) and a total revamp of government services to uplift Orang Asli in all fields of human endeavour.
Why for instance, after 58 years of upliftment of Orang Asli in the country, there is not a single Orang Asli who is a Minister or even a Deputy Minister in the Federal Government, or members on State Excos in the various states with significant Orang Asli communities?
Let the Minister for Rural and Regional Development announce in Parliament on Monday on behalf of the Najib Cabinet a “New Deal for Orang Asli” in the emergency debate requisitioned by DAP MP for Sepueh Teresa Kok on the aftermath of the scandal and tragedy of the SK Tohoi seven missing Orang Asli children in Gua Musang.
For a start, Sabri should announce in Parliament a major revamp of Orang Asli services which would involve the appointment within 30 days of an Orang Asli to head JAKOA – for it is a crying shame and a terrible indictment of the government’s efforts to uplift Orang Asli community that after 58 years, the government is unable to appoint an Orang Asli to be head of JAKOA.
What is urgently needed in a “New Deal for Orang Asli” is not just the appointment of an Orang Asli to head JAKOA, but the revamp of the civil service with the appointment and promotion of Orang Asli public servants to important posts in the civil service, covering the entire public service not just areas concerning Orang Asli upliftment.
In this connection, it is time that Sabri explain why his ministry has ignored the Suhakam recommendations pertaining to Orang Asli.
Suhakam acting chairman Datuk Dr. Khaw Lake Tee in a statement yesterday said the social and economic marginalisation of the Orang Asli is caused by the violation of their human rights.
Suhakam regrets that its many recommendations have not been acted upon and as a result, the community continue to face immense challenges, including marginalisation.
Is Sabri capable of answering the Suhakam’s serious charges of government neglect and even negligence of the Orang Asli community in Parliament on Monday?
At least I must commend Sabri for finally visiting Gua Musang and the two surviving Orang Asli school children after more than 50 days of the SK scandal and tragedy, but where is the Education Minister Datuk Mahdzir Khalid?
Can Mahdzir explain to Parliament next week why he is so irresponsible, indifferent and unconcerned about the plight of the seven Orang Asli school children in Gua Musang despite the passage of 50 days?
Is Mahdzir behaving as a responsible Education Minister?