TELUPID: The United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (UPKO) has called on the government to issue a white paper on the deaths of members of the Batek Orang Asli tribe in Kelantan.
White papers are government reports on giving information or proposals on a particular issue.
Upko president Datuk Seri Wilfred Madius Tangau said there had been many reports from different sources related to the deaths in Gua Musang, Kelantan.
He said Upko also wanted to know whether the rights of the Orang Asli had been violated.
“We are concerned about what is happening to them,” he said.
“Some reports said there are 14 deaths, with some of the bodies exhumed for autopsies.
“Upko would like to call for a white paper to explain what happened.
“Why did they fall sick and die? Was there any connection between development and the case?” he said during Upko’s Kaamatan 2019 event here.
Fourteen Orang Asli deaths were reported to have taken place in the past month, with two bodies examined by the authorities and determined to have died of pneumonia.
The authorities are still trying to ascertain the cause of death of the rest.
Wilfred, who is also Sabah deputy chief minister, said the Batek tribe was a special community that must be understood first before any development plans were carried out for them.
Wilfred said the state government would organise an Orang Asal Day celebration in Penampang this year to raise awareness on their rights as enshrined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.