KUANTAN: Blocking the main road to their settlements, setting up village patrol units, and engaging the People's Volunteer Corps (Rela) to mount roadblocks.
These are among the initiatives taken by the Orang Asli community in Pahang to prevent outsiders from entering their villages in line with the Movement Control Order (MCO) which was implemented to curb the spread of Covid-19.
State Rural Development and Orang Asli Affairs Committee chairman Datuk Abd Aziz Mat Kiram said the Orang Asli had taken proactive measures to prevent outsiders from freely entering their villages.
He said when the MCO was announced, the Orang Asli Development Department (Jakoa) had informed the Tok Batin (headman) of each village on the dos and don'ts on Covid-19 and the MCO, and that they must impart the information to their respective communities.
“I received a few images of the Orang Asli taking preventive measures on their own. At Kampung Pos Buntu (Raub), they had placed long bamboo poles to block the entrance to their settlement; while at Kampung Pos Betau and Pos Senderut (Lipis), Orang Asli People's Volunteer Corps (Rela) teams have been stationed at the main entrance.
"The Orang Asli use materials such as bamboo poles, wood and drums to block the entrance and they have villagers patrolling the area. They are concerned as anglers and outsiders searching for jungle vegetation such as 'petai' (bitter beans) frequently enter their settlements," he said when contacted today.
"The headmen have been informed to immediately inform villagers who are sick to seek treatment at nearby health clinics. Due to the MCO, Jakoa cannot go to the Orang Asli villages, but they have been in contact through phone.
“So far, the Orang Asli can still go out to buy groceries, but their concern is the lack of income since they cannot sell their products, including banana and petai. The MCO has prevented buyers from coming to their villages," he said, adding that Orang Asli with access to handphones and electronic media seem to have a general understanding about Covid-19.
Meanwhile, Jamida Jalong, 50, from the Kampung Bukit Biru Orang Asli settlement in Rompin, said policemen have been regularly patrolling the area and instructing villagers to stay indoors.
"The majority of us understand about the MCO, based on the explanation provided by the village headmen and policemen, but we still need to check on our farms. Since the village is located far from town and we have no contact with outsiders, some of us continue working at the farm," he said.
About 78,000 Orang Asli are living in 262 villages throughout Pahang.