By Fatih Hassan Nordin
CAMERON HIGHLANDS, Jan 12, 2017: The millions allocated by the Federal Government for rebuilding key roads into rural Orang Asli villages seem to have come up empty, as the roads remain a muddy mess even after 5 years.
A visit by Impian Malaysia and Roketkini found that the 29km long road between Pos Betau and Post Lenjang was riddled with holes, puddles, and mud, while any stretch of road that had been tarred previously were in bad shape.
In 2011, Umno mouthpiece Utusan had reported that the government allocated RM19 million to build tarred roads connecting 14 villages in the area. It also reported that RM6 million had been allocated to upgrade 15km of roads in Pos Lenjang.
And, despite the RM25 million already allocated, last August saw Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak announcing that RM15 million more would be allocated for new roads from Pos Betau to Pos Lenjang.
The condition of the roads as witnessed by Roketkini then begs the question: Where did all those millions go?
Bad roads a threat to safety and security of villagers
According to the Tok Batin of Kampung Dayok, Kamal Bah Lepin, the terrible condition of the roads will endanger the almost 4,000 villagers in the Pos Lenjang area in emergency situations.
“If there is an emergency, what will we do? Who should be blamed for the roads being in that condition? The government, or the Orang Asli?” he told Roketkini.
He said, the Orang Asli do not ask for good roads for the benefit of the villagers here, but also for the benefit of the schools and clinics here.
“The schools and clinics will also be badly affected, it is not only for us, but for the government too — there are schools here. Why do they say that the roads are only for the Orang Asli? When they say that it is as if our requests are being mocked,” he said.
Kamal, who is from the Semai tribe said, the government has three years left to Vision 2020 but the infrastructure development of the rural areas are left far behind.
“The government says it wants to fulfil Vision 2020 of a developed country, with high income, but why are the Orang Asli still like this?” he added.
Meanwhile, Serdang MP Dr Ong Kian Ming, who also visited the villages, said he will bring the issue to Parliament in the next sitting.
“However, tens of millions have been spent on these roads. Yet I see these roads are not even proper roads, you can travel on it using a four-wheeled drive vehicle but the journey is extremely uncomfortable,” he added.