Joint Media Statement by Center For Orang Asli Concerns, Raleigh International Kuala Lumpur and Impian Malaysia

[For enquiries, we can be contacted at [email protected] or Shankar Loganathan (+60 17- 375 5420) and Lili +60 11-1597 2878, our campaign director of Tabung Covid 19 Orang Asli (TaC-OA)] 

Urgent Appeal to Assist the Orang Asli Community 

In an attempt to curb the spread of the Covid-19 Virus, the Movement Control Order (MCO) was announced on 18 March 2020. It was to take effect for 2 weeks, but has since been extended twice now until 28 April 2020. We must seriously consider the possibility of further extensions. 

The MCO has severely affected the livelihoods of the Orang Asli, including those who are daily-wage workers, subsistence farmers, rubber and oil palm smallholders, disabled, elderly, and the youth as well. 

They are invariably not able to sell their produce or have lost their income sources. Not only has their food security been impacted, the on-going situation has severely restricted their access to other necessities such as medical supplies. 

On 30 March 2020, the Center for Orang Asli Concerns (COAC), Raleigh International Kuala Lumpur (RIKL) and Impian Malaysia (IM) urgently launched the TABUNG Covid-19 ORANG ASLI (also known as The Covid-19 Orang Asli Fund or TaC-OA). The aim was to raise funds to provide food and other essential needs (face masks, sanitisers and other forms of emergency assistance) to the Orang Asli communities. 

Due to the restrictions of the MCO, and the closure of all Orang Asli villages to outsiders, we had to consider ways to get aid to the communities in a direct and swift manner with the fewest logistical issues possible. 

In most other food aid operations, the aid is allocated per family. This assumes that each family is of the same size and composition, and has the same standard needs. There is usually also a list of families or households which guides the aid-givers as to the number of aid packages each village needs. Invariably, this list is not up-to-date and it is not uncommon to have several families left out. 

Our campaign’s modus operandi is different, but it’s simple and more effective: 

Through our network of Local Coordinators, we contacted Orang Asli communities who needed help. They submitted basic demographic information of their communities and some background regarding their situation. Through wide publicity by word of mouth, local chat groups and social media, more and more Orang Asli communities got to know about the Fund, and applied for aid directly. 

Working from the COAC base in Subang Jaya, our Orang Asli coordinators – Lili, Faezza and Dayong – assess each application on its merits, and work through a Local Coordinator from each community, whose reliability and credibility has been vouched for. The Local Coordinators submit the required demographic information and details for the bank transfer and once the funds have transferred to them, they arrange for the purchase, delivery and distribution of the aid to all members of their community. They have free rein to decide on the nature and specific quantities of the items to be purchased. 

We believe and trust that the Orang Asli know their community’s needs best, and that they will carry out their responsibility in a way that brings benefit to all in their community, no matter how small the aid. 

The purchases are made from local grocery stores or supermarkets, thereby keeping within the regulations of the MCO and also that of JAKOA’s closure of Orang Asli villages to outsiders. 

Using this system, food can be in the kitchens of families within two or three days of a community approaching us. 

To date, we have received donations of RM297,933.44. From that, we have disbursed RM267,550 to assist 5,013 households, reaching a population of 25,467 people

These households are located in 126 villages across 7 states in the peninsular. 

When we embarked on this fundraising campaign, we had a certain number of communities in mind, knowing that they will be worst hit by this difficult situation. But as we progressed, we were inundated by more and more urgent appeals for help. On top of that, we received information from some communities that the aid from the government had yet to reach them or, if they did, did not reach all families in the village. For example, in Kampung Tual in Pahang, we received information that aid was distributed to only 65 households when there are in fact 136 households in this village. 

In addition to the 853 registered Orang Asli villages, there are at least 126 more ‘additional’ villages that are not registered with the Department of Orang Asli Development (JAKOA). The government aid did not cover the unregistered group, although it has said that these additional 5,000 families will be assisted in Phase 2 of aid operations. 

This is why it is so important that we continue to reach out and support these communities, especially those who have been overlooked. In fact, even when the MCO ends and life returns to ‘normal’, their lives will continue to be hard-fraught and difficult for some time. 

Many may need other forms of assistance to rebuild their livelihoods and we are expecting to channel more aid to them to help them get back on their feet. 

Therefore, we humbly appeal to your generosity and kindness to lend a hand to the Orang Asli – a community which is too often overlooked and marginalised. 

We welcome contributions from both individuals as well as from the corporate sector. We would very much appreciate a commitment, particularly from corporations, to channel aid to the Orang Asli community on a longer-term basis, as that could contribute to initiatives aimed at empowering them in rebuilding their lives. 

We would also like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of our generous donors over the last 3 weeks. Please take care, stay home and stay safe. 

Food aid being distributed to the communities through boat by local coordinators at Kampung Malela, Gerik, Perak 

Food aid lined up ready to be distibuted to villagers at Kampung Tisong, Sungkai, Perak 

Food aid recipients at Kampung Sedohok, Johor 

Food aid being organised to individual packs by local village volunteers in Kampung Angkek, Kelantan 

Villagers queuing to receive food aid while observing social distancing in Kampung Sungai Mai, Pahang 

For more information on the TaC-OA fundraising campaign, you can view our live Donation and Disbursement tracker and read our Campaign FAQ at http://www.raleighinternational.org.my/news/news-and-events/118 

Donate here: https://tinyurl.com/ql5h5h3 

Bank Name: CIMB Bank Account Name: Pertubuhan Raleigh International Kuala Lumpur Account Number: 8001067937 

Read more updates from: Center for Orang Asli Concerns: https://www.facebook.com/centerfororangasliconcerns/ Raleigh Kuala Lumpur: https://www.facebook.com/RaleighKL/ Impian Malaysia: https://www.facebook.com/ImpianMalaysia/ 

If you have any enquiries, we can be contacted at [email protected] or Shankar Loganathan (+60 17-375 5420) and Lili +60 11-1597 2878, our campaign director of Tabung Covid 19 Orang Asli (TaC-OA).

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