The Temiar Situation in Kuala Betis
Published: 19 January 2015
Two more days of heli-visits were done by the UNITED SIKHS group with collaboration and coordination with JOAS-COAC and the local ground committee. For these two days (15-16 January), 8 teams of doctors and volunteers were also helicoptered in to the interior settlements of Gua Musang to provide medical aid and supplies. The doctors were from the Citizens Disaster Navigation Centre and as individuals.
Over the two days, 11 villages received the medical teams, while another 3 were given food aid. One young boy from Kampung Jader was also medivac-ed out to Gua Musang hospital with his father. He was suffering from late-stage blood poisoning in his leg (cellulitis) which would have surely resulted in death if proper treatment was not timely.
Alas, for another 15-month child in Kampung Perawas-Pos Balar, the medical aid came too late. He died of severe diarrhea 3 days earlier.
Over the two days , the medical teams attended to, or treated, at least 1,000 Temiars, both young and old. Main illnesses were fevers, severe coughs, rashes, diarrhea and other water-borne diseases.
While we were doing the heli-flights on Thursday, a second helicopter also hovered around. We later found out that the Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim, was doing his rounds. The first senior politician to do so. As we returned to our base in Kampung Parik, we found out that he had just dropped in and got a first-hand account of the situation in the area.
We were told that he was not too happy with the response of the authorities, including JAKOA, and promised action.
His apparent claim that the authorities were delivering food that day to the interior areas by helicopter was however not true. It was the helicopter sent in by UNITED SIKHS with the medical teams. He did promise however that the military would make food drops soon.
During the day also, we were getting a LOT of calls asking us to help some groups of Orang Asli who had been stranded for months without food and were starving as their areas were still inaccessible. Some of these areas, it turned out, were visited by our heli-visits, one as many as three times (the third being a medical visit).
In the list of 'desperate' and inaccessible villages that was being circulated online, were also villages accessible by 4WDs and in the neighborhood of food-collection centres.
This, however, is not to suggest that the food shortage problem in the interiors of Gua Musang is not severe or does not need greater attention.
Improving road access
Several Temiar communities in the interior are now able to reach Kuala Betis by road, especially on motorbikes. This includes the faraway villages in Pos Belatim and Pos Simpor. They still need a whole day of travelling, though.
The Elite 4x4 Search & Rescue SQUAD/Malaysia Elite Disaster Rescue Foundation (MEDRF) have been successful in building and repairing key bridges that makes access by road possible. Click on this link for more details and images: http://on.fb.me/1yD9EcT
The loggers have also been using their heavy machinery to repair stretches of the road that have been destroyed by landslides (no doubt with their own interests in mind).
The local JOAS action committee has taken upon itself to set up a food store closer to the Perias River, allowing those coming in from the interior on motorbikes to pick up their food supplies. But we are getting reports that the number of people coming out and requiring food aid is increasing and more food supplies are needed.
It is clear that the long-term solution to the problem of food shortages in the interior areas can only be solved if road communication is back to how it was before the floods at least. Then also, will the children be able to go to school and access to medical help would not be a constant worry.
This is the 'next stage' that is already needing action now.
CN-COAC | 19 January 2015
What the Minister wrote in the 'visitor's book' in Kampung Parik.
The 1st day's medical team on their way back after 'rescuing' a left-behind team.