A new body should be set up rather than abolish the Orang Asli Affairs department to facilitate transformation of the Orang Asli community by 2020, the Senate was told yesterday.
Senator Muhammad Olian Abdullah said the new body should be responsible in assisting to increase equity holding among others and prevent the community from being left out in the government’s initiative to achieve high-income nation status.
“It is better that the department’s role be enhanced and its functions overhauled to effectively bring about development for the community,” he said while debating the Supply Bill 2012 at the Dewan Negara yesterday.
Yesterday, Senator Dr S. Ramakrishnan in interrupting Senator Abdul Rahman Bakar during his debate, had said the department had failed to carry out its functions and proposed that it be abolished.
He said there were presently 139,193 Orang Asli with more than 50 per cent of them living in poverty. Of their 852 villages, 327 or 31 per cent were in the interior, 516 or 61 per cent in the outskirts and only six villages or one percent were in the urban areas, he said.
Muhammad Olian said lack of education was another issue that beset the community, where the number of dropouts was still high and needed serious attention.
He further proposed that the government build hostels for the students as being done by Felda for its settlers’ children.