Trapped at Kampong Orang Asli Semoi Lama on New Year’s Eve together with MP for Bentong Wong Tack, State Assemblyman for Tanah Rata Chiong Yoke Kong, former PH Candidate for Cameron Highlands M. Manogaram, cutting from all access to the outside world, is my first experience which illustrates the failures of BN policies on upliftment of Orang Asli in last six decade. I have just come out from my visits to the Orang Asli settlements in Cameron Highlands since Saturday.
My visit, which was planned to end yesterday, could not go as planned as together with Pakatan Harapan MP for Bentong Wong Tack, PH Pahang State Assemblyman for Tanah Rata Chiong Yoke Kong, and former PH Candidate for Cameron Highlands M. Manogaram, and a convey of 12 vehicles, I was trapped to spend 2019 New Year’s Eve at Kampong Orang Asli Semoi Lama, cut off from all access to the outside world. This was my first experience in 77 years at being trapped at a place, cut off from all access to the outside world, which is particularly poignant in an age of instant communications where information travels at the speed of light. Having to cross the river at Kampong Semoi Lama by driving through it despite its strong currents to reach Orang Asli kampongs in Pos Lenyang and Pos Titom is also an unforgettable experience.
These unanticipated experiences are most invaluable one, as they illustrate vividly the failures of the UMNO/Barisan Nasional government in the upliftment of the Orang Asli people, the first inhabitants in the country, after six decades of federal responsibility. It is a symbol that after six decades, the majority of Orang Asli communities are still cut off from the outside world when they should have already been brought into the mainstream of national development. My being trapped with Bentong MP, Tanah Rata Assemblyman, the former Pakatan Harapan candidate for Cameron Highlands, and a convoy of 12 vehicles, at Kampong Orang Asli Semoi Lama should bring the shocking plight and position of the Orang Ali after six decades of nation-building to the forefront of the Cameron Highlands by-election campaign, as it is time to wipe out Orang Asli poverty, backwardness and isolation after six decades of nation-building.
In the Cameron Highlands election in the 14th General Election, some 80% of the Orang Asli voters voted for the MIC/BN candidate and 20% of the Orang Asli votes for Manogaran and Pakatan Harapan. The time has come for “Reformasi Orang Asli”, and we should aim to reverse the voting trend whereby in the by-election we can get some 80% of the Orang Asli voters to vote for Pakatan Harapan with only 20% going to Barisan Nasional. Can this be done? If this historic result could be produced during the Cameron Highlands by-election, it will mean that at last the Orang Asli in Malaysia have stood up for their rights as full citizens in Malaysia, with all this means in politics, economics, education, health-care, job opportunities, housing and land. This is why I have proposed the holding of a National Orang Asli Conference in Cameron Highlands this month to discuss and formulate a blueprint for Orang Asli upliftment in the New Malaysia of Pakatan Harapan.
If such a National Orang Asli Conference could be held in Cameron Highlands, it would also mean that the Orang Asli in Cameron Highlands who had bravely stood up for the country by being witnesses of truth, justice and democracy against bribery, money-politics and voter-threats in the Cameron Highlands election case, will again create history by spearheading a Reformasi Orang Asli in Malaysia.