- Published on Sunday, 12 January 2014 10:55
PEKAN: THE government has never sidelined the Orang Asli community while carrying out the country's development and transformation agenda, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said.
Stressing that various programmes had been implemented to uplift the living standard of the community, he said the government did not believe in mere "sweet talk" but had a proven track record in helping the indigenous people.
This included providing them with comfortable homes and steady incomes at new settlement schemes or PSK.
Therefore, Najib hopes the Orang Asli community will continue to support the government so that more projects can be implemented for them and their children.
"It is impossible to settle all problems in 50 years but now, the Orang Asli have undergone significant changes, especially those who live in PSKs," he said at the Jalinan Mesra programme with the Orang Asli community in his Pekan constituency at Bangkong PSK in Paloh Hinai, near here, yesterday.
At the function, Najib opened the Bangkong PSK, where more than 500 Orang Asli from 119 families will stay in the RM24 million integrated housing scheme on a 40ha site.
He said the families in Bangkong PSK would earn a steady income as the government had allocated a 250ha oil palm plantation for them.
Each family will receive a minimum monthly dividend of RM400, while those who work at the plantation will earn an extra RM700 monthly.
Najib said the government's focus on improving the education level and skills of the Orang Asli had yielded positive results with more than 300 of them securing places at public universities every year, while another 10 were sent to study abroad.
He said 1,797 Orang Asli youth joined skills development programmes last year, with 887 of them securing employment.
Najib said the government was confident that it could reduce cases of school dropouts among Orang Asli children from 29 per cent in 2011 to 15 per cent next year.
"We view this issue seriously and will get the cooperation from Orang Asli parents to help stop their children from leaving school at a young age."
Najib expressed his satisfaction with the performance of the Orang Asli children in his constituency. Ten of them scored 5As in last year's Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah while one obtained 7As in the Penilaian Menengah Rendah.
He said these students would receive scholarships from Yayayan Pahang.
At the function, Najib also announced three Tok Batin (Orang Asli headmen) would be sponsored to perform the haj this year.
Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal said the ministry was allocated RM300 million to build 62 PSKs nationwide, including three in Pahang.
He said a PSK had been built in Pantos, Lipis, while a flood-prone Orang Asli village in Jerantut had been chosen as the third site for the project.
"Initially, some of them were reluctant to move into the new homes. However, they later realised it is important to live in a comfortable environment in order for their children to excel in their studies," he told reporters after the function.
He said the Orang Asli would not lose their identity at the PSKs as they could continue practising their culture and beliefs there.
At another function later, Najib listed four crucial factors that would help bring greater success to the "jihad" (struggle ) in education.
He said the first factor was a good school management system with a clear mission and vision while the second was dedicated and responsible teachers who would go the extra mile to ensure the success of their students.
The third factor, he said, was the role of parents who should continuously support and monitor their children's progress.
As for the last factor, he said it was the students' determination to succeed.
Najib said if all the factors were adopted and with proper planning, Malaysia could also produce high quality human capital.