Batek community deaths: Forensic team concluding its probe

Batek community deaths: Forensic team concluding its probe

PUCHONG: The Health Ministry’s forensic team is due to conclude its findings on what caused the death of 12 people from the Batek tribe in Kuala Koh in May.

Speaking to the media today, Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad said the forensic team will have a discussion first before ending its probe.

“The post-mortem investigation is at the final stage now. Today, the forensic team will have its internal discussion to conclude its investigation,” he said.

In June, the authorities exhumed the bodies of the Orang Asli, who were said to have succumbed to a mysterious illness a month earlier.

Asked on the independent laboratory tests which revealed that water sources in Kuala Koh was toxic, Dzulkefly said his ministry was aware of the findings.

He also said that he had held discussions with the Federation of Private Medical Practitioners’ Associations Malaysia (FPMPAM) president Dr Steven Chow in regards to the water test results.

Chow led a team of doctors to investigate the water quality in Kuala Koh.

“We took their finding into consideration. We are also aware about the presence of heavy metals in the water,” he said.

However, Dzulkefly said linking the deaths of the Batek people to the water contamination is a different matter altogether.

Chow’s study revealed that the level of manganese in some water samples taken from the area was 2.53mg/L – more than 12 times above the safety standard of 0.2mg/L set by the Health Ministry.

The study also found an unacceptable level of faecal contamination in the water.

Meanwhile, Dzulkefly said the Health Ministry has set up a panel to investigate claims that Orang Asli women were being forced into taking birth control medication by Health Ministry officials.

On the progress of the investigation, he said: “We are still investigating the matter.”