Orang Asli deaths: DPM’s statement cleared Kelantan’s name

Orang Asli deaths: DPM’s statement cleared Kelantan’s name

KOTA BHARU: The Kelantan state government welcomed the statement issued by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail who confirmed that the deaths occurred among the Batek tribe in Kuala Koh had nothing to do with water pollution due to mining activities.

Its deputy menteri besar Datuk Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah said the statement had cleared Kelantan’s name which had been accused of being responsible for the deaths.

“Initially there were many accusations thrown at Kelantan regarding the transmission of unknown diseases among the Orang Asli of the Batek tribe.

“We are grateful that Deputy Prime Minister has confirmed that the illness has nothing to do with alleged water pollution, based on the results of the tests carried out by several agencies including the Hazardous Materials (Hazmat) unit, the Department of Environment (DOE) and the Health Department,” he said today.

He said this in his reply to a supplementary question from Abd Rahman Yunus (PAS-Pasir Tumboh) who was asking for clarification on whether the mining activities were related to the problems faced by the Orang Asli community.

Earlier, Mohd Amar was replying to a question from Mohd Adanan Hassan (PAS-Kelaboran) who wanted to know efforts taken by the state government to increase state revenue from mining activities.

Last Friday, Azizah was reported as saying that the spread of the disease among the Batek tribe was not due to manganese mining activities.

She also said that the results released by the Chemistry Department on June 12vfound that the water quality in Lebir river was in compliance with the National Water Quality Standard.

Mohd Amar said that the Health Ministry itself had said that the Batek tribe members died due to measles and malnutrition.

In his answer to a supplementary question from Datuk Mohd Adhan Kechik (BN-Bukit Bunga) on the control of cyanide use in mining activities, Mohd Amar said the state government had always imposed stringent requirements on the use of the materials that could harm the environment and lives.

He said the Kelantan state government had received information on the use of cyanide but thus far it was still under control.

“That is why we emphasise on cooperation and roles played by other agencies, such as the Land and Mines Office and the DOE to monitor this matter so that they adhere to all rules,” he said, adding that stern action would be taken if the mining operators were found violating the rules.