Chief Minister of Perak Dato’ Seri Zambry bin Abdul Kadir played host to 176 Tok Batin (Orang Asli village chiefs) at his official residence on Tuesday January 26.
Perak, with a registered population of 54,600 Orang Asli scattered throughout the state is the second largest after Pahang. The main clans found are the Semai, Temiar, Jahai, Lanoh and Kensiu.
In his address Zambry welcomed the guests as ‘Orang Kita’ or Our People, a term commonly used among the Orang Asli. Zambry also announced the appointment of a Special Officer, 57-year-old Panjang Ali, a Semai from Kg Tangkai Cermin, Sg Galah, Tg. Tualang, who will be attached to his office to oversee Orang Asli issues such as poverty, land and education. He added that an allocation of RM1 million over and above the current allocation has been made, as the state government’s commitment to the community.
The event held at the chief minister’s residence was the first time for the community and the turnout was overwhelming. Of the 1,400 attendees, 1,200 were of Orang Asli origin. The organiser for the night JHEOA (Orang Asli Affairs Department) had indicated that they had originally planned for an 800 head count and arranged transportation accordingly. However a lot of the Orang Asli arranged their own transport to the event with some being ferried by their local assemblymen. Apparently being invited to the event was very important to the community as those that were excluded had called to express their disappointment.