Pneumonia outbreak in Kuala Koh nothing to do with mining activity, says DPM

Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail with fellow ministers at a press conference in Gua Musang today. (Bernama pic)

GUA MUSANG: Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail today said the pneumonia outbreak among the Orang Asli from the Batek tribe in Kampung Kuala Koh here was not due to manganese mining activity.

She said the test results released by the Chemistry Department on June 12 showed that the overall quality of water in the sample area, that is, the Lebir river, was in compliance with the national water quality standard for raw water.

“The June 12 results also found no pollution from palm oil waste, pesticides and herbicides.

“Investigations carried out by the Department of Environment found no manganese mining waste disposal at Felda Aring 10, which is located about 10km from the Orang Asli settlement in Kuala Koh.”

She said this to reporters after visiting the area and being briefed about the situation at the National Disaster Management Agency operation centre at Dewan Felda Aring 10 here.

She said the government through the health ministry would continue trying to find the actual cause of the pneumonia outbreak in the Orang Asli settlement.

“This is a new phenomenon which has never occurred in the Orang Asli community before. We want to know the cause of the outbreak which has resulted in the sudden deaths of the Orang Asli because we have also found out that they have been facing chronic health issues over the recent years.

“The lab test results are expected to be available soon, as they (the investigation team) are in the midst of identifying the microorganisms from the samples taken from the patients and the bodies,” she said.

Wan Azizah also said the government is mulling over how to help the Orang Asli live a better life.

“One of the reasons is because their foraging area has become smaller, causing them to get less protein to the extent that they face malnutrition. They are also losing their source of income because of that.

“That’s why we have to think about how to solve the issues of modernisation and poverty affecting the Orang Asli,” she said.