Return to the Royal Belum State Park

Source: The Star

BY ELROI YEE, MARYAM ZAINOL, SHANJEEV REDDY and LIM MAY LEE

“HURRY up and gather everyone, there are important people here who want to see you,” said a young doctor, snapping his fingers at Kurup.

We were in front of Kurup’s house, along the Sungai Kejar in the Royal Belum State Park. Kurup is the orang asli man who lost his granddaughter Malini to sickness last month. We were there the morning the young girl passed away, and later witnessed the burial rituals.

Malini’s death, along with the accounts of many more child deaths from an illness known to locals as serawan, were documented in a report by R.AGE on the plight of the orang asli in Sungai Kejar. Read more

Jahai folk refuse treatment from health officers and run away

Source: The Star Online

A child suffering from a disease known to the Jahai tribe as ‘serawan’, taken during a previous trip to the Royal Belum State Park. The child has since fully recovered. — ELROI YEE/ The Star

IPOH: The Jahai tribe in Kampung Sungai Kejar in the Royal Belum rainforest complex believe strongly in their pantang larang (superstitions) and reject modern medicine.

The villagers prefer to rely on traditional methods of curing diseases and shy away from medical officers of the Perak Health Department.

Perak Health Committee chairman Datuk Dr Mah Hang Soon said this way of life was hindering the department from helping them.

“They refuse treatment from our health officers and run away from us,” he said.

It was reported by The Star‘s R.AGE team that there have been multiple child deaths among the Jahai tribe, related to “serawan” – a strange disease which the villagers said starts with white spots in the mouth and kills within days. Read more

Jakoa to check claims of 200 orang asli deaths

Source: The Star Online

A child suffering from a disease known to the Jahai tribe as ‘serawan’, taken during a previous trip to the Royal Belum State Park. The child has since fully recovered. — ELROI YEE/ The Star

PETALING JAYA: The Health Ministry would have raised the alarm if there were a high number of deaths due to thrush (oral infection) even among the orang asli community in remote areas, says the Orang Asli Development Department (Jakoa).

Jakoa deputy director general Suhaimi Mahmud said he was taken aback over reports in The Star in which the orang asli claimed that many had died in Royal Belum State Park in Perak.

“We are going down to the ground to check. It is impossible that such a high number of deaths had gone unnoticed,” he said.

The orang asli claimed that some 200 people have died of the disease.

Suhaimi said they would check the number of new graves in the area. Read more

Jahai tribe children are succumbing to a mysterious illness

Source: The Star Online

EXCLUSIVE BY ELROI YEE AND SHANJEEV REDDY

The orang asli community, especially the children, need a voice to alert others on their plight.

The orang asli community, especially the children, need a voice to alert others on their plight.

BELUM: A mysterious illness is killing orang asli children from the Jahai tribe in the Sungai Kejar area of Perak’s Royal Belum State Park and the authorities are either unaware of it or believe that the orang asli are not reporting the deaths.

The tribe calls the disease serawan. It starts with white spots in the children’s mouths and kills within days after symptoms are seen.

The Star’s R.AGE team travelled deep into the state park to probe and film a documentary.

It found families among the Jahai who have been losing their children to the disease.

An eight-year-old girl, Malini, died the morning after the team arrived and R.AGE was allowed to record footage of the burial rituals.

“If not for serawan, she would still be here,” said Malini’s grandfather, Kurup, who said that countless others have died from serawan.

Bain, another man from the tribe, said the disease had killed five of his children, adding that he knew four others who had died from it this year. Read more