Monday, June 27, 2005
Not forsaken nor forgotten.
With his face partially hidden behind a wooden stilt, a little boy carefully peered his face towards mine. He was silent, but his eyes already asked a question, "Who are you?"
The Orang Asli community living in the jungles of Malaysia are the most singled out, sidelined- call it by any other term; downright abandoned by the Government in every effort it makes to improve the standard of living of the nation. Cut off by road inaccessibilty (otherwise only made accessible by loggers who are in for the profit), this community has virtually no access to electricity, education or medical attention of any manner. A clean water source is their only prized amenity.
Even as their plight is being highlighted now, loggers and profit-hungry Chinese planters are robbing them of their land- for logging and land for durian plantations. Lack of education leave them defenseless in knowing which property is rightfully theirs. And being illiterate means total vulnerability towards fraudulent contracts, if any were to be made to them in the first place.Illiteracy not only makes them raw, easy targets of oppression by the loggers, planters and irresponsible government officers, but also suppresses them greatly from any much-needed social development.
Here, they are to remain as odd job workers- never mind if they had to fight to death with the foreign labourers entering the country in abundance. Here, they are to remain silent, for being deprived the key to knowledge equates to them being dumb and mute. Here, they are to remain as outcasts- pushed further into the undesirable conditions of jungle-living. No sooner would their obscurity become so apparent, that their existence becomes otherwise.
Such is the fragility of these people, and it is with this glass-like nature of the existence of the marginalised community of Malaysia that an appeal must be made to those who are educated, those who own the privilege of knowing how to read and write and perhaps do even more- The Orang Asli community is not a community destined for negligience, to think of them in such a manner would render any one of us deserving of a similar fate. For they are too, the Rakyat, citizens of Malaysia. Therefore, in no manner that they should be treated as a leprous society- left alone to fend for their existence without even the most basic, yet a right that is of crucial importance- the right to education, the privilege to read and write. It is, therefore a responsibility that each and every one of us must bear.
Even so, a Christian's call to duty weighs so much more. If the Government refused to have their part in this, then let us, the Church; with the grace of our Almighty God; bear this burden with deep-rooted love and conviction that the God Whose Supremacy is in all things shall see to it being done.Not that our actions come in second only to the government's, but that our worldview must be consciously geared towards the act of proclaiming His Kingdom- dispensing teaching aids and knowledge to them, so that they may not only learn to read and write, they would be able to know God's Word and see it as treasure.