10th January 2022

The recent flood has been devastating to the OA Temuan (Temuan indigenous peoples) in Kampung Telemong (Temelong Village) near Karak, Pahang with their houses being destroyed by the unleashed forces of nature.

With rapidly rising waters in the early morning hours, the families barely managed to escape with few personal possessions. They heard the roar like sounds of the tsunami-like waters surging through the river, bringing all the driftwood and logs towards their village.

River next to OA Telemong Village

The enormous amount of logs brought downriver by the flood is probably due to owners of durian and other plantations. Whilst clearing the land, they had pushed the felled trees to the side of the hill or beside the river, and this had accumulated over the years. When the ecological limits of the forest had been reached, the torrential monsoon rains unleashed its might to bring all the driftwood downriver, causing death and destruction to everything in its path.

Six non-locals were stranded on the bridge with their vehicles and were swept away by the flash floods. Five bodies have been recovered so far.

Fortunately for Kampung Telemong, there was a strong bridge that held the logs from crashing into their village. However, 10 out of the 11 houses in that village were destroyed by falling uprooted trees. One house (image below) was completely swept away into the river, leaving only the floorboards as a sign that a house ever existed there.

Uprooted Tree Fallen on OA House

All of the OA retreated uphill wading through waist-deep waters. They were afraid to be relocated into nearby schools or other facilities for fear that they would not be allowed to return to their own land. Thankfully, JAKOA (Malaysia’s Department of Orang Asli Development) brought in some makeshift tents on this higher ground for them to stay.

On 5th January 2022, YKPM brought flood relief aid including food, mosquito nettings, gas tanks, stoves, cooking utensils, plates, cutlery, cleaning agents and toiletries, because we were told the night before that the village had already received plenty of food aid. Hence, we utilised the unspent funds to buy the requested plastic boxes, gas tanks, bins and toiletries. On arrival, we discovered that many people had been sending food aid to the same village. An NGO contact working there said that they already have 20 bags of rice for each family plus other foodstuff.

Makeshift Tents Where the Temuan Stay

This is encouraging to see the Malaysian public so ready to help. However, without proper coordination, such surplus is inevitable.

On that very same day, one Chinese group had just delivered food to the community and after us, a PERKIM group had a convoy of goods being brought in.

Hence, we decided in the next phase to focus on the longer-term rebuilding facilities like clean water supply systems or even housing and sanitation.

Discussion on Design of Sanitation Systems

YKPM is now partnering with Saora Plus headed by Ganesh to build sanitation. Ganesh has wonderfully mobilised the community to rebuild their houses.

Thank you for those who supported this flood relief fund. We will building toilets in Kampung Telemong and exploring how to build suitable water solutions in Kampung Genting Peras, Ulu Langat.
We had also brought food relief aid to Kampung Sungai Dua Olak, Karak, and will be helping some farmers in Kampung Melai whose farms were flooded.

It looks like once news of a village crisis is viralled, food aid comes in all directions. Kudos to our Malaysians. So, good to see all races helping the stranded Temuan. There is hope for Malaysia and at the grassroot community, races are willing to help each other.
Next, we need to look at strategic interventions and better coordination.

Kon Onn Sein
Managing Director
Yayasan Kajian dan Pembangunan Masyarakat (YKPM)
10 Jan 2021

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