Orang Asli Students' Tragedy: Latest Updates And Everything You Should Know

On 23 August, 7 Orang Asli children fled into the Tohoi forest reserve in Gua Musang to avoid being punished for swimming in a river near their school.

Cover image via The Star Online / United Sikhs' Facebook

Orang Asli Development Department to fund survivors’ education up to tertiary level

The two survivors, Noreen Yakob, 10, and Mirsudiar Aluj, 11 were reportedly recovering well despite the horrifying incidents that span over 40 days when they were allegedly lost in the forest near Pos Tohoi

Image via Free Malaysia Today

Along with free education for the two Orang Asli tragedy survivors, Miksudiar Alui, 11, and Norieen Yaakob, 10, the Orang Asli Development Department (JAKOA) have also informed that they will start providing transportation for the Orang Asli students to return home every fortnightly from their schools, as reported by Free Malaysia Today, yesterday.

The transportation will be provided for Orang Asli pupils in all 94 primary schools with hostels in the country, said Rural and Regional Development Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

Rural and Regional Development Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob

Image via The Malaysian Insider

“At present, there are 16,905 Orang Asli pupils staying in school hostels across the country. We have to understand that Orang Asli settlements differ from normal residential areas. They live in small groups, scattered and very far.

“Orang Asli children begin staying in hostels from as young as seven and they only return home during long school holidays, but some of them may miss their families too much to the extent of deciding to return home on their own.”

11 OCT: Was there negligence in handling the Orang Asli tragedy? Teresa Kok wants to find out

Teresa Kok is also the Seputeh MP

Image via Malaysiakini

An inquiry should be set up to find out why it took so long to find the missing Orang Asli children in Pos Tohoi, when they were less than a kilometre away from their hostel, DAP vice chairperson Teresa Kok said.

The children went missing on Aug 23, but according to a report lodged by one of their parents on September 15, the police search only started five days later, Kok said.

She said the inquiry should also look at why the parents were not immediately informed by the school that their children were missing and why the children felt they needed to run away and hide to escape punishment for swimming in the river.

Kok raised concern that forced assimilation in the school had alienated the children and led them to flee.

9 OCT: Skeletal remains of another missing Orang Asli child found

Image via TRP

Search and rescue authorities today found another human remains along Sungai Perias. The remains were believed to be one of the seven Orang Asli children who had gone missing from SK Pos Tohoi since Aug 23.

The remains, believed to be that of seven-year-old Juvina David, were found close to the area where two survivors – Norieen Yakob and Miksudial Aluj – were found along Sungai Perias at 10.30am on Saturday. Norieen's uncle Harry Boy, 20, when told about the discovery said he was sure it was Juvina based on a conversation with his niece on Friday.

The remains found at Sungai Perias were taken to the Gua Musang General Hospital for post-mortem.

Image via Astro Awani

The remains were then taken out by boat and arrived at the Sungai Perias bank at 1.30pm and was later taken to the Gua Musang General Hospital for post-mortem. The remains was the second of such discovery during the search and rescue (SAR) operation. Only one Orang Asli child remain to be found, since they were reported missing on August 23.

A total of 127 officers were assigned for the SAR operation of the missing Orang Asli children. This included 53 members of the Malaysian Armed Forces, 11 of the Royal Malaysian Police, 30 gerneral troops and nine education officers.

2 Orang Asli children found alive as authorities recover another body at Sungai Perias

Norieen Yakod's mother, Midah Angah, in a statement, earlier today, said that she had 'given up hope' of finding her missing children alive. Norieen's sibling, Haikal is yet to be found

Image via New Straits Times

It was learnt that the survivors have been identified as Norieen Yakob, 10 and Mirsudial Aluj, 11.

Reporters on site at SK Tohoi reported that both survivors were malnourished and very weak.

Medical staff stationed at the school rendered immediate health assistance to the two before they were transported to the Gua Musang general hospital at 2pm Friday.

On Aug 23, seven orang asli children aged seven to 11, disappeared from their school.

12:14 p.m: Skeletal remains of another child found in Sungai Perias

OCPD Supt Saiful Bahri Abdullah

Image via The Star

The skeletal remains of a child, which included a human skull and torso, were recovered by Senoi Praaq General Operation Force members at the riverbank at about 4pm yesterday.

Sources said the skull had a number of fractures, believed to have been caused by a fall.

OCPD Supt Saiful Bahri Abdullah confirmed the find, adding that police needed to check whether the remains were that of one of the missing children.

The remains were taken to Gua Musang Hospital, 46km away, at about 8.40pm.

Meanwhile, the body found in the same Sungai Perias near Pos Tohoi on 7 October has been identified as Sasa Sobrie, one of the 7 Orang Asli pupils that went missing on 23 August

8-year-old Sasa Sobrie's highly decomposed body was found yesterday by Sungai Perias

Image via New Straits Times

After more than a month of searching by police as well as soldiers, a villager last night discovered a body whose leg was trapped in a tree branch in Sungai Perias.

Parents of the missing children were called to the mortuary today to identify the remains.

Amek and her husband Sobrie Latiff, also 25, had both identified the remains as that of Sasa, the eldest of their four children.

“My heart just sank when I saw the earring,” said Amek, 25.

8 OCT: Families of missing Orang Asli children to provide DNA samples to aid body identification

Police have requested the families of the missing pupils to provide DNA samples for identification purposes this afternoon

Image via The Star

Family members of the seven missing Orang Asli students, who disappeared 45 days ago, are expected provide DNA samples at the Gua Musang Hospital today to positively ascertain whether the decomposed body of a girl found in Sungai Perias is one of the missing children.

Gua Musang police chief Supt Saiful Bahri Abdullah confirmed that the post-mortem has been completed, pending the identification process.

“The identification process will begin in the afternoon when family members of all the seven missing schoolchildren arrive.

“The body is not only highly decomposed but a lack of specific identifiers has also complicated the identification process,” he said.

Highly decomposed body of a girl found near Pos Tohoi yesterday, 7 October

The remains of the girl have been sent to the Gua Musang hospital for post-mortem

Image via The Star

The body was found in Sungai Perias, just 500 meters from where the seven orang asli pupils went missing on 23 August.

"Police have yet to confirm anything on the recovery of the body. We will have to wait for confirmation of her identity," said district police chief superintendent Saiful Bahri Abdulah.

He said that with the find, search efforts for the children will be concentrated around the area where the body was found.

The seven children, Mirsudiar Aluj, 11; Norieen Yaakob, ten; Ika Ayel, nine; Sasa Sobrie, eight; Haikal Yaakob, eight; Linda Rosli, eight, and Juvina David, seven, who lived in the school hostel, was said to have fled into the jungle to escape punishment after they were caught swimming in a nearby river without permission.

7 SEPT: School authorities have apparently issued warning letters to parents and guardians of the 7 Orang Asli children who had gone missing in Gua Musang, Kelantan 2 weeks ago.

The letter, signed by the principal of Sekolah Kebangsaan Tohoi, warned that the students may be expelled for not attending classes since 23 August.

According to a letter by the principal of Sekolah Kebangsaan Tohoi, parents of the missing children must bring them back to the school in the interiors of Gua Musang, Kelantan, within 31 days or risk having them expelled.

The letter was dated Sept 2 and uploaded online by humanitarian group United Sikhs who visited the remote area.

Midah Angah, the mother of two of the missing kids, expressed her outrage with the school for sending them the letters when the kids went missing on school grounds and that "everyone knows the kids are missing"

"This is an outrage. Our children went missing from the school and now we get this?" Midah Angah, the mother of two of the missing children was quoted as saying by TheSun.

"How can we bring back our children when they got lost on school grounds and we don't know where they are. Everyone knows the kids are missing. How can the school authorities send such a letter to us knowing fully well that there is a search party out there looking for them," she added.

However, Deputy Education Minister P. Kamalanathan suggested that the letter may be fake and urged the parents of the missing children to forward their complaints about the alleged warning letter to the Education Ministry

Based on my checks with the ministry, there was no such letter issued,” Kamalanathan was quoted as saying by The Star.

Kamalanathan reportedly told StarEducate that the Education Minister Mahdzhir Khalid had visited the school on Thursday, but no one approached him or mentioned about the letter.

He added that it would be wise to check validity of reports circulating online before drawing conclusions, as it may be unfounded.

All 7 pupils - aged between 7 to 11 years old - have been reported missing in the jungle near the boarding school since 23 August. It is feared that they may have fled into the jungle to escape punishment after they were caught swimming in a river without permission.

Image via The Star Online

On Aug 23, Norieen and Haikal, together with Mirsudiar Aluj, 11, Ika Ayel, nine, Sasa Sobrie, eight, Linda Rosli, eight, and Juvina David, seven, fled into a forest reserve to escape from punishment for swimming in the nearby river without permission.

Most of the children studying at Sekolah Kebangsaan Tohoi stay in dormitories, as their villages are located hours away, even deeper into the jungle.

SK Tohoi is 50km from the children's village and is only accessible from the main road by four-wheel drive vehicles or motorcycles.

The school opened in 1982 and is managed by the Department of Orang Asli Development. It now has 225 pupils and 15 teachers.

Search and rescue (SAR) operations were only mounted 3 days after a missing persons report was lodged and are still ongoing to locate the children. So far, only a torn stocking believed to have belonged to one of the kids and some footprints have been found.

More than 100 policemen, personnel from RELA, Fire and Rescue and Civil Defence departments and 180 orang asli residents began to look for the pupils. They were joined on Friday (4 September) by 200 soldiers.

The only clue found so far has been a stocking discovered near the Sungai Mas bridge, Simpang Gemala, here on Tuesday (1 September). OCPD Supt Saiful Bahri Abdullah said the torn stocking was likely discarded by one of the seven pupils before they continued with their journey.

On 2 September, the fire and rescue department found footprints that seem to be from children along their search route yesterday. The footprints are sporadic but there is still hope.

“The footprints seem to be that of children but are not clear. Sometimes the footprints appear and disappear along the trail sporadically,” they said. “We followed the footprints for about 8km today and we had to stop because of nightfall."

Amidst criticism of the local authorities' search efforts, family members of the missing children also claimed that the authorities conducted a check in their homes in the night, as they suspect that the parents could be concealing the kids in their homes

Centre for Orang Asli Concerns (COAC) coordinator Dr Colin Nicho­las criticised local authorities over their initial efforts to locate the children. He claimed that they should have sought the help of orang asli trekkers earlier.

“When someone gets lost in the forest, the first thing you should do is to hire the local orang asli trekker but they were only roped in after 10 days,” he said when contacted.

He said family members were unhappy at being accused of hiding the children in the kampung.

“Why would they do that? Shouldn’t they be focusing on trying to find them instead of playing the blame game? The family members claimed that authorities conducted a check at each of the household to find whether some of them were trying to hide the children,” he said.

This is a developing story. Come back for more updates.

Meanwhile, Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Kevin Morais seems to have disappeared into thin air after he was last seen leaving for work on 4 September: