PUTRAJAYA: Ecotourism and agro-tourism are the keys to a better economy for the orang asli community, says Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
The Prime Minister believes the two areas could help boost their livelihood through job opportunities and entrepreneurship.
He said better income could be generated for the orang asli if they venture into ecotourism and agrotourism with handicraft and down-stream products and activities as income generator.
“The government is committed to assisting the community to improve their livelihood and quality of life.
Dr Mahathir said with infrastructure being a catalyst to improve their socio-economy, the government would continue to emphasise physical development for them.
To date, 84% of orang asli villages have roads, 80% are equipped with power supply and 79% have water running through the pipes.
“We hope these facilities will be fully enjoyed by all orang asli.
“They, too, should and must benefit from the perks of development,” he said.
The Prime Minister said education for the orang asli children was also an important agenda the government was pursuing, through more educational infrastructure and campaigns to create higher awareness.
However, Dr Mahathir pointed out that changes and encouragement for the younger generation to study must begin at home.
“I am made to understand that there are 1,090 orang asli students in public universities.
“There are also those who are pursuing their education abroad right up to Master’s and PhD.
“This is a sign that the community has begun to realise the importance of education,” he said.
Dr Mahathir also called on the community to engage openly with the government so that good decisions could be made to help them.