Consumers Association of Penang

Giving voice to the little people...since 1970

The sorry state of Orang Asli health

The recent disclosures made by Dr. Selva Vathany Pillai concerning malpractice and the misappropriation of resources by hospital authorities at the Gombak Hospital, brings into stark focus, the social and health status of this community.

The Orang Asli, (aboriginal peoples), who are the most marginalised community in the country continue to suffer the loss of their lands through resettlement, logging, mining, dam construction, golf course development, plantation schemes, regroupment and assimilation into mainstream society.

Development is a form of theft

Conventional development, under which the rich take from Third World people most of the value produced by their labour, land and capital, is a subtle and little-recognised form of theft.

Corporate protectionism threatens people

While the anti-democratic nature of the centralised nation state is undesirable, the emergence of corporate protectionism under globalisation is the real threat to democratic rights and economic livelihoods, says the writer. Countering this recolonisation requires the reinvention of national sovereignty by democratic processes, to create national systems which act in partnership with local communities to protect their natural wealth, livelihoods and cultural and intellectual heritage.

Defining poverty

A life with zero income does not have to be degrading, if people can provide all their own needs for themselves. On the other hand, an income of $25,000 may be called poverty when all needs must be bought in, and such a sum is insufficient for the purpose.

Byproducts should not be wasted or be polluting

CAP draws attention to a report in a local English daily in August 2008 that the current chemical fertiliser import bill amounts to RM5 billion for the oil palm industry alone. The bill was estimated “to increase two fold due to higher petroleum and other commodity prices”. This is a frightening scenario.

As stated by the honourable Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities Datuk Peter Chin in the same report, there are viable ways to reduce this large import bill for chemical fertilisers by the use of organic fertilisers and bio-fertilisers, including empty food bunches (EFB) and palm oil mill effluent (POME) that are by-products of palm oil industry.