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'Jakoa gave ample help to families of missing children'

The families of the seven Orang Asli pupils who went missing on Aug 23 reportedly to escape their teacher's punishment received ample help from the Orang Asli Development Department (Jakoa).

Jakoa director-general Hasnan Hassan said an Orang Asli volunteer team was among the immediate steps taken by the department following the report on the disappearance of the Sekolah Kebangsaan Tohoi pupils.

He said the team was made up of 190 members led by Kelantan Jakoa and Terengganu director Faridah Mat.

The team, he said, worked closely with a search and rescue (SAR) team comprising the Royal Malaysian Police, Malaysian Armed Forces, Fire and Rescue Department, Civil Defence Department and National Registration Department.

"Throughout the 47 days' operation, Jakoa did not receive any complaints or grouses from the pupils' parents or family members.

"Other parties also participated in the search and rescue operations and they expressed their appreciation to Jakoa for seeing to the needs and welfare of those involved," he said in a statement today.

Hasnan said Jakoa also prepared food and drinks for parents and family members of the pupils throughout the SAR operations.

"We also provided motorcycle fuel to 20 family members of the victims who had been asked to assist Jakoa in looking for the missing children around their villages in Kampung Gawin and Penad, and their school in Tohoi," he said.

He said three Jakoa officers were assigned to handle welfare and administration while counselling, food and financial aid were also provided to the parents and family members.

He added that Jakoa also paid for the daily expenses including accommodation and transport of the parents and family members who are taking care of the two pupils who were rescued on Friday and being treated at the hospital.

Hasnan expressed disappointment over accusations that Jakoa failed to carry out its responsibility in the case, saying they were baseless.

"But Jakoa is prepared to listen to views, constructive comments or suggestions to improve the department's service delivery system to the Orang Asli," he said.

- Bernama

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