A statement from the Tabung Covid-19 Orang Asli team: 
20/04/2020, 6:00 PM

When we launched the TaC-OA on 30 March 2020, we were already into Phase 2 of the Movement Control Order (MCO). The government food aid programme and cash stimulus packages had not been fully implemented and so many Orang Asli communities were feeling desperation regarding their food security.

In fact, many Malaysians faced the same predicament, especially those who were daily-waged or depended on the sale of their produce. Other food aid campaigns specifically catering for the Orang Asli were also already underway then.

Our initial target was to collect a modest RM30,000.00 in donations. This was met in just 3 days thanks to the generosity of many Malaysians. We recalibrated our goal to RM100,000.00 because the number of requests from Orang Asli communities were increasing. That target too was met within the week. In the last 23 days, the donations from the public have totaled RM317,590.41, of which we have disbursed RM314,866.41 to 5,901 families, which represents 29,874 Orang Asli individuals.

The TaC-OA also facilitated the identification of beneficiaries and delivery of food aid totalling RM65,601.00 to 767 Orang Asli families. The cost for the transport and delivery of the supplies were borne by the TaC-OA fund. But the cost of the food aid was contributed by corporations such as Linde, JTI, Khazanah and Bertha Foundation through the agency of MyKasih Foundation.

Our system of putting cash directly into the hands of village local coordinators - to make the purchases, deliver the items to their villages, and then distribute it to their community members themselves - was a working model that was efficient and effective. Not only did it conform to the MCO regulations and the JAKOA directive for outsiders to keep away from Orang Asli villages, it acknowledged the capacity and ability of the Orang Asli beneficiaries to organise themselves.

TaC-OA disburses the cash to local coordinators, who make the purchases, delivers the items to the villages and distributes to the community members themselves.

We are now into phase 3 of the MCO. The food needs of the Orang Asli are not as acute as they were when we started the campaign more than 2 weeks ago. This is in no small measure due to the generosity of Malaysians, and the willingness of so many individuals and groups to volunteer their time and energy to ensuring that as many communities as possible meet their basic food needs. The government’s own delivery system has also improved both in quantity of the food aid and the numbers served.

The food needs of the 5000-plus families living in unregistered villages, having been completely left out in Phase 1 of the food aid programme, is now being addressed.

Orang Asli are now also informed and wiser and to their entitlements under the announced aid packages and are not taking a back-seat when these are not delivered in full.

Some Orang Asli families have already received their first cash aid pay-out under the Bantuan Prihatin Nasional (BPN) Economic Stimulus Package. This amounts to RM1,000.00 per family. Single adults received RM500.00. More pay-outs - for RM600.00 and RM300.00 respectively - are due this month and we can expect this aid to continue as long as the MCO is in force.

The available disposable income in an Orang Asli village has now increased to several times the one-off food aid support (averaging RM2,000.00 to RM3,500.00 in cost per community) that we have been disbursing under the TaC-OA campaign.

However, not every Orang Asli family or single adult has received, or will receive, the financial aid under the Prihatin Rakyat Economic Stimulus Package. This is not because they are not eligible but rather because they are not yet registered.

The bottom 40% of our population in terms of income is referred to as the B40 group. Basically, if your household income is less than RM4,000.00 per month, you are in the B40 group. It is not surprising that of the 55,000 Orang Asli households in the peninsular, 99.29% (or 54,600 households) come under this category.

This is to say that almost all Orang Asli households and single adults are eligible for the financial aid under the government’s Bantuan Prihatin Nasional (BPN) Economic Stimulus Package.

The RM87.4 million available to Orang Asli households under this financial aid package greatly dwarfs the amount of food aid given out by the TaC-OA campaign.

If all eligible Orang Asli are actually receiving this cash aid, with the current parallel food aid programme of the government still in place, the TaC-OA food aid campaign would be insignificant and unnecessary.

This is not to say that the TaC-OA food aid programme was not needed. On the contrary, it kicked in at an important time, and with your generous support, it served as a much-needed ‘stop-gap’ measure in the initial stages of the MCO (when bureaucratic and logistical issues prevented many Orang Asli communities from getting the promised help).

Almost all Orang Asli households and single adults are eligible for financial aid under the government's Bantuan Prihatin Nasional (BPN) Economic Stimulus Package.

What’s Next?
Still in keeping with our original objective of filling in the immediate-need gap, we now think that the more urgent need is to ensure that all eligible Orang Asli get the financial entitlements under the Bantuan Prihatin Nasional (BPN) Economic Stimulus Package.

From our own inquiries, we know that many Orang Asli households and single adults have not received any such aid simply because they are not registered. Others do not have bank accounts so the online transfers cannot be executed by the government. Apart from a lack of sufficient information about this aid scheme, there are also obvious obstacles such as the absence of internet connectivity and low digital literacy in some communities.

We have now decided that we should focus our efforts on getting as many, if not all, eligible Orang Asli registered so that they enjoy some sense of longer-term financial security (and subsequently, food security as well).

There is also an element of urgency here as the government has set 30 April 2020 as the deadline for new registrations.
And it is towards this goal of getting as many Orang Asli registered for the BPN that we are now turning our attention to.
The TaC-OA campaign has largely achieved its objective of immediate food aid for communities in need. We still have 12 communities (both big and small) who have recently approached us for food aid. We estimate that the total disbursements necessary for these communities would be around RM15,000.00. We hope to fulfill our implied commitment to them. Given the balance of RM2,624.00 in the Fund, we still need to raise another RM12,500.00 for this purpose. 

After this, we will no longer be actively soliciting for donations towards the TaC-OA campaign[We have successfully met this goal as of 23rd April 2010! So, we are no longer actively soliciting for donations towards the TaC-OA campaign.]
Nevertheless, because of the wide publicity this campaign has had among the Orang Asli community, we continue to receive a steady stream of requests for food aid. As such, we will still accept donations from well-wishers who still wish to donate. And we will continue to disburse the full amount donated as food aid to those communities that are still not able to get the aid from other sources.
Thank you for your generous donations and solidarity with the Orang Asli.

- From the TaC-OA team
Center for Orang Asli Concerns (COAC), Impian Malaysia and Raleigh International Kuala Lumpur