Tok Batin's Leadership Key To Developing Beswok's Ecotourism Potential

oday, more Orang Asli communities recognised the opportunities that tourism development brings to their social and economic conditions. For development to take place within the community, the village head or Tok Batin has a vital role in developing the village potential given his ability to mobilise the people.

Over the past six months, Tok Batin Mohd Daud Anjang, 57, who leads the Orang Asli’s Temiar ethnic group at Pos Yum in Kampung Beswok, had his hands full, carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders.

With ecotourism becoming a buzzword in recent years for both local and foreign tourists, he has been busy responding to phone calls and hundreds of messages daily from the public for reservations to stay at Kampung (kg) Beswok chalet.

 Demand for the chalet managed jointly with the residents of the village sited about 65 kilometres from Sungai Siput town, has been growing steadily.   

 “The chalet is now our new source of income since it was open to the public in 2019. Since then, we have been experiencing brisk business, with double-digit demand growth during the school holidays, festive seasons, weekends and public holidays such as the National Day,” Mohd Daud, who was appointed Tok Batin of Kampung Beswok in 2003, told Bernama.

He said members of the public can make their reservations through WhatsApp or send their text messages to 016-4747882.

As a result of the overwhelming demand, Kampung Beswok was thrust into the spotlight, with visitors thronging the new ecotourism attraction to enjoy the natural and scenic landscape while having a better understanding of the Orang Asli from the Temiar community.

Kampung Beswok, with its stunning natural surroundings -  crystal clear waters from the river flowing and falling off large rocks, the cascading Telei waterfalls as well as the serene and lush green landscape – are some of the main attractions among urban dwellers seeking refuge from the grind of city life.

 "Of late, there have been many calls and messages from interested parties wishing to make reservations at the chalet, with some phoning in at midnight ahead of the school holidays and National Day celebration. However, many were disappointed as we are fully booked since end of June, as our confirmed guests had made early reservations,” he added.

Visitors, Fadhlan Tajudin 38 (right) with his wife, Nur Amalina Abdul Manaf, 38, and their son Mika Ilman Fadhlan, 12, enjoy the beauty of nature at the chalet run by the Orang Asli people of the Temiar tribe in Kampung Beswok, Pos Yum. -- fotoBERNAMA (2023) ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Situated about 90 km from Ipoh city, Kampung Beswok is accessible by tarred road and is not limited to four-wheel drive vehicles, with communication facilities made available since 2019.

Mohd Daud however admitted that uplifting the villagers’socio-economic status through ecotourism had its challenges especially in changing the mindset of the Orang Asli community who had been over-dependent on forest products and agriculture as their source of livelihood.

 “However, early positive signs were shown when the villagers joined hands in developing the ecotourism sector here. Despite their earlier protest, the people were happy to see their efforts bearing fruit especially with encouraging sales for their craft products,” he said.



Changing the residents’ mindset was no mean feat especially at the onset, said Mohd Daud, noting that those who were strongly against the project argued that it would not benefit the people.

However, Mohd Daud continued his relentless efforts by convincing his community to not merely rely on forest products as their main source of income, as practised by their past generations.

He viewed the change as crucial given the depleting resources from the forest due to forest exploitation and deforestation and coupled with the fact that they could no longer extract forest products for commercial purposes.

 “We have to seek alternative income sources, otherwise our livelihood will be affected but many did not believe that this project will succeed as they thought no one would spend their vacation in remote areas with no attractions to offer,” he said adding that there are now 306 people residing in Kampung Beswok.

Although rubber trees and cocoa are grown as alternative sources, income generated from these crops had been sluggish as they were not able to commercialise their products given that their land has yet to be gazetted as Orang Asli Reserve Land.

 Amid protests from the villagers, Mohd Daud, who could not receive the needed cooperation from the people, was steadfast in his endeavour to proceed with the ecotourism project together with several members of his family and relatives by developing three chalets near the Yum river in 2019.

Inspired by the success of the Orang Asli community at Pos Yum in Kuala Mu, which is located about four kilometres from Kampung Beswok, Mohd Daud, who visited a friend there, was confident a similar project could be implemented in his village.

Among the visitors staying at the chalet run by the Orang Asli people of the Temiar tribe in Kampung Beswok, Pos Yum. -- fotoBERNAMA (2023) ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Various initiatives were undertaken and while no bookings were received for the chalets for over three months, Mohd Daud soldiered on. With patience and determination, he received encouraging response from customers.

Three chalets were not enough to cope with the demand then, and as a result, the local community were drawn in to jointly develop the ecotourism project there.

Interestingly, they utilised the government’s assistance as capital for building chalets and homestay, beautifying the surrounding areas as well as providing other facilities such as public toilets for visitors.

 “We decided to pool our resources from the financial aid that we received from the government. From three chalets, we now have 19 chalets and a homestay. A total of RM4,000 was spent on each chalet. Overall, about RM50,000 were spent on the chalets.

 “We also provide campsites, park benches as well as pondoks (huts) for visitors. Income generated from this ecotourism activity will augur well for the community here and at the same time, we also have our cocoa and rubber tree plantations, fish breeding and handicraft products to add value to our ecotourism packages,” he said.



As with other economic activities, ecotourism at Kampung Beswok was also hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw the abandoned chalet areas overgrown with bushes.

 According to Mohd Daud, several residents were devastated as their investment returns were only temporary.

 “Everyone was disappointed with the turn of events as the efforts channelled toward the project ended this way, but as Tok Batin and as the prime mover behind this project, I could not give up easily. I appealed to them to be patient and immediately after the reopening of the ecotourism sector, we immediately cleaned up the surrounding areas,” he said.

The room environment in the chalet equipped with beds and pillows. -- fotoBERNAMA (2023) ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

After a three-year hiatus, no bookings were received for  four months immediately after the reopening of the sector in February 2022 until early June, when several programmes were implemented.

In fact, business gained momentum when Mohd Daud and the villagers tapped the social media platforms to promote their village as the best holiday destination for the family.

With reasonable rates at RM70 per night for a chalet, and RM100 for a homestay that is equipped with facilities for cooking, toilets, beds, mattresses and pillows, Kampung Beswok has turned into an attractive and suitable location for all.

For those who love challenges and accommodation with a natural environment ambience, a total of 37 campsites are also provided with rates ranging from RM25 to RM40 based on tent size. Public toilets are available for those who opt for camping while each chalet is equipped with toilet facilities.



 “Based on observation, chalets at several ecotourism sites such as  Kuala Mu and two villages under Pos Yum such as Kampung Pendeq and Kampung Yum, are not equipped with indoor toilet facilities, which caused inconvenience for visitors especially women and senior citizens.

 “Without indoor toilets, guests had to join the long queues at public toilets, compromising on their safety especially at night as the chalets are located near the thick jungle. From there, it gave me an idea to provide indoor toilets for chalets at Kampung Beswok,” he added.

Due to the encouraging demand for accommodation at Kampung Beswok chalets - with early reservations from visitors planning to spend their vacation in December for the school holidays -Mohd Daud said he had submitted an application to develop additional chalets to the Orang Asli Development Department (JAKOA).

It is learnt that JAKOA had submitted the application to the Ministry of Economy under the People’s Income Initiative (IPR) project, for another 30 chalets to cope with the high demand during peak hours, and hence generating additional income for the Orang Asli community there.

Mohd Daud who was awarded the National Orang Asli Entrepreneur Icon last year, said he noted the importance of establishing close cooperation with JAKOA given that their land had yet to be gazetted.

 “I appeal to the government to seriously look into the Orang Asli community’s wellbeing especially in Kampung Beswok and take the necessary measures to gazette the land as this will help boost their economy,” he said.

Visitors are recording their leisure memories in the chalet surrounded by the Telei waterfall and various plant landscapes. -- fotoBERNAMA (2023) ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

When asked on the matter, JAKOA Kuala Kangsar district officer Muhammad Hazwan Sabri said, the department was applying for gazetting of the area concerned, noting that the process was time consuming    and complex as it involved various parties.   

However, he said, the Orang Asli community’s determination in generating income attracted the attention of JAKOA and non-governmental organisations (NGO) which jointly extended their assistance in uplifting their economy.

Prior to this, the government agency had proposed that other villages develop their economy with the assistance given, but proved futile as the residents were not interested in taking up the offer.

 “On the contrary, the Kampung Beswok community showed their interest and enthusiasm in developing chalets, breeding fish, etc to generate income. As such, we helped them by tarring their roads and providing other assistance,” he added.



As a result of the Kampung Beswok community’s commitment, JAKOA nominated the village for the Aspirasi Kampung Sejahtera (The Prosperous Village Aspiration) 2023 competition at the national level for the Perak state.

 Kampung Kuala Mu won the competition in 2022 and to ensure its objective is achieved, several government agencies and the private sector are also involved to assist Kampung Beswok such as the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Social Security Organisation (SOCSO).

 “This year we are focused on Kampung Beswok.  Of the 60 projects in Kuala Kangsar, the village showed promise given the people’s commitment and determination and for his leadership role, the Tok Batin (Kampung Beswok) was awarded the National Entrepreneur Icon last year,” he said.

According to Mohd Hazwan, besides ecotourism development, the agency was now seeking investors or companies interested in growing premium cocoa in Kampung Beswok that can be sold at a higher price as experienced in Kuala Mu.

An Orang Asli resident of the Temiar tribe, Jali Roslan, 35, shows the cocoa fruit which is a source of income for the local community. -- fotoBERNAMA (2023) ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

He said the department was also providing training for existing cooperatives at Kampung Beswok namely Koperasi Penanam Koko Orang Asli Pos Yum Sungai Siput Berhad, in addition to setting up new cooperatives that will truly benefit the people.

 “Tok Batin of Kampung Beswok himself is keen to learn and personally go to SKM (Malaysia Co-operative Societies Commission) to study the procedures. We have also discussed with Mardi (Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute) to cultivate cash crops there such as onions.

 “On fish breeding, the Fisheries Department has indicated that it will provide a place for training as well as shrimp seeds for breeding giant prawns, subject to suitability of the location,” he said.


Translated by Salbiah Said



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