KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 21 — At least 40 "bomoh" and "pawang", or witchdoctors, have been engaged to help in the search for seven Orang Asli children who have gone missing in the jungles of Kelantan late last month, as the parents hold on to hope that they will be found safe and sound.
Midah Angah, 40, whose daughter Noreen Yaacob, 10, and eight-year-old son Haikal were among the missing children, told Malay daily Harian Metro that her family has gone to great lengths to seek help from those attuned to the paranormal.
This included requesting the presence of the Tok Halak, or top priest of the Orang Asli community in Bidor, Perak, in their village in Kelantan to perform a three-day "sewang berubat" ceremony last week to find the whereabouts of the children.
"I took part in the sewang ceremony with the Tok Halak last week but the signs are still unclear," Midah was quoted as saying.
"We have used the services of many 'bomoh' and 'pawang', no less than 40 of them from among the Orang Asli and also local residents and from outside Kelantan who came voluntarily without any payment because we can't afford it.
"Most of them said our children are still alive, but do not know their location. I hope they can be found soon," she added.
Midah told the Malay daily that she has all but given up on the search and she does not know what to do, having even gone to "prayers centres" in Kuala Lumpur to pray but to no avail.
Silah Omar, 26, whose seven-year-old daughter Juvina David was in the group of missing children, said she is not denying the possibility that they were taken by certain parties as said by the police earlier.
She said it was a real possibility, as the search and rescue teams looking for the children have already covered some 80 square kilometres in the Balah forest reserve.
On August 23, seven Orang Asli pupils comprising six girls and a boy, aged seven to 11 years, were reported missing after they left their boarding school to go home, believing that their older siblings had done the same.
Apart from Noreen, Haikal and Juvina, the other children in the group are Mirsudiar Alui, 11, Ika Ayel, 9, Sasa Sobrie and Linda Rosli, both 8.
The families now believe that the children were kidnapped after local villagers found no trace of the children in the jungles and several abduction attempts have occurred in Gua Musang, Kelantan.
Two weeks ago, the Malaysian Armed Forces sent more than 200 personnel and four Agusta combat helicopters to help in the search-and-rescue operations but there have been no results since.