Advancing the Causes of the Orang Asli

After going through the materials of Module 3, and feeling somewhat inspired about some of the initiatives that have been undertaken to help advance the well-being of Canada’s Indigenous people, I looked for some similar stories happening in Southeast Asia. Since the focus for my paper is going to be Malaysia, and the Orang Asli (Original People) from there, I decided to concentrate on stories about Malaysia’s Orang Asli. Unfortunately the initiatives in the Malaysian Orang Asli communities don’t seem as numerous as those for their Canadian counterparts; nevertheless, there are some positive initiatives to be found there as well.

#1 Orang Asli Photo Project
This is a video of a photo project conducted by Orang Asli youth at the Karak Secondary School in the Malaysian state of Pahang. Although I couldn’t determine a lot of the details, from the video it is apparent that the students were given cameras and some photography training and then were left to let loose with their creativity. The engagement of the students in the activity is obvious and it goes to show how integrating technology can help bring Indigenous youth from many communities into the learning environment.

#2 Orang Asli Documentary

This is another video that is a short documentary about the plight of the Orang Asli in Malaysia. It was made by the Center for Orang Asli Concerns. With 17,231 views, it has been a way for the outside world to learn about and understand their history within Malaysia, their contemporary lifestyles, as well as the trials and tribulations that they are facing. As with Canadian indigenous people, there is an distinct emphasis on their connection to their lands.

#3 Empowered2teach
This is a website set up through the Malaysian NGO called the SUKA Society. This NGO works towards improving the lives of Malaysian children in challenging circumstances. This particular website, empower2teach, was set up by an indigenous teacher from the Semai tribe in Malaysia. The website includes stories and articles from indigenous teachers about teaching in their respective indigenous communities. This group has also started a project that looks to provide support for indigenous peoples so that they can set up their own pre-school classes in their communities. It looks to train local teachers to help empower the indigenous communities within the country.

#4 Malaysian Indigenous Youth in the City
This is a publication that was sponsored by the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA). The name of the book is Malaysian Indigenous Youth in the City and it documents the lives of indigenous kids who are now city-dwellers. This is another project that had indigenous youth use photography to record their lives and help tell their stories to the world. If you scroll down you can actually view the entire book with both English and Bahasa Malaysia descriptions and captions.

#5 Land Protectors
I found this story interesting, especially in light of the protests going on in North Dakoda by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and their supporters. This is another story of indigenous people standing up for their rights against large companies exploiting their lands for monetary gains. For the last couple of months the Temiar people of the Malaysian state of Kelantan have been putting up barricades to stop logging companies from pillaging their lands. However, unlike the media attention in North Dakoda, the Temiar people have not received a lot of national or international support. This is a link to the story as well as other related articles.

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