Author Archives: ismail patel

Technology Bringing Awareness to Orang Asli Issues

Upon finishing my research paper and reconfirming deadlines, I realized that the final blogpost was due November 21st, not December 4th as I had thought. Therefore I apologize for the tardiness of this post, but it includes some very useful websites pertaining to Malaysia’s Oran Asli, the topic of my paper. For anyone looking into information concerning the issues surrounding the Indigenous people of Peninsular Malaysia, these sites are great resources. They also show how the Orang Asli are utilizing technology as a platform for advocacy.


This is the official website for the Center of Orang Asli Concerns. A great website to learn about who the Orang Asli are and the issues that they face. I believe that the site was set up by Colin Nicholas, one of the leading academics in Orang Asli studies. He has written a lot about Orang Asli history on the site and the site also includes up to date news, articles as well as publications about Malaysia’s Orang Asli.


This is the website for the Indigenous Peoples Network of Malaysia (Jaringan Orang Asal Se-Malaysia in the Malay language) which is an umbrella group for 21 organizations that focus on issues related to Malaysia’s Indigenous peoples. This group advocates for all of Malaysia’s Indigenous groups and also represents them nationally and internationally as well. Unfortunately the site doesn’t look like it has been updated for a while, but has a lot of information about Indigenous issues in Malaysia written in both English and Malay.


After doing my research I learned that the primary way in which the Orang Asli community communicates amongst themselves and to the outside world through the internet was with the use of blogs. This blog is dedicated to issues related to women in Southeast Asian communities. This page deals with female activists in the Orang Asli community and details how a capacity building workshop has helped train these women on technology which has allowed them to tell digital stories and create advocacy videos to raise awareness of the issues they face. A couple of the videos can also be viewed here.


This is an article from the Indigenous Voices of Asia website that details how Orang Asli groups are using technology like social media to make their grievances known. This article features how a workshop conducted amongst Orang Asli villagers has helped them learn how to document their grievances and highlight their plight using social media. Using technology, these communities now have a way to fight back against government agencies who claim that their villages are operating problem-free.


This post is a video of a Temiar community, one of the 19 Indigenous groups that constitute Malaysia’s Orang Asli. In this video we can see how the Temiar people connect to the land around them and utilize the land harmoniously, as is the case with most of the world’s Indigenous people. The video also shows a Temiar ceremony with song and dance and highlights some of the cultural rituals of the group.

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.

Indigenous Education in Southeast Asia

After completing the activities in Module 2, and taking into account the fact I am living in Southeast Asia, I am looking at focussing my attention on educational issues of the Indigenous peoples that live here. This area of the world attracts a lot of tourists and foreigners every year coming for sun-filled vacations and mountain getaways. The region has also seem a booming manufacturing sector continue to grow and has been pushing forward various education plans over the past couple of decades to bring their living standards up to Western standards. However, little is known or talked about when it comes to the Native people of the region. As is the case with countries like Canada, the education systems in these countries are also failing to meet the needs of their Native peoples.

The first site is the official site for the “Second Malaysian Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education” that was recently held last month. Although there was government involvement, it was organized by a local Native group, the Dayak Bidayuh National Association, and it demonstrates an awareness of the needs of the Native peoples of Malaysian Borneo. The site gives the outside world some insight as to what kinds of issues are being discussed in terms of Native issues in Malaysian Borneo. Interesting to note that there were some Canadian connections on the speakers list.

Working off of the above website, I decided to look into the Dayak Bidayuh National Association. Their official site listed below. On the site you can find information regarding the founding history of the organization, pictures, as well as news articles regarding the Dayak Bidayuh community. There are some very interesting articles that also detail an initiative that they have taken to start a Multilingual Educational Project. This project looks to incorporate the Native tongue of the Bidayuh people into the school curriculum of local schools (along the lines of the initiative Lorna Williams was part of).

This article tells the heartbreaking story of the seven Temiar Native children that ran away from their boarding school in northern Malaysia. Only two of the children were found alive, and the others had perished due to dehydration and starvation. The story brings to light an education system that parallels that of the Canadian reservation school system. This is a bleak look at how the education policies of some governments are still looking to eradicate the culture of the Native people residing within their borders.

An education in captivity

This article from the Indigenous Voices of Asia website details another shocking loss of life, this time in Thailand. The students, again, were indigenous youths and this article outlines how the government’s education policies in Thailand have worked to oppress the culture and rights of the indigenous people living there. The theme of using education as a tool to separate the indigenous people from their land and their culture comes up once again.

Thailand: The death of 17 Indigenous students reflects the poor government policies on education

This is a link to a video produced by the Inter Mountain Peoples Education and Culture in Thailand (IMPECT) Association. The video outlines a lot of the issues we have been discussing, specifically the loss of language and culture of the indigenous peoples there. It does offer an inspiring community school project that the indigenous Mowakhi people in Thailand worked hard to set up that incorporated a ‘bicultural’ curriculum. However, the mistrust of the government by the community is still apparent and the lack of support given by the government mirrors the situation indigenous people in other countries are facing.

Indigenous Communities of the World

As I have been working and travelling around various parts of the world over the course of my career, I wanted to start off my online indigenous travels focussing on global indigenous communities. Looking at the websites posted, there have been a lot of great posts focussing on mainly North American indigenous issues, so I thought that I could add a bit of international flavour to the conversation.

#1 This website is a great resource that chronicles indigenous issues worldwide. It is published by the Center for World Indigenous Studies (CWIS) through the International Cry network. There are links to news stories organized by region, and great analysis. The best feature of this site is the ‘Film’ tab, which contains a massive collection of films dealing with indigenous issues.

#2 This site was set up by Cherokee social entrepreneur, Rebecca Adamson, as a way to promote indigenous development that adhered to the local philosophies of indigenous groups around the world. This website has a lot of good links to articles, videos and even radio programs, stressing the importance of indigenous values for the good of our collective future.

#3 IWGIA is an organization that advocates for indigenous peoples around the world. This website is vast and has a lot of information about the state of indigenous communities worldwide as well as numerous links to news articles, videos, journals and other publications related to indigenous issues. I found their ‘The Indigenous World’ tab very informative as it gives you a country-by-country breakdown of indigenous people around the globe.

#4 This website is a bit on the ‘low-tech’ side, but is focussed on education in the world’s indigenous communities. It is also home to a number of useful links along with a monthly newsletter. On top of this they also produce an annual report about issues in indigenous education and are currently in the process of producing a number of documentaries.

#5 This is a link to an online article about the organization called The World Indigenous Research Alliance (WIRA). This is an organization of Indigenous scholars that is looking to improve education in indigenous communities worldwide. The article outlines how the group was created, its goals, affiliations, supporters and funders as well as its plans to help promote indigenous education initiatives.