Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Orang Asli in Malaysia

In Peninsular Malaysia the Orang Asli consist of three main ethnic groups: the Senoi, the Proto-Malay and Negrito, with a total population of about 120,000 in year 2000. The majority were Senoi (living in Perak, Pahang, Kelantan and Selangor) and the Proto-Malay (largely found in Pahang, Johor, Terengganu and Negeri Sembilan). Efforts to develop Orang Asli communities can be traced back to 1953 and the establishment of the Department of Orang Asli Affairs (JHEOA). The development of Orang Asli schemes began in 1977, which involved regrouping of the Orang Asli into a centralised village within or close to their traditional homeland. The schemes include provision of basic facilities such as a primary school, health clinic, housing and some form of income generating activities such as rubber and palm oil cultivation (Nicolas, 2000). In some schemes the cultivation of crops were carried out together with FELCRA who managed the plantation on a cooperative system. There were 18 regrouping schemes developed for the whole of Peninsular Malaysia involving about 10,000 Orang Asli. 
Field study - Orang Asli  at  Belum Forest Reserve in Perak
JHEOA also pursued other programmes ranging from the development of entrepreneurship to provision of facilities and human development. There has been a lot of improvement in the living conditions of Orang Asli. However, the overall level standard of living and achievement are far behind other communities.  Poverty, low education achievement with a high drop out-rate, and persistence of infectious and parasitic diseases (malaria, tuberculosis, cholera, measles, whooping cough and scabies) are some of the indicators of under development.
Orang Asli children at school in a Resettlement Scheme 
Among Orang Asli communities, there exists a lot of variation in living conditions. Those near urban centre tend to be more equipped with facilities and exposed to modern living. In remote locations where accessibility posed a problem, livelihoods and life remain traditional, living by subsistence farming, hunting and gathering of jungle products.  In one extreme case the Jahai community in Royal Belum Forest Reserve (Perak), chose to live in the traditional way and refuse to stay in the regrouping scheme provided, and do not send their children to school. 
The Jahai Community at Belum Forest Reserve in Perak

No comments:

Post a Comment