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Silent Struggles Of Malaysia’s Orang Asli

The aboriginal people of Malaysia, also known as Orang Asli’s makeup 178,197 of our population[1]. As the first people group of the land, they should be far more progressive, if not, economically on par with the rest of Malaysian society. However, in 2000, they were identified as a vulnerable population with 83% of the population still living in poverty[2]

A study conducted earlier this year, focusing on the Orang Asli in Terengganu identified that all were earning less than RM880 a month[3], a figure that is way below the national poverty line of RM 2,208[4].

A majority of the Orang Asli population are still hunters and gatherers. Their lives and livelihood are closely connected with nature and the land. 

Source: Visit Terengganu

The struggle is real for this people group, especially during a pandemic. Many have lost their jobs and over the months, families were grappling with food security.

According to the Center for Orang Asli Concerns (COAC), government food aid programmes and cash stimulus packages had not been fully implemented and communities were desperate for help.

Source: COAC

Many Orang Asli communities were in a desperate situation as far as food was concerned towards the end of the first MCO. Local Coordinators were given cash to purchase the items the community needed and to account for them. – TACAO Campaign

Generosity In The Midst Of A Pandemic

THE Covid-19 Orang Asli Fund (TaC-OA) is a relief fund spearheaded by COAC, Raleigh International (KL) and Impian Malaysia. Together, they crowdfunded a total of RM353,730 and immediately utilised the monies to buy food and other necessities[5]

Source: COAC

In the first phase of the programme, they were able to provide food aid to 29,874 Orang Asli and have since moved onto the second phase where they hope to reach another 12 communities that are in need of food aid. 

Because of the wide publicity this campaign has had among the Orang Asli community, we continue to receive a steady stream of requests for food aid. As such, we will still accept donations from well-wishers who still wish to donate. And we will continue to disburse the full amount donated as food aid to those communities that are still not able to get the aid from other sources. TACAO Campaign

Speaking Up And Spurring The Orang Asli On

In order for their voices to be heard, several organisations have taken it upon themselves to amplify stories of the Orang Asli’s plight and triumph. As a society, we all can do better to emphasise and appreciate the first people group of this land. 

The list of organisations below is also actively giving a hand up to Orang Asli’s in the area of education, building homes and meeting basic needs. Get in touch with them and contribute your time, resources and skills.  

Explore Our Sources:

  1. Husin, KA. (2018). Demografi Orang Asli. Kementeriaan Pembangunan Luar Bandar. Link.
  2. Abdullah, MF. et al. (2019). Multidimensional Poverty Index of Marginalized Orang Asli in Terengganu, Malaysia. Pertanika Journals. Link.
  3. Ramli, MW. (2020). Keadaan ekonomi komuniti orang asli Semoq Beri di Kampung Sungai Berua, Terengganu. Research Gate. Link.
  4. Kaos, J. Zainal, F. (2020) National Poverty Line Revised. The Star. Link.
  5. Metro News. (2020). Covid-19 fund for Orang Asli successfully disbursed. The Star. Link.
  6. Center for Orang Asli Concerns (COAC). (2020). The TaC-OA Campaign Is Moving Into A New Phase. Facebook. Link.
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