Monday, 12 September 2011

"Hak DiNafikan" Rights Denied...

When it comes to race and ancestry in Malaysia, it is so easy to be confused not only by the diversity but also the terminology used in definition of racial groups. Also, if there was no need to segregate for reasons of preferential socio-economic privileges, then race will only be something that we are born as.

Indigenous Peoples in Malaysia 

Peninsular Malaysia
The Orang Asli consist of 19 ethnic sub-groups officially classified for administrative purposes as Negrito, Senoi and Aboriginal Malay. They number 133,000, representing a mere 0.7% of the national population. In spite of their small number, the Orang Asli are not homogeneous, each group having its own language and culture and, most importantly, perceiving itself as different from the others. They also have different ways of life and livelihoods, with some groups (e.g. Orang Laut, Orang Seletar and Mah Meri) living close to the coast as fisherfolk, some (Temuan, Jakun and Semai) adopting permanent agriculture, planting cash crops such as rubber, oil palm or cocoa, while many (around 40%, including Semai, Temiar, Che Wong, Jah Hut, Semelai and Semaq Beri) continue to live close to or within forested areas and engage in swidden farming, hunting and gathering. Some groups from the Negrito branch (e.g. Jahai and Lanoh) are still semi-nomadic, preferring to take advantage of the seasonal bounties of the forest. With the growth of urban centers and their intrusion into the lifestyle of the Orang Asli, a fair number now also live in urban areas and are engaged in both waged and salaried jobs.

Sabah is characterized by ethnic pluralism, with more than 30 different indigenous groups, including Kadazan, Dusun, Rungus, Murut, Sungai and Lundayeh. They speak more than 50 languages and 80 dialects. The Dusunic, Murutic and Paitanic groups are the larger of the ethnic groups. The indigenous population in Sabah makes up approximately 60% of the state's population and the majority live in the rural areas. The Kadazan-dusuns, who are the most dominant ethnic group, occupy western, northern and central Sabah. The Rungus communities reside on the northern part of Sabah. The Murut communities are found in the south-west interior of Sabah while the Sungai occupy the eastern part of interior Sabah. Lundayeh communities are found in the southern part, near the border with Sarawak and Kalimantan.

The diverse land forms, soils, climates and vegetation provide a diverse agro-ecosystem for the many indigenous communities. The indigenous peoples are mostly subsistence farmers who practise diversified agriculture, including cultivation of wet and hill rice, vegetables and fruit trees. The rural farmers often pursue a wide range of livelihood activities. Parts of the production system are devoted to subsistence while others are for income generation. Rotational agriculture in its pure form as the major source of subsistence is becoming increasingly rare. Permanent farming of annual and perennial crops, as well as off-farm activities, are often economically more important. Apart from farming, many of the land-based indigenous communities rely on the diverse forest resources for food, medicine, fuel, building materials and other household needs. There are many fishing communities along the coastline and around river mouths. Their cash income is derived mainly from surplus food crops, cash crops and fish sold at the market. A large number of indigenous peoples also hold posts in various government departments, or are in some way connected to the local administrative structure.

The indigenous peoples in Sarawak make up around 50% of the state's population. Officially, there are 28 indigenous groups listed. However, there are at least 37 known groups and sub-groups, including Iban, Penan, Kenyah, Kayan, Kelabit, Ukit, Sekapan, Lahanan and Punan Bah.

The indigenous peoples of Sarawak practise rotational cultivation with an emphasis on rice plantation, supplementing their diet through hunting and gathering forest produce. A small number of the Penan community still lead a nomadic life, hunting and gathering, while the rest of the community has now either settled or is partially settled. The rural indigenous communities depend on the river for their drinking water, food, washing and transportation. The indigenous population in Sarawak has also been integrated into plantation projects involving the cultivation of cash crops such as oil palm, pepper, cocoa and rubber trees. Others work in the timber industry and there are those who have migrated to urban areas

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