The Batek of Malaysia
Professor Leslie Ruff
March 19, 2010
Malaysian history reflects the influence of the long succession of its immigrants and invaders brought with them the unique culture which has a big effect on Malaysian culture. Migration and Colonialism had the biggest impact on creating a multicultural and a diverse country. The Batek are a group called Batek or Bateg. They are native people who live in the rainforest of Peninsular Malaysia. The Batek are one of Malay’s Orang Asil, which means the original people in Malay. There are three groups divided into 18 ethnic sub-groups, representing 0.5 percent of the national population. Despite the small number, they are homogenous. Each group has its own language, culture, traditions and to the extent architecture. As urbanisation intensifies it puts traditional and modern life styles against each other. Many have left their ancient tribal heartlands to live and work in urban areas. In about the year of 1970 much of the inland Peninsular Malaysia was difficult to reach for the purpose of logging. The Batek are nomadic hunters, gathers and egalitarians as with other tribal groups, urbanization development and the logging of their traditional habitants has resulted in their numbers falling and have pushed them deep into the protected National Park of Taman Negra. There is somewhat of 750 remaining Batek living in this dense rainforest in an area twice the size of London, down the Sungai Tembeling River is the best way to access this remote region on a traditional wooden long boat. The journey is long, but it offers the chance to contemplate the density and vastness of the rainforest. The two main tribes have built around 20 villages in between the two. The settlement is located parallel to the river in a sandy, manmade clearing. The raising of the huts has nothing to do with the river being near; it encourages the air movement beneath the...
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