Malaysiakini Yoursay

Yoursay: The decimation of Orang Asli's culture and language

Yoursay  |  Published:  |  Modified:

YOURSAY | 'Gov't should preserve diversity by encouraging children to understand their ancestral culture.'

Orang Asli voices may go silent as languages face extinction

Snowcrash: There is a concept called cultural genocide  – where it's not the people who are being killed, but their language, practices and history.

You can see that happening in history, and it continues to this day with the Native Americans and Aboriginal Australians, who were supposedly "saved" by having their children kidnapped and raised by foreign missionaries.

You see modern cases as well, like how Tibetan culture, as well as minority cultures like the Hokkiens and the Hakkas, are being subsumed by the Sinocentrism of the Han majority.

There are similar efforts in India, where efforts are consistently being made to supplant local minority languages like Tamil and Malayalam with Hindi.

Locally, of course, you can see the same not only with the Orang Asli as described above, but with other, smaller Malay subcultures as well.

Losing a culture and language is a devastating thing. So many of my friends already regret how their children can barely speak Cantonese, Tamil, Hokkien, etc. Imagine losing your history on top of that.

One would hope that the Education Ministry and the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry would encourage and formalise a practice where children are given time to understand, and at least know, their ancestral culture, instead of focusing on coming up with a monoculture.

Malaysia's strength is its diversity, and it would be terrible to lose that.

The Analyser: Languages have been going silent ever since humankind started to talk. And languages are constantly evolving, despite the efforts to bastardise other languages to fit the limitations of Bahasa Malaysia.

Like languages, the culture of the Orang Asli too must eventually disappear. That is the cost of progress.

What these minority cultures need is the sympathetic support of the government to ease the transition.

Anonymous_700ff2ab: Forget all languages. Just master English and Mandarin. These two languages are the most powerful and relevant.

ACR: Some of the comments are very condescending; a language is also a factor in keeping culture alive. Not everything needs to be evaluated from a monetary or economic standpoint.

Durian_Lazat: One of my first vivid memories of childhood was visiting an Orang Asli village outside Seremban. It was pure joy and excitement playing with the other children there. And I was so in awe of their lifestyle.

This memory has remained deep within me. But those deep virgin forests are almost gone.

It’s more than high time to draw the line, and respect the invaluable and irreplaceable worth of the oldest forests in the world. 

There are more than enough plantations, and their yield can be increased sustainably and in an environmentally friendly way with innovation.

Royal call for gov't to tackle rising cost of food

Vgeorgemy: As Perak ruler Sultan Nazrin Shah mentioned, there is obvious distress in the agricultural and plantation sectors, with low prices being fetched for the products compared to their cost of production. 

The low price of the farming output doesn’t result in low prices for the consumers.

We are in a vicious cycle of suffering for both the agricultural and consumer sectors. The Economic Action Council must come with a unique programme to address the imbalances in the marketplace to control the cost of living.

Just a Malaysian: The horse has bolted. It is too late to lock the gate. We have converted too much agricultural land into golf courses and housing estates.

We do not have a food security policy to ensure our basic staples are grown locally. We import a big percentage of our basic food.

Our limited land has reduced supplies of basic Malaysian staples like vegetables and pushed up prices of basic food like sweet potatoes, bananas, nangka, and papayas.

The demand continues to increase due to a growing population, but supply is dwindling at the same time. Salaries are stagnating due to low-value-added jobs.

We are building a perfect storm for catastrophe. The sultan’s warning is a little late but serves to wake us up to this fact.

Our country is in peril. This is no time for politics. Divisive politics at this crucial time will bring us further down to await the perfect storm to hit us.

Quo Vadis: It is necessary to know how the Pakatan Harapan government is addressing the daily rising cost of foodstuffs. 

Did the government not promise that with the removal of the goods and services tax, the prices of daily necessities would fall?

Does the finance minister have anything specific to announce, other than 1MDB issues related to past failures? What about the present situation? 

If nothing can be done, can he say so without hedging? Surely handouts are not the only way forward?

Ganesarasa Annarasa: Price increases are a universal phenomenon. It’s not something to be fought, it’s expected and should be prepared for.

Inflation is a good thing as it shows economic expansion. Too much inflation is bad. Hyperinflation is a sign of a failed or failing state. I don’t think we are in that category. But how much inflation is good is debatable.

So two questions to be answered are: how bad inflation in Malaysia is, and are prices of essential items rising in line with inflation.

Personally, I don’t think a rise in prices is the problem in Malaysia. I think we need to stop talking about the rising 'cost of living', as this is something that we all have to live with, and need to cope with. 

I think by being fixated with this, we are missing the real problem, which is disposable income. Disposable income is what you are left with after spending your income on essentials. The problem in Malaysia is a lot of people are in negative disposable income territory. 

Is this because of the rising 'cost of living' or low wages?

This is the real discussion we should be having. 'Negative disposable income' territory is a dangerous place to be as a nation, and this is the real problem that needs to be addressed urgently.


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These comments are compiled to reflect the views of Malaysiakini subscribers on matters of public interest. Malaysiakini does not intend to represent these views as fact.

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