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Today is World Indigenous Day, and Malaysia is one of the many nations celebrating its native cultures. However, for the 18 Orang Asli groups of Peninsular Malaysia and scores of others in East Malaysia, not enough has changed in terms of their legal standing and standard of living.

The communities experience lower life expectancy, access to healthcare, electricity and running water as well as lower education levels and mean income. The situation was exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic and its accompanying movement control orders.

There are a number of reasons why these problems persist and at the heart of them is...

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