Sue Jennings: The Temiar experience

The Orang Asli of Malaysia are constatly found to be fighting for their rights.

Social anthropologist Sue Jennings, 73 was in Penang recently to facilitate some programs on Drama Therapy. In an exclusive interview with Citizen Journalists Malaysia (CJMY), Sue Jennings shared her experience with the Temiars, a Senoic group indigenous to the Malay peninsula and one of the largest of the nineteen Orang Asli groups of Malaysia when she was pursuing her post-graduate studies in Malaysia.

“In the seventies (1972-1974) I lived in the rainforest with my 3 children aged 8, 12 and 14, about 20 miles from Gua Musang and it was a whole new experience.

“We learnt about the value system of the Temiars, the group I was studying for my post-graduate studies. They have an ethos of non-violence. They are non-competitive.  They do not hit their children, if for any reason, they do hit their children, they feel very remorseful after that. Their parents are very loving and warm.”

Sadly, all this has changed because the rainforest was cut down and replaced with oil palm instead, destroying your own habitat in the name of commerce.

“After all they have been here far earlier than the other races.  They are good at land conservation and they use the land well.

“They don’t cause mud slides, they know how to grow crop.  I think that people can learn a lot from the Orang Asli both in terms of their attitude to the environment and the techniques and skills of healing.”


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