The struggle of Orang Seletar against the development project by the Iskandar Development Regional Authority is a fight of survival to continue and reserve their way of life.
The development project is part of the massive southern economic corridor. There are nine Orang Asli Seletar villages in Malaysia, all of which are located along the southern coast of Johor. Seven out of these nine villages are located within the Iskandar Development Region.
Traditionally, Orang Seletar relies on richness of coast waters. They depend on sea for survival and land for daily activities and customary practices.
Land reclamation and property development are ongoing in the southern coast of Johor. These developments are hurting the Seletar people because it reduces the source of income as they are now restricted from entering the islands nearby and coast waters.
Orang Seletar is one of the 18 tribes that make up Orang Asli in Malaysia. They belong to the Proto-Malay group which is one of the three main groups of Orang Asli people. The Seletars are also known as the Sea Gypsies.
Orang Seletar believed to have originated from Seletar and Seletar Island, Singapore. They are the indigenous people of Singapore and one of the first settled on the island.
In the past, the Seletar people are part of the Sea Peoples who live in long boat and practice a nomadic way of life at sea, islands, coastal and river estuaries. However, now they are living in the land of Peninsular Malaysia and have their own villages.
Although Orang Seletar were originally part of the Sea Peoples, but now the Malaysian government has categorized them as part of the Orang Asli.
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