A huge network of colors, sounds, and actions that make up a tapestry of indigenous heritage, is alien to big city dwellers. The current global focus on the big city has forced the dissolution of such a tapestry globally, not least of which is Mayasia’s indigenous groups, which have, for eons constituted the population of the country. Together with this network of cultures, is there set of Orang Asli languages.

The Orang Also comprises between seventeen and nineteen ethnic groups, but usually seen as eighteen. Having resided in what is now Malaysia, both peninsula and East (Borneo), the Orang Asli are seen as being divided into three main groups – the Negrito, the Proto-Malay and the Senoi, each of which, is further divided into six groups.

The eighteen ethnic groups include: the Semang group, Кеnsiu, Кintaq, Lanoh, Jahai, Меndriq, Batek; the Senoi group, Теmiar, Semai, Semaq Beri, Jah Hut, Маh Meri, Cheq Wong; the Proto-Malay group, Jakun, Теmuan, Semelai, Кuala, Кanaq, and the Seletar.

Yet such urbanization is devastatingly altering the makeup of Malaysia’s indigenous groups, to the point where they may disappear within 20-30 years, a phenomenon that has occurred repeatedly. For example, the Kenaboi ethnic group, with its highly unique culture and language, dwindled to the point where it necessarily integrated with the larger Temuan ethnic group, and its language and culture ultimately became extinct. In 1880, researcher DFA Hervey was able to compile and document approximately 300 lexical items and publish these in his work, Pagan Races of the Malay Peninsula (WW Skeat and CO Blagden), which was published early in the twentieth century.

Yet these communities may be self-preserving and sustainable, through a phenomenon labelled as ethnic reversion.

These eighteen groups make up the full Orang Asli, and have resided in the land for over four thousand years. Yet, their numbers are dwindling now, owing largely to urbanization, deforestation, at a little over 200,000 in number.

The Orang Asli are a diverse group of people and are hence distinctly unique in ways, not only from each other, but also from the larger Bumi Putra Malays.

These groups are nomadic, and hence, their remoteness and seclusion restrict the efforts of the government and other bodies to conduct an accurate census.