ORANG ASLI VOICES GOING SILENT ANDFACING EXTINCTION
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.