top of page

A deadly measles outbreak in Kampung Kuala Koh, Gua Musang, which claimed the lives of 15 Orang Asli form the Bateq tribe, has opened the eyes of the people to the many problems plaguing the indigenous folk and the measures that ought to be taken to ensure their wellbeing.

Living on the fringe of the forest near National Park in the Malaysian state of Kelantan, members of the Bateq tribe, the country’s last indigenous nomadic community, began experiencing a fever and breathing difficulties. Then, one by one, they started dying.

Orang Asli, meaning “original people”, is the term used for Malaysia’s indigenous people, who make up about 14 percent of the population.

Apart from the reported death and illness of Orang Asli in Kampung Kuala Koh, the Bateq tribe are struggling to live as the forest on which they depend for food and sustenance is cut down by plantation, mining and logging companies. These violations of their fundamental rights have adversely affected their physical health, security and livelihood as well as robbed them of their collective identity in an undignified way.

While most of Malaysia has enjoyed the trappings of wealth and progress in the more than 60 years since independence, the mass deaths and continued vulnerability of the Orang Asli from the Bateq tribe are a grim reminder that modernisation has had a far less healthy impact on the lives of the indigenous people, who also suffer administrative neglect.

The Vanishing

Bateq Tribe 


bottom of page