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About the Author

Lara Smallman
Campaigner, film-maker, blogger (London, United Kingdom)

Self-taught film-maker interested in exploring human rights issues. See more on larasmallman.com.

Post

To convert or not to convert? That is the question. (Findings from Malaysia trip)

Published 28th August 2010 - 12 comments - 2795 views -

Call it what you will, incentives, rewards or just a helping hand, Malaysia's indigenous people are flooded with offers of help. But just as the saying goes, there is no such thing as a free lunch, and these offers are certainly not 'no strings attached'...

I examine ongoing claims that the Orang Asli are coming under increasing pressure to convert, not just from missionaries, but from the Government too. In return, they receive privileges and even the occasional luxury.
Living in poverty, many are left with a choice between religious freedom or a better life…They come from missionaries, and allegedly, from the government too, who for some reason

They come from a whole host of missionaries, and allegedly, from the government too. All you have to do to get the carrot is convert. If the government had it their way, to Islam, in an attempt to make Malays out of the Orang Asli community. But Christian and Baha'i missionaries are just as keen to have them join their clan.

That's not all though. Talking about indigenous issues (whether it be the right to self determination, land loss, status, aid), is forbidden in public. Just what is the government trying to hide? Maybe it's the fact that they are seeking to 'eradicate the category of aboriginal peoples in Malaysia' or the prohibition on 'converting to other religions, thus curtailing their religious freedoms.' [See the Indigenous Peoples' Movements' article 'The Orang Asli of Malaysia for more information'].

Last week a group of Th!nk3-ers travelled to Malaysia. During our time there we visited the Mah Meri community.

In this short video, I examine the ongoing claims that the Orang Asli are coming under increasing pressure to convert. Living in poverty, many are left with a choice between religious freedom or a better life… 

[Apologies for the limited footage, my flip camera lasted just five minutes in the humidity of the mid-day sun, so this was filmed on a digital camera].

   

 

 


Category: Human Rights | Tags:


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