Strong roots keep you steady

SHARING HER EXPERIENCE: Puah talking about the culture of indigenous communities in Malaysia.

INTERNING at the Centre for Orang Asli Concern helped Puah Sze Ning appreciate the culture of the indigenous people, as well as her own.

Growing up, she was often ridiculed about coming from Klang and was somewhat ashamed of her roots.

“I was an angry teenager and couldn’t understand why people hold on to such rituals as burning “hell money” during the Hungry Ghost festival,” she said.

But her time with the Orang Asli taught her that the modern and the cultural should co-exist.

The 28-year-old photographer and documentary maker slowly learned how the Orang Asli were so self-reliant and selfless, and her admiration for them grew.

She first noticed this when she visited Semai communities in Perak and Pahang. “I would thank them whenever they helped me with my bags or gave me food, but when I returned the favour, I didn’t get the same reaction. It felt weird,” she said.

Her mentor explained that the community reacted that way because they didn’t think they were doing her any favours. “Whatever they did, they did because they felt it was their responsibility to ensure the well being of everyone in the community,” she said.

Puah said the Orang Asli are not as backward as some may think. Through electricity supplied to their villages by micro hydro-dams, they are able to connect with the rest of the world through cellphones and the Internet, which they are using to bring their plight to greater attention.

“They move with the times but still hold strongly to their cultural identity, beliefs and practices — that’s a lesson that I’ve taken to heart,” she said. Perhaps, we all should. — JO TIMBUONG

Related Stories: Mountains are doable Take that leap of Faith Technology a tool for transformation No one is an island A Catalyst for change

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 1
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3

Did you find this article insightful?


Next In Tech News

Opinion: Threat of the digital giants and their unfettered trade monopolies
Google’s Messages app rolls out global support for successor to SMS
Contact lenses worthy of James Bond to zoom and film in a blink of an eye
Will remote working be the new norm in tomorrow’s world?
Facebook’s AI mistakenly bans ads for struggling businesses
HTTPS only: Firefox now blocks websites without encrypted connections
PlayStation 5 giveaways: Real deal, phishing or data scam?
For Big Tech, Biden brings a new era but no ease in scrutiny
Twitter has flagged 200 of Trump’s posts as ‘disputed’ or misleading since the US election day – does it make a difference?
China tops world in AI patent filings, surpassing the US for the first time

Stories You'll Enjoy