Biar Pete de Besuara
[The publication of this book is funded by UNDEF in collaboration with Malaysian CARE and Koperasi Sengoi Pribumi Perak, as stated on the back cover of the book.]
Saluji Yeok So Alu’s new book draws on his experiences protecting his customary land.
“Biar Peta de Besuara” reflects what has happened in the life of the 26-year-old indigenous Semai artist, and to his home in Kampung Ulu Penderas, in Perak.
Since July 2018, the villagers have reported to the police about encroachment. In February 2019, they set up a blockade to prevent contractors from going in to clear their traditional sites, ancestral graves and hunting grounds.
Saluji’s watercolour illustrations show that the Orang Asli do not need maps because they have a complete map in their heads and hearts, passed down through generations. But many are now caught in the middle, with little land left to plant and fewer places to hunt or fish.
The villagers are preparing documents to file a court case. Kampung Ulu Penderas is one of 30 Orang Asli villages in Perak which, with Malaysian CARE’s support, are equipping themselves to map and document their traditional land. They are monitoring their land to protect it against encroachment by mining, logging and plantation companies, or being acquired to build dams and highways.
[Proceeds from the sales of the book support efforts towards creating awareness on Orang Asli rights, specifically customary land rights, indigenous language and preservation of Orang Asli traditional knowledge. Examples of such activities including funding Saluji's art exhibition and producing related promotional materials. Books will be given free to Semai Orang Asli children involved in Orang Asli community-based education programmes and customary land protection initiatives and the like.]