Development as Eradication: The Pillage of the Jakun ‘People’s Bank’ of Tasik Chini, Pahang, Malaysia
Journal: South East Asia Research
Publisher: I P Publishing Ltd.
The political rhetoric of social and economic development in Malaysia is used as a dominant and largely unquestioned discourse to justify the industrialised exploitation of the traditional territories of the indigeneous people of West Malaysia. This paper explores social policy drivers in respect of findings from a condensed ethnography of the Jakun Orang Asli people of Tasik Chini in the State of Pahang. Tasik Chini provides an important example of a wider problem affecting many Orang Asli communities in Malaysia relating to industrial exploitation, but is a case of special interest in respect of its significance as a site of rich and unique biodiversity as well as being the home of one of only two freshwater lakes in West Malaysia. Notably, Tasik Chini is also a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, of which there are only two in Malaysia, and where the lake and surrounding forests have provided the Jakun villagers with abundant natural resources for subsistence, but now the area is badly eroded and polluted by the ravages of big business. This presents a serious dilemma for the Jakun concerning resisting the destruction of their traditional way of life or to comply with State agendas and collude with their loss of self-sufficiency and autonomy and in so doing raises important questions regarding national social policy drivers and the position and welfare of indigenous people in Malaysia.