The Malaysian Dam Threatening To Destroy The Indigenous Way Of Life (2000)

Selangor Dam (2000): Another dam, and another indigenous group fighting to preserve their patch of jungle.

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By the brown waters of the Selangor, a woman of the Orang Asli sings her lament. “People are taking our land, our tears are falling.” Around her village hang the lush boughs of the rainforest trees that spring from the river banks – this is one of the most species-rich forests on the planet. The proposed government dam on the Selangor river will drown 1000 hectares of Orang Asli land to direct water to Malaysia’s capital. These animist people are determined to see off the threat to their patch of forest. And if they don’t, they believe there will be cataclysmic retribution from forest spirits. The Orang Aslii have allied with environmental groups, including the WWF who believe the dam will disrupt the region’s water cycle causing havoc in the long term. Rafters who make a living taking thrill-seeking tourists down the river’s raging rapids are also fighting the case. Despite offers of compensation these forest people are sticking to their homeland. This maligned ethnic group are highly suspicious of a government which it believes are trying to assimilate them. “It looks like the [dam] plans are just an excuse, when in truth the government just wants to take land which belongs to the Orang Asli.”

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