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Batek Orang Asli still have strong traditional beliefs - Lecturer

Last Update: 12/06/2019

By Rohaiza Ab Rahman

KOTA BHARU, June 12 (Bernama) -- The Orang Asli community from the Batek tribe whose majority have embraced Islam still strongly hold to the traditional beliefs inherited from their ancestors for generations.

Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin (UniSZa), Applied Social Sciences Faculty lecturer Dr Mohamad Asmawi Ibrahim said based on his observations on the community, not much of Islamic influence could be seen in the behavioral patterns of the tribe.

He said the Batek tribe still believed in the existence of certain entities or supernatural beings who have power and influence over their lives.

"The entities are called 'Hala', 'Asal', 'Karei', and 'Gobar'. The names are symbols of eternal power and often referred to as extraordinary powers or spirits called 'Orang Hidup',” he told Bernama here today.

Mohamad Asmawi said his observations in 2017 also found that the beliefs were still practiced in various contexts of their lives until today.

Mohamad Asmawi said among the examples pertaining to the beliefs included that the women and elders would say 'Gobar' when thunder roars.

"Gobar is associated with an extraordinary creature that guards the rivers and the universe as well as human conduct," he said.

He said Batek Orang Asli believed that human beings who violated the rules set would make Gobar angry and the anger would be shown by sending thunder or lightning and other natural disasters such as massive floods and drought.

The tribe also believed that Hala had the power to create nature and its contents while providing sustainable resources for sustainability, he said.

He added that Hala was said to have an intermediary ability to control the world of spirits and  the supernatural as well as being the first reference when there was a disease-related problem.

"The Batek people continue to follow the beliefs and taboos so that they will be safe and to avoid disastesr," he said.

Mohamad Asmawi said they were also afraid of breaking the taboos out of fear that it would cause them harm or damage.

The plight of the Batek tribe in Kampung Kuala Koh, Gua Musang came to attention after two of them were suspected to have died of pneumonia early last month. 

The media had previously reported that they claimed to have been plagued by a mysterious illness, resulting in a number of deaths.

Yesterday, the Health Ministry said that there were 14 Orang Asli deaths in the area but only two were confirmed to be from pneumonia and the actual cause of death would be known soon after the tests had been completed.

-- BERNAMA     




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