Orang Batek village lights up for the first time

Yvonne Lim

KAMPUNG Aur is the second Batek village in Taman Negara to start using electric lights — for the first time ever.

Located along the border of the national park, some 9km away from Kuala Tahan and accessible only by boat through the Tembeling River, the village has no electrical facilities. Its villagers lead a nomadic lifestyle, often spending long periods in the jungle where they hunt and gather for what they need.

However, with logging and plantation activities threatening their way of life, the tribe is forced to find other sources of income, such as craft and tourism. They are also starting to prioritise schooling for their children.

The electric lights they received on August 8 will be helpful for villagers to work on their craft work, as well as for the children to do their school work at night, said Manderu, who is Tok Batin or headman of Kampung Aur.

He added that the lights will also be useful for tourists staying overnight in the village, as they may not be as accustomed to the darkness.

“Before this we used oil lamps. But those are dangerous. If we accidentally hit one over in our sleep, our whole huts get burned,” Manderu said.

The electric lights — rechargeable portable LED lamps that are powered by solar panels — were sponsored by architecture firm Veritas Design Group, construction firm Haskell Malaysia, and Lewis and Clark College in Portland, USA, through the Kampungku initiative by conservation non-profit organisation EcoMy.

Last year, under the same initiative, Kampung Dedari which is neighbour to Kampung Aur, received similar rechargeable lights and solar chargers. Kampung Dedari has since opened several “jungle huts” near the village, where they accommodate tourists. — August 30, 2018.

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