MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku


Monday, August 30, 2021

OA artist Shaq upset over derogatory use of 'Jakun' by news portal


Orang Asli artist Shaq Koyok is upset and angry over the usage of the word Jakun in a headline by a widely read Malay language news portal.

Shaq told Malaysiakini that he was horrified to see the headline “Jijoe jakun posing depan jambatan” by Harian Metro on a piece about cyclist Azizulhasni Awang who was proudly posing in front of the Terengganu drawbridge in his home state.

In his original Facebook posting, the double Olympic medallist had said he doesn’t care if people call him jakong (Terengganu dialect for Jakun) for posing in front of the bridge in Terengganu.

Azizulhasni had since amended his Facebook post, removing the word jakong.

Harian Metro cited him directly and translated it into Bahasa standard by changing jakong to Jakun.

Even though the headline was subsequently changed, Shaq said it was an unpleasant episode.

“In 2021, we still see some Malaysians using Orang Asli Jakun as a derogatory term!

“Stop insulting Orang Asli in such a way! Do not mention the names of other people’s race to make a negative example,” he posted on Twitter.

Shaq, who is from the Temuan tribe, elaborated by telling Malaysiakini the usage of Jakun in such a manner was irresponsible and harmful.

“The media should be professional in their job. They should check the source of the words and educate themselves about the minority people in this country, especially about Orang Asli and racism,” he said.

With more than 20,000 members, the Jakun are the second largest of the 18 tribes of Orang Asli in Semanjung Malaysia and live largely in the forests of Johor and Pahang.

Their name has slipped into vernacular usage as a derogatory term indicating an unsophisticated person. This is similar to the term “sakai” which is a Thai word for Orang Asli but has been used in a demeaning manner in Malaysia.

Shaq’s friend Rosya, who is Jakun, said she was hurt by the incident.

“It’s so sad when people use my tribe’s name to refer to their appearance or attitude. Please educate yourself, I’m tired of educating my own friends. Only one or two of them accept my explanation and never repeat it.”

Shaq, who paints only Orang Asli subject matter to highlight the lives and issues of his people, lamented that even as Merdeka approaches, many have yet to learn to treat others with respect.

“I think the problem comes from the Malaysian education system, which doesn’t even teach the students about Orang Asli history and culture.

“This is the reason why many Orang Asli students didn’t finish their secondary school - because of racism. I ask my Orang Asli friends the reason why they dropped out. They said ‘Why bother to go to school when they get bullied and called many names all the time?’” said Shaq. - Mkini

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