Orang Seletar caught in a fishing rut

Pictures by: 
Mohd Ishak
Report by: 
Zaihan Mohamed Yusof

To the Orang Seletar, the indigenous people of Johor, the sea has always brought life and sustenance. For centuries, generations of Orang Seletar, who were once a common sight in the waters near Singapore’s Seletar Island, fished as their source of livelihood. 

But for the residents of Simpang Arang, a village in Gelang Patah, Johor, that may not be the case in the future. The Orang Seletar there complain of being hit by a “curse” that has made the sea sick. Fishermen return with poor catches, making earning a living from the sea a dire prospect. 

Fortunately, some help from the government in terms of housing, petrol subsidies and education, have reduced the Orang Seletar’s financial burdens. But is it enough? 

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