5th Generation Orang Asli Community Members Sell Handmade Leaf-Print Shirts After Facing Eviction

Source: TourMAB

As far as using natural materials and being resourceful goes, these guys know how to do it.

Jamilah is a 5th generation member of the Mah Meri orang asli community. She and her husband have started making shirts using leaves to print as designs on T-shirts to sell as tourism merchandise.

Source: @SyazanaAli Twitter

The Mah Meri are one of Malaysia’s 18 recognised indigenous ethnic groups, who arrived in the 15th century on the shores of Bukit Bangkong, where they have mostly remained.

There are now 4,200 Mah Meri in Malaysia, living along Selangor’s west coast from Sungai Pelek up to Pulau Carey.

Earlier in August, the Mah Meri indigenous community faced eviction for developments of a beach resort, and have been fighting for their land ever since.

Source: DreamsTime

The Mah Meri families residing in the coastal town of Bagan Lagang, in Selangor state, were given 30 days to clear the area, at their own cost or face legal action.

After building 30 houses over the past 20 years, the families, five of whom are permanent residents, received an eviction notice on April 20, 2021, stating they had committed an offence by building structures on government land.

The notice, served by Sepang Land Office and Permodalan Negeri Selangor Bhd. (PNSB), warned the residents that they “could be fined up to RM500,000 or serve a five-year jail term, or both, if found guilty of the offence.”

“You are required to empty the land within 30 days of this notice, and all costs will be borne by you, and you are not allowed to seek any form of compensation,” the notice said.

Source: Pusaka

Their fight to stay on the lands, that they have foraged for more than 500 years, shines a light on the ongoing struggles between the orang asli and logging companies, property developers, and even their own state governments.

Struggling to make ends meet during this pandemic, Jamilah uses unique leaf patterns to make T-shirts. All products are handmade and the process takes up to 3 days to complete.

Source: @SyazanaAli Twitter

Best known for their weaving and wood carvings, they have not been able to sell their crafts to tourists and visitors in Pulau Carey because of movement restrictions.

If you’d like to help Jamilah and the people of the Mah Meri community grow by supporting their small local business, @SyazanaAli posted a thread on Twitter where she can be contacted to place orders!