Origin of Batek People
“Batek” or Bateq are indigenous people who belonged and lived in the rainforest of Peninsular Malaysia. They also have known as the Ngok of the Forest People. These Bateq people have long bloodlines to the indigenous tribe of Semoq (in Johor), Mintil (in Ulu Gombak, Selangor) and Jahai (mostly located in the northern Perak). In the past decade, only 1,359 of the Batek population left been recorded. Due to the intrusion into their earlier habitat, nowadays they only can be found in Taman Negara Pahang National Park.
The outlook and characteristics
According to the records, these indigenous people of Batek have a wider root of the Mon-Khmer language family. Their migration to Malaysia dates back in thousands of years from Indo-China on foot across the mountains. Besides, they are also believed to have access to the interior of Malaysia through Thailand. Thus, this explained the similarity of their relatives with the indigenous people of Semoq, Negrito and Jahai. Overall, their physical features described with fine curly hair, sweet black skin, as well as round face shape.
The Batek’s Way of Life
- They still practice their traditions and customs. In terms of living, their huts were made from bamboo leaves and the shape look like barns. There are roughly about 15 to 20 cottages in their village in Kampung Dedari, Pahang.
- Survival depends on hunting wild animals and collecting forest products. This lifestyle is in line with their choice of living next to the forest as easier in restocking the household needs.
- Previously, the practice of the indigenous people of Batek was nomadic. However, nowadays with the help of the authorities, they have begun to live in specific locations and building permanent homes. At times, they also build the habit of moving into the woods or along the riverbank and setting up temporary shelters for the purpose of collecting forest products.
- The forest products are mostly their source of income for sale in the outdoor markets as well as for their daily use.
Religious Practice in Life
In the past, the Batek indigenous people had an animistic belief. They believed in the spirit of nature, the forest, and the animals. Throughout the consistent care of the authorities in the survival of these Batek people, many of them now have been exposed to religious life and more converts to Islam, Buddhism, and Christianity.