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Orang Seletar in Malaysia

Orang Seletar

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Orang Seletar in Malaysia map
Population [2] Language Religion % Christian % Evangl Online NT Jesus Film Progress
1,900 Orang Seletar Ethnic Religions 5.00 % 3.00 % No No   

Orang Seletar in Malaysia

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Introduction / History
The Orang Seletar are one of the nineteen Orang Asli people groups living in Peninsular Malaysia. The Malaysian government classifies them under the Aboriginal Malay (officially called Proto-Malay) subgroup. Nearly half of the Orang Seletar ethnic group of 1,700, also live in northern Singapore.

They are a maritime people, the descendants of the Orang Laut or sea people who constituted the original navy of the Malaccan Sultanate and played a pivotal role in the region's history. Originally from the Spice Islands in Indonesia, five hundred years ago they roamed the Straits of Malacca in bands, raiding, burning, and pillaging. They were the old pirates of South East Asia. The Orang Seletar have settled down in the states of Johor and Selangor. They no longer live in boats but in huts built on water. In some places, they live in houses built on land.

What are their lives like?
The Orang Seletar have been generally integrated into the Malay community to the extent that they are in danger of forgetting the central role they played in early Malaysian history. In fact, some royal families in Malaysia have Orang Seletar ancestors! Those who have retained their old nomadic lifestyle prefer to live by the sea and remain one of the poorest minority groups of Asia. They are specialists in harvesting the produce of the sea, shore, and mangroves for their own consumption and for trade. Presently, they strive to survive through harvesting fish, rearing mussels, and catching prawns and crabs in the waters along the Tebrau Straits. The sea, however, has become polluted and their food sources are deteriorating. A few have found jobs at nearby restaurants and factories. The Orang Seletar are still nomads, but for a different reason - they are forced to move from where they are living whenever there is government acquisition of land. In some areas, development activities have caused much anxiety and frustration among the affected villagers while they hope to get fair and adequate compensation to build their new communities.

What are their beliefs?
Many Orang Seletar worship spiritual beings believed to dwell in the coastal areas and in the depths of the sea. In contrast, death and illness are bound to the land. They go ashore to heal the sick or to bury their dead.

While spirits (hantu) roam everywhere - on trees, under water and rocks, in caves, and even in the air - the sole condition of this sea-people is respect. They believe that failure to respect the environment - the abode of the spirits - results in illness, conflict, and death. The only cure lies in exorcism and appeasement of the spirits.

What are their needs?
The Orang Seletar are one of the poorest of the poor in Malaysia. Formal education and vocational training would be helpful to the Orang Seletar. There are ongoing needs such as the setting up of infrastructure in their region which remain addressed. Pray for believers who can assist in these needs of the Orang Seletar.

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Country: Malaysia
Continent: Asia
Region: Asia, Southeast
Persecution Rank:40 (Only top 50 ranked, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
10/40 Window: Yes
Location in Country:Peninsular, Johor State, southeast coast around Kukuo, Johore Bahru, east and north.
(Source: Ethnologue 2016)
  Peoples [3]
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People Name in Country: Orang Seletar
People Name General: Orang Seletar
Alternate People Names:
Orang Selitar
ROP3 Code: 107671
Joshua Project People ID: 14209
Indigenous: Yes
Population in Country: 1,900
Population all Countries: 3,100
Least-Reached: No
Affinity Bloc: Malay Peoples
People Cluster: West Malaysia Indigenous
People Name General: Orang Seletar
Ethnic Code: AUG05
Ethnic Relationships: Affinity Bloc -> People Cluster -> Peoples Ethnicity Tree
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Primary Language: Orang Seletar (1,900 Speakers)
Language Code (ISO): ors    Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages: 1
Religion [4]
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Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Major Religions:
Buddhism0.00 % 
Christianity5.00 %(Evangelical: 3.00 %)
Ethnic Religions95.00 % 
Hinduism0.00 % 
Islam0.00 % 
Non-Religious0.00 % 
Other / Small0.00 % 
Unknown0.00 % 
Christianity Segments:
Anglican0.00 %
Independent5.00 %
Protestant75.00 %
Orthodox0.00 %
Other Christian0.00 %
Roman Catholic20.00 %
(Evangelicals distributed across Christianity segments)
Progress Indicators [5]
Progress Scale[6]   Evangelicals have a modest presence.
Least-Reached: No
GSEC Status:Level 4   Greater than or equal to 2% Evangelical
Bible Translation Status
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Bible Portions: Help start a Bible Translation
New Testament: None Reported
Complete Bible: None Reported
Ministry Resources [7]
Audio RecordingsMegaVoice Audio Bible and Stories
Audio RecordingsAudio Bible teaching (GRN)
Ministry Activity
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Data Notes
Data Sources

Orang Seletar in Malaysia

Global                 Global
  Affinity Bloc             Global  
People Cluster
    West Malaysia Indigenous     Asia, Southeast    
      Orang Seletar Malaysia    
            People-by-Country (Profile)          
            Orang Seletar in Malaysia          
      Religion Language  
      Ethnic Religions     Orang Seletar  
    All Religions                              

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