Esquire: I spoke to this girl who’s studying at university. She said it’s been difficult for her because she’d come to school and kids would be like, “You’re Orang Asli, you don’t know anything.”
Shaq Koyok: Absolutely. I had the same when I studied in university, but I found a way to attack the problem by showing my strength: my art. And they respect you. People would say so many things: “Are you dirty? Did you take a shower?” At university! Sometimes, I’d say an outrageous thing, like, “Yeah, I swam in the mud.” I got it in school too, the teasing. There’s nothing on indigenous people, even in [the university library]. What I do is always about indigenous people; I want to educate with my art. That’s the only way I can change the mindset of Malaysians [about indigenous people]
NOTE: *”The State of Orang Asli Education and Its Root Problems”, part of a longer consultancy report entitled “Orang Asli: Rights, Problems, Solutions” prepared in July 2006 for the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam). See also, Suhakam’s report, “Laporan Status Hak Pendidikan Kanak-kanak Orang Asli (2010).