The Temuans of Damansara Perdana — Emily Ding



Before the buildings came up, Damansara Perdana used to be home to the Temuan people who tended to durian farms as one way to make a living. We find out how life is like for them after relocating from the land.

The 70-year-old Ismael Chat, headman of the Desa Temuan orang asli settlement in Damansara Perdana just outside Kuala Lumpur, is leading us up a hill, parang in hand to clear a path through the thick forest and the swarms of mosquitoes. “We haven’t come up here for a while,” he says. “We usually come during the durian season, but this year the trees have not borne much fruit. We don’t get as many as we used to.”

Later, we come to a small, overgrown clearing. “Here’s where our old kebun used to be,” he says. He pointed out the durian trees and remnants of the fruit, split open and decayed to black, littering the ground. Through the trees, we can see the gleaming, geometric outlines of high-rises. Read more