Education & Community

Reimagining Inclusive Development: A Spatial Justice and Multidimensional Poverty Perspective on the Orang Asli in Malaysia

1. Oxford Poverty & Human Development Initiative (OPHI), University of Oxford, England
2. Department of Sociology, University of Essex, England
3. Māori and Indigenous Studies, University of Canterbury, New Zealand


Towards A Brighter Future for Malaysia’s Orang Asli Communities
Growing up as an Orang Asli from the Jakun tribe in a small kampung, Masni Mat Dong understood, from an early age, the troubles that her people went through. Born from an underpriviliged family, she was raised by her aunt and uncle who were farmers in Pahang. Despite having limited resources, her growing growing years were full of joy. From an early age, she knew that good education was her ticket to escape poverty and hardship.

The trailblazer of her tribe
Masni was the first and only female Orang Asli to ever receive the prestigious Award Grant for International Attachment. Her research titled “Reimagining Inclusive Development: A Spatial Justice and Multidimensional Poverty Perspective on the Orang Asli in Malaysia” is aimed at uplifting the quality of life of the Orang Asli in Malaysia and to explore the root cause of spatial injustice and multidimensional poverty among the Orang Asli, and to address various forms of inequality and their impact on the well-being of the community.
Despite Malaysia’s long independence, the Orang Asli are still fighting for their land rights and facing poverty. Not only that, they also encounter various obstacles and challenges, including community displacement and the erosion of their cultural heritage, owing to their remote locations.
Through her research, Masni seeks to empower the Orang Asli by involving them in decision-making processes through participatory and inclusive approaches that recognise their culture, history, and values.
The power of One person can lead to many possibilities
Now a lecturer at Pahang’s Tunku Abdul Rahman University of Management and Technology, Masni looks forward to undergoing her attachment at Oxford Poverty & Human Development Initiative (OPHI), University of Oxford, England.
With three options of host universities for her international attachment, it will be an excellent platform for her to collaborate, learn and grow. She will gain a global perspective, thanks to industry experts and return to Malaysia with better knowledge which she can put into good use for the betterment of Orang Asli.
She will get the opportunity to work with policy makers, stakeholders, NGOs, anyone that has anything to do with Orang Asli. This connection is especially important when there are policy interventions that target the fundamental causes of spatial injustice and poverty among the Orang Asli, including securing land rights, establishing basic infrastructure, and promoting sustainable livelihoods to improve their overall quality of life.
Her vision is simple yet powerful: to see a future where Orang Asli’s quality of life significantly improves - where they are empowered, and where sustainability is ensured through continuous engagement and promotion of sustainable livelihoods, based on local resources and traditional knowledge.


The information in this award recipient's profile is accurate to the best of our knowledge as of the time the award was presented. Any subsequent changes, updates, or developments in the individual's life or achievements may not be reflected in this profile.


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