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Geographical Index > United States > Malaysia (International) > Article # 489

Media Article # 489


Friday, February 24, 2006

[Malaysia terminology]

New Straits Times


KOTA TINGGI, Feb 24: Foreign experts should be invited to help in the search for the Johor Bigfoot.


Foreign Affairs Minister and Kota Tinggi MP Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar said this was necessary as the search had attracted international attention.

Speaking after opening an award ceremony for teachers here, he said reported sightings of the hairy creature had benefited the district, especially in attracting foreign visitors.

Syed Hamid added he was inclined to believe in the existence of the Bigfoot, as there had been many sightings of the creature.

Meanwhile, zoologist Amlir Ayat said it would also help if a common name was used for the Bigfoot.

He felt it would be a good idea to adopt the name "Orang Dalam" used by the Orang Asli, like the name Sasquatch for the American Bigfoot, which originated from the Red Indians. Amlir said there was also a need to clear the confusion among villagers of mawas or orang utan and the Johor Bigfoot.

According to the book Natural History of Primates, mawas is used in the Southeast Asian region to refer to the orang utan (Pongo pygmaeus) which can grow to a height of 1.8m.

Villagers in Kampung Mawai Lama in Kota Tinggi said they were familiar with mawas and were sure it was not the same as Bigfoot.

"The mawas’ feet are not as big as the footprints that have been discovered so far. I have seen the giant footprints myself and am certain it was not made by mawas," said fisherman Islah Midi, 62.

His nephew, Ariffin Ali, 38, said he had seen a footprint of the Bigfoot measuring more than 60cm in the jungles of Endau while searching for timber a few years ago.

He said he was positive the footprint was not that of a mawas.


BFRO Commentary:

Comment submitted by Leon Tan (leon@imaginex.com.my) in Malaysia

Leon writes:

Orang Dalam, in Bahasa Malaysia (the Malaysian language), seem to point to a variety of meanings, which doesn't seem like a good strong name as it means so many things to the average Malaysian.

It can mean, literally, "People Inside", it could also mean "Hidden People", "Insiders" (as in people within an organisation with connections), "People of the Interior" or even "The Inner Self".

FYI, the average Malaysian would never have heard of "Orang Dalam", it was the first time I heard it in fact, although I am familiar with Bigfoot-like sightings in the past.

Also, any name with "Orang" ("People") in connection with the jungle always has supernatural connotations, except for orangutan (obviously) or Orang Asli (aboriginals). Orang Bunian ("whistling (?) people") means forest spirits who enchant & lead jungle travellers astray, Orang Halus ("fragile people") are forest fairies who stay out of people's way, Orang Pendek ("short people") supposedly a mysterious short primate with a description not unlike Homo Habilis.

If we're entering the supernatural, I'd go with something more spectacular like "Hantu Jarang Gigi", Snaggled-tooth Demon/Ghost. That's intimidating.

Personally, if we are to make the creature more of a natural primate as opposed to a ghost story, I would suggest a name more down to earth, something that would connect it as a living, normal primate. "Mawas Besar" maybe ("Giant Ape"), or even "Mawas Johor" ("Johor Ape"). There would be no confusion with orangutans as there are none Johor (and I think also in Peninsular Malaysia).


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