“I work as a lawyer for Natives (indigenous people). We try to assist natives in claiming the land that they’ve been living on for generations. These include the Iban, Kadazan Dusun, and others who have been in this land for so long.

“I work as a lawyer for Natives (indigenous people). We try to assist natives in claiming the land that they’ve been living on for generations. These include the Iban, Kadazan Dusun, and others who have been in this land for so long.

They don’t have a land title, so when the state eliminates the ‘geran’ (land grant) and give it to a timber company who may not have a title or geran but usually has a license to fell timber, that’s when the conflict starts. When a company comes in, saying they have the ‘geran’, the natives fight back, saying ‘we have been here for generations, why are you taking our land?’.

Normally when they claim lands, there are 2 parts to it.

The first one is for their houses, the clearings and their gardens, and the others are reserved for fishing, hunting, and foraging.

Then in 2016, the Federal Court decided that the natives cannot claim areas where they forage for food and go hunting.

Effectively, that meant many natives could no longer have a source of livelihood, especially if you are Orang Penan.

They are a nomadic people who move around every few years to new locations and survive by hunting food in the jungle. Some of them work. Younger generations work in the city, but for the elders, they are in the longhouse and tend to the crops and raise farm animals.

Us people living in KL are aware of our rights, we are more suburban and more individualistic, but the Orang Asli are more communal, more welcoming and forgetful of the consensus of the group to build anything.

So when it comes to the court, which wants more details on things, the Orang Asli are not as meticulous.

It’s difficult to reach their kampungs (villages), by plane or 4×4 cars, and logistics is an issue.

But we need to bring more awareness to them. They need someone to tell them what are their rights and to speak about their rights.

They must be willing to accept change – I am but just a small Chinese girl trying to help”.

– Humans of Kuala Lumpur

“I have been a refugee my whole life.”

“I have been a refugee my whole life.

My parents fled to Iran when Russia attacked Afghanistan. My siblings and I were all born in Iran. In 2004, we moved back to Afghanistan. For about 10 years, I lived in Afghanistan; I was studying Spanish Literature at Cavard University. In 2013, I had to move to Malaysia because of the war that happened in my home country.

As a refugee, I face many challenges because I don’t have any rights. I always live in fear and I can’t ask the government for help because I don’t exist. But I still need to make a living. I need to eat. I do work but we are underpaid. Sometimes, some bosses don’t want to pay me in the end because I don’t have any documents. And I can’t do anything about it.

I met many refugees who came to tell me that they have worked for their bosses for more than a few months, and yet are not getting paid. Sometimes they get injured during work and they don’t have insurance to cover it. They have to pay their own medical bills, and healthcare services are expensive.

Sometimes I get tired but I know that I’m not living for myself. I am also living for my parents and siblings. I need to be alive to take care of the people in my life. That is why I am still here. But at least we are trying. We are trying our best and when our applications are not successful, we still keep trying.

My only plan now is to wait for UNHCR to get me resettled to a place where I can have my proper documentation, get health insurance and study in a university.

I want to thank all the Malaysians I have met. They don’t care where you are from and they are very kind and friendly. I want to also say that there is a large group of refugees living in Malaysia. They need help and support because they are living in a very bad condition.

27 years now, I’m still a refugee, I’m already getting used to it.”

– Humans of Kuala Lumpur

Photostory by Victor Raj and Samantha Siow
Edited by Sydrah M

“I used to dress like a tomboy. All black and blue, baggy pants and graphic t-shirts, looking like a plumber. I was into the whole ‘skater’ fashion.”

“I used to dress like a tomboy. All black and blue, baggy pants and graphic t-shirts, looking like a plumber. I was into the whole ‘skater’ fashion.⁣

After a while, I was told to be more aware of my presentation to the world. I felt a bit invisible too. Some people dress like that to be invisible. ⁣

It got difficult for people to acknowledge you. I have to say that, people who don’t put much effort into dressing nicely is sending a message across, that you are not bothered by how you look. ⁣

Its not that you cannot afford the look, you have to be presentable in a certain manner to show that you are serious, that you are to be noticed, and to be taken into account and be visible. ⁣

And lately I’ve been embracing my feminity, and thinking how I should present myself in a better, more thoughtful and professional way to the world. Wearing skirts was the hardest thing for me. Friends always commented on how I would always sit with my legs wide open. But it’s getting better now, I’m actually enjoying it. ⁣

Beauty is in the eyes of the creator, not the beholder. If thats what you want to show, then so be it. ⁣

God created us, God thinks we are beautiful. I just made a more conscious decision on how I want to present myself to the world.

– Follow us @thehumansofkl on Instagram for more human stories!

Photostory by Mushamir Mustafa

 

“I got this ring when I was 20. It’s a family tradition – when one of us turns 21, my mom would give us a piece of jewellery to mark adulthood.”

“I got this ring when I was 20. It’s a family tradition – when one of us turns 21, my mom would give us a piece of jewellery to mark adulthood.

Both my brothers received theirs when they reached 21, but there is no real reason why I got my ring early. My mom had simply taken it out of the box and did not want to forget where she put it, so she gave it to me while I was still 20. It wasn’t because I became an adult earlier!

Actually, most people think I’m in a relationship when they see the ring, but to be honest, the ring finger is the only finger where it fits!

I’m not sure why we have this tradition and I’m not sure if it’s a cultural thing either. In Chinese culture, it’s usually a big deal when someone turns 21. When I have my own kids, I won’t give them this ring, because it’s the only one that I have. However, I might pass down something else of mine to keep the tradition going.”

– Humans of Kuala Lumpur
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This story was produced as part of the Storytelling Workshop with Youth Beyond Boundaries – YBB. A big thank you to @mesmarazin and @soonzhengfai for the story!

After 7 years working in IT, like what seemed an eternity, I had no passion for it and didn’t motivate me. I wasn’t excited to wake up in the morning to go to work and I had no desire to learn new things and improve myself.

“After 7 years working in IT, like what seemed an eternity, I had no passion for it and didn’t motivate me. I wasn’t excited to wake up in the morning to go to work and I had no desire to learn new things and improve myself. In IT it’s all rules and procedures, there’s no room for creativity.

So I took a pay cut to become a writer. Writing is something that I liked. Also, I miss using the right side of my brain (creativity). Throughout my life, my passion has always been football, movies, and writing.

I’m too old for sports now, not good looking enough to be an actor, but I can write.

When the boss asked me how serious I am with this career change, I replied, “I’m taking a pay cut to have this job, leaving my old comfort zone. How much more serious can I be?

I told him that if I improve my writing and I deserve it, then give me a raise.

After 4 months on the job, I got promoted to Senior Writer. So far the job hasn’t been a bed of roses, but I’m much happier now”.

– Humans of Kuala Lumpur

Photostory by Mushamir Mustafa

“Batches after batches, more and more people left the company. I was in one of the later batches to get the letter and was told to pack up and leave on the very same day.”

“Batches after batches, more and more people left the company. I was in one of the later batches to get the letter and was told to pack up and leave on the very same day.

I was an engineer in the oil and gas sector. In late 2014, a nightmare hit the oil and gas industry, following the prolonged slump in crude oil prices.

One day when I went to the IT department, to my surprise, it was almost empty. I asked one of them what happened, and he replied ‘retrenchment’.

From that day onwards, I was fully aware that something was going on in the company.
There were little projects to be tendered and there wasn’t any work to do during that period. Time passed. The downsizing had finally started with the entire contract workers, and with most of them gone, the organization had no choice but to finally lay their hands on the permanent staff.

I spent one year looking for jobs in different industries but had a tough time securing one because the experiences that I had were from a completely different sector. I managed to find a job in the M&E (Mechanical & Electrical) sector but I did not like what I was doing.

The most important thing is that I believe in the market and marketplace will determine the values that you provide, and therefore that will dictate how much is your earning power. And the best part is that your income is limited by any company – you can earn more as long as you can provide more. This was the one and only thing that I believed in before making my move to tender my resignation one year later to pursue my own dream.

I have a mentor that I adore and respect. He teaches me the A-Zs of the true purpose of life. He mentioned that life is like a game – from the day you were born, like it or not, are already in the game of life. Like all games, this game of life has specific rules to play by. If you play it correctly, it is competitive and fun. While many people sit at the sidelines and marvel at how others are playing, we can win this game by being a player ourselves.

From this, I decided to take charge of my own life.

I am now working as an equity and currency trader. Ever since then I follow my own path, the dedication, perseverance and passion have automatically imprinted into my daily life. Being able to work tirelessly day and night, and pushing myself to the limit, it is more than a job, something that I will definitely hold on to in the future.

I wholeheartedly believe that when one door closes, another opens; that every new beginning comes from another beginning’s end.

Imagine, there are 2 people, Jeff and Brandon. Jeff places a very high value on freedom and fun and Brandon places a very high value on security and comfort. Do you think that they behave very differently and make very different choices? Of course, they would – in careers, cars, vacations – all would be totally different.

The ways you prioritize your values affect how your mind makes decisions and the way you behave.

In my case, I have gone through the retrenchment period and because of this, the values of security and comfort that I believed in the past are no longer in my dictionary.

This is a quote I love – ‘It ain’t about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward’. That is how a winner is created.”

– Humans of Kuala Lumpur

Photostory by Ariya Ling
Edited by Mushamir Mustafa

‘My life really started during high school, when I got emotionally bullied.’

‘My life really started during high school, when I got emotionally bullied. It changed my life because I realize I have this patience and confidence in me – and that I can be strong, and can really fight for what I really want.

‘So how did you deal with your bullying situation?’

‘I didn’t take it too personal, I laughed at it. I talked with my family, and my godfather, who influenced my life the most. I was close to my godfather, who passed away already, and told me to never give up and don’t give in. Love ourselves more. And be patient. Never be in the mindset of a victim, because you need get to the level where you are you. Never let others influence your mind. You are better, you are the best, you are really good than you can ever imagine’.

“I describe myself as an introvert, and I think people should be by their own selves sometimes and not around people all the time.”

“I describe myself as an introvert, and I think people should be by their own selves sometimes and not around people all the time. I’m comfortable being alone and I enjoy it because I’m doing something that I love, like reading, and people should do the things they love on their own time too. Their own me time. You can do a lot of things on your own time, like learning new things, calming down and think to oneself without having others interrupting your thoughts, and reflect and enjoy one’s hobbies. But yes, there should be a time for being with friends, and a time to be on your own – a balance. Also when you’re around people you tend to rely on them all the time, so when you’re alone, it forces you to rely on yourself.”

One time I was snowboarding and I fell a few times in the snow. And when I was about to leave the chalet, I realised “where was my watch?.”

I have a story about this watch.

One time I was snowboarding and I fell a few times in the snow. And when I was about to leave the chalet, I realised “where was my watch?.” I had lost it and I freaked out. I was like oh my God, so I went up the hill again and couldn’t find it, went back down and asked the concierge, and they haven’t seen it either. So I was like, “you know what, I’ll just go to the police station and report that it has been lost.” At the police station I say, “M’aam, I want to report my missing watch, I’ve lost it.” She’s like “what color is it?” I said “silver, black face.” And she’s like, “oh, what’s the brand name?.” I said, “Breitling.” She said, “oh, okay, is this your watch?”

I was like oh my God, I can’t believe somebody found it and returned it. I was so happy. And if you picked this up, you’d know it was expensive – its heavy, its got weight, and it goes for USD 10,000 a watch. So I was very happy about that. Apparently, an employee from the chalet found it in the eating area, in the cafeteria. So I guess maybe when I feel down it must have loosened the buckle, then when I was taking off my jacket and gloves it must have fallen off.

I asked if I could meet the employee, but they don’t remember who the person was. I’m extremely thankful for the person, and I would have given him a reward – at least buy him lunch! It’s nice to know there are still these kind of people in this world.

“I’m from Sarawak, and my family are all of different religions, due to intermarriage of the different races.”

“I’m from Sarawak, and my family are all of different religions, due to intermarriage of the different races. During Christmas, we would go and pay a visit to their homes and vice versa – where they would visit our homes and celebrate. Christians and Muslims in Sarawak both celebrate each other’s festive season. There’s no problem. Mixed marriages is quite normal so we don’t see why we can’t celebrate one another’s important festival.”