Orang Laut People
Singapore does not have known a distinct Indigenous group. However, when the British arrived in Singapore in 1812, it was noted that 150 Orang Laut (Sea People/Sea Nomads) inhabited the land. Orang Laut are an indigenous groups that are known to have lived throughout the Malay and Indonesian Archipelagos.
The Sea People retained their important position in the kingdom after the Malay capital moved from Malacca to Ujung Tanah (the Johor-Singapore-Riau area).
The Sea People’s links to the Malay rulers persisted until 1699, when the last sultan who could claim to be a direct descendant of Sri Tri Buana was assassinated. Following the death of the sultan, the Sea People soon became fragmented and leaderless, and were absorbed by other ethnic groups.
The Orang Laut of Singapore were considered “undesirable citizens” by Singapore government because of what was deemed as their backwards and non progressive lifestyle of living in their native houseboats. Local government policies forced the Orang Laut to either leave Singapore or to give up their way of life for urban flat dwellings.
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Learn more → read the study which covers the Orang Laut people: