Introduction / History
The Melayu Ketapang (Ketapang Malay) live along the western edge of West Kalimantan Province on islands in the Karimata Straits. These islands, which are in Ketapang Regency, include Maya Karimata, Teluk Batang, Sukadana, North Matan Hilir and South Matan Hilir. The Melayu Ketapang are a Muslim group descended from a mix of Malay and Dayak people. Dayak people who are Muslim consider themselves to be Malay. However, they occassionally still practice traditional Dayak customs and use the Dayak language. They also live among Malay people. The majority of Melayu Ketapang people come from Dayak groups while the remainder are from the Riau Malay. In Ketapang town, there is relic of a Melayu Ketapang traditional house that stood in the Mulia Baru village. This large house located on the riverbank is made of wood and is a witness of the Malay culture.
What Are Their Lives Like?
Many of the roads from the coast to the places where the Ketapang live are in poor repair, making it very difficult to reach their area by car or truck. Some parts of the journey are difficult to make even by motorcycle because of large ditches that have formed in poorly maintained roads. Thus the best way to reach the Ketapang area is to travel by boat from the city of Pontianak to the city of Ketapang. Two ports that have routine boat service in the Ketapang area are Teluk Batang and Ketapang City. Car and trucks may only be brought in by ferry to Teluk Batang, which is about 100 km from Ketapang. Motorcycles can complete the trip between Teluk Batang and Ketapang in 4-5 hours; however, cars and trucks can require 36-60 hours to make the trip because of large ditches in the road. Cars must travel in a caravan so that whenever one car gets stuck in a ditch, which can be 1-2 meters deep, it can be towed out by a few of the other vehicles. Most Melayu Ketapang are farmers, although some of them also work as fishermen. Crops are shipped to Pontianak and Semarang (on the island of Java) for sale. The transport route to Semarang is about as fast as transport to Pontianak, so many locals are inclined to send their products directly to Semarang.
What Are Their Beliefs?
The Melayu Ketapang are Muslims, though not extremely devout. Currently there are no reports of even a single Melayu Ketapang person who adheres to a religion besides Islam. It is possible that individuals who are of other faiths are not considered Melayu Ketapang, but Dayak. Thus religion and ethnicity are indistinguishable for the Melayu Ketapang.
What Are Their Needs?
Many potential tourism sites exist in the Ketapang area, including Tanjungpura Cemetary (the ruins of the Tanjungpura Kingdom), Karimata Island, the natural forests of Kendawangan, Palung Mountain National Park and the Muhamad Saunan Palace. It is hoped that raising the rate of tourism to the area will provide economic benefits to the local community. Improvement of transportation facilities whether by land, air, rivers and sea are needed to encourage development in all fields.
Scripture Prayers for the Malay, Ketapang in Indonesia.
Used with permission