Date of Award

Spring 5-20-2024

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)


Johanna S. Quinn, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Kate Wilson, Ph.D.


The rise of a pan-indigenous network has been empowered by digital media in the 21st century. Universal concepts such as “landback” have traveled beyond the boundaries of language and borders. For indigenous peoples in Malaysia, the Orang Asal, online resistance is a reclamation of space long suppressed historically and physically. With actions like spreading local news on land rights court cases and development projects, indigenous reclamation from within the Orang Asal as well as indigenous allyship from citizens and diasporic Malaysians alike is possible. #KembalikanTanahAdat in Malay, #ReturnCustomaryLand is one of the many hashtags for a move towards increasing awareness on the stripping of Orang Asal land rights. A connection to land rights and legal battle, customary law directly addresses Indigenous land rights in most British postcolonial Southeast Asian nations. Through an analysis of tweets under the hashtag of #KembalikanTanahAdat, this study noted factors such as language, rhetoric, interactive features such as quote tweets or retweets, the purpose of the tweet, user accounts, and more. The most impactful use of hashtags exists on Twitter; On Malaysian Twitter specifically, the use of Malay hashtags allows for discourse to still be grounded within Malaysia but the adapted use English within the body of the tweets act as an invitation to international onlookers. With collectives such as @MSolidariti and @OrangAsal as results of activists coming together, the increased activity on Twitter shows promise for momentum in land rights for the Orang Asal. This paper seeks to explore the intricacies and contributions of Malaysian discourse on Twitter toward a growing collective movement of securing indigenous land rights, as a local movement aligns with a universally experienced fight.