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Salon population decreases in Taninthayi Region

A fishing boat on the Salon Island in Taninthayi Region.  Photo: Myint Oo (Myeit)
A fishing boat on the Salon Island in Taninthayi Region.  Photo: Myint Oo (Myeit)

A population of Salon people has now been dwindling comparatively with the last 40 years according to the activists for Salon people. The 1976 Census indicated that about 6,000 Salon people were residing in Myeik and Kawthoung districts in Taninthayi Region. However, only over 1,700 remained to stay there now.
They are mostly seen in 10 islands of Myeik and Kawthoung districts. They have health dispensaries and health staff only in four villages of Bokpyin, Zardatgyi island, Kawthoung, and Kyunsu townships, out of 10. Even more dispensaries and health staff are being requested for the remaining areas but Salon people are facing very difficult situation when they have emergency cases. Both land and sea routes are hard to carry patients to where they can receive medical treatment. Some died on the way, said the activists.
Salon people used to find fish, clams, squids, sea cucumbers, oysters, and shells both from underwater and among reefs, which is their major livelihoods.
With their economic interests, some business persons and companies are penetrating into their areas. So hundreds of Salon people are compelled to move to two islands of Thailand.
There are drug abuse problems among the Salon people. In the absence of health clinics and midwifery, pregnant women and patients have to cross the sea with huge waves to reach Myeit district general hospital where they can receive proper medical treatment. Some died in action.
That is why their death rate also increases whereas their birth rate decreases due to lack of knowledge, proper health care and easy access to towns and districts. “Thus, worries are mounting among us as the Salon people are now on the verge of extinction,” said the activists for the Salon People. —Myint Oo (Myeit) (Translated by Aungthu Ya)

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