Hutan Yek (My Forest) Chorus of the Forest by Lavinya Kalai Chevan

A music video to instill a sense of awareness & appreciation of the forests to fellow Malaysians

By ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity

Story and media by Lavinya Kalai Chevan

Hutan Yek (2022) by ASEAN Centre for BiodiversityASEAN Centre for Biodiversity

HUTAN YEK (subtitles and basic explanation)
Darkness encompasses the sky
The breeze roars out the lamentations of nature
The stars eclipse the shadows
The tales of the water are ever-changing
Circling, winding, the story never ends
Whispering the secrets of old that have been forgotten
The hornbill has sounded its call

Let me pass, Sarok (requesting rite of passage from a good forest spirit, Sarok Bede-et)
I love this big forest
I love my home
*Don’t mock, don’t kill
 Blood is burnt
 Gubal forgives 
Light peeps through the gaps
Pushing the tualang towards the clouds
Its age evident in its wrinkles
Follow the footsteps of the deer and discover a new world
Don’t mock, don’t kill
Blood is burnt
Gubal forgives

Refers to a Bateq belief that if one makes fun of animals in the forest or kills them for no good reason, a ritual must be done which includes the wrongdoer drawing some blood to be put into the fire for the Gubal to forgive him/her.


"I am a whimsical creature inhabiting the earth but for a brief moment; trying to observe, preserve, create and impact as I go..."

- Lavinya, Malaysia

Lavinya Profile (2022) by ASEAN Centre for BiodiversityASEAN Centre for Biodiversity


Hutan Yek or My Forest came to fruition through a marriage of observances of nature, multiple conversations with friends from the Bateq community, and a vision to bring this melody to life.

The verses describe the experience of traversing the forest, looking at every element in awe and wonder. It attempts to help listeners view the forest in a different light – one where it is a sacred place filled with life, magic, mystery, culture, and stories of old. If one listens closely, one will hear some of the many sounds of Taman Negara, Pahang – from gibbon calls and bird chirps to splashes of water and Bateq speech.

The music takes on a more ambient route in the verses, allowing the natural sounds and vocals more prominence. This shifts with the addition of the percussion sounds in the chorus as the song gains momentum into an instrumental towards the end. Traditional elements such as the flute, gamelan, and drums are present; with an old Bateq tune on flute incorporated as the intro.

The song is sung predominantly in Bahasa Melayu with a few words in Bateq, including the first half of the chorus. Other words include gelaketok, wayatan, hengang, and kasak.

The first line of the chorus, ‘Haat nan, Sarok’ or ‘Let me pass, Sarok’ is a request for right of passage from a Sarok Bedeet (pronounced Bəde-et), a good forest spirit. It is followed by two lines that depict the jungle as a beloved home to the Bateq people.

The second half of the chorus warns us not to mock or kill any being. This stems from a Bateq belief that if one makes fun of the plants and animals in the forest or kills them for no good reason, a ritual must be done which includes the wrongdoer drawing some blood to be put into the fire for the Gubal (spirit of the skies) to forgive him/her.

As a whole, Hutan Yek is a bid to the peoples of the world to love and appreciate our forests’ beautiful landscapes and the life they sustain. It beckons all to never stop one’s inner child from marveling at the glorious beauty of nature, and it cautions us to never destroy the wondrous ecosystems in place as there will be unrivaled loss and repercussions to all of us.

Lavinya on site (2022) by Lavinya Kalai ChevanASEAN Centre for Biodiversity

More from the Young ASEAN Storytellers
The Bateq People & Their Ancient FolkloresSa Yakap ng Kitanglad: Buhay-Ilang (Wildlife)

More about Taman Negara National Park

Young ASEAN Storytellers, From the collection of: ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity
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Disclaimer:  The views and opinions expressed by the Young ASEAN Storytellers should not be taken, in any way, to reflect the official position or opinion of the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity, its partners, the ASEAN Member States, and the ASEAN Secretariat.

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