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Thursday May 27, 2010

Selangor to gazette 25 orang asli villages following landmark decision

PETALING JAYA: The Selangor Government plans to gazette some 25 orang asli villages by August following the recording of a landmark settlement in the Federal Court for RM6.5mil to be paid to seven Temuan plaintiffs for ac-quisition of their native customary land.

Its Orang Asli Land Task Force chairman Elizabeth Wong said the settlement yesterday was a landmark one as it recognised the orang asli’s right to customary lands.

She welcomed the withdrawal of the appeal by the Federal Government, the Malaysian Highway Authority and United Engineers Malaysia Bhd in re Sagong Tasi.

The 14-year-old battle began in 1996, a year after the Government took 15.57ha of Temuan land in Kampung Bukit Tampoi, Dengkil, to build the Nilai-KLIA Highway.

The then Barisan Nasional state government was a party to the suit up until April 2009 when the new Pakatan Rakyat-led government withdrew from the appeal to the Federal Court, said Wong.

She urged the Federal Government to affirm the spirit of the settlement and have more consultations before amending the Aboriginal Peoples Act to limit compensation and size of land ownership.

Centre for Orang Asli Concerns co-ordinator Dr Colin Nicholas said the amount was below market value but it was better than nothing as four plaintiffs had died and the others were old and tired.

DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang expressed hope the settlement would be a benchmark for disputes between the orang asli and Federal and state governments/agencies.

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