JOHOR BARU: An orang asli group, which won two legal cases against the state government after being evicted from their land 26 years ago, has filed a suit seeking full compliance of a court order to compensate them.
This came about as the order to compensate them had yet to be fully enforced although the Johor Land and Mines Department lost the case in the High Court in 2010 and again at the Court of Appeal in 2012.
The community, comprising 49 Orang Seletar families, has now filed a suit in the High Court for a mandamus order to get the department to act in accordance with the Land Acquisition Act and pay them the appropriate compensation for the land acquisition.
The land in Stulang, which has been developed for commercial and public housing, is worth tens of millions of ringgit now.
“Just because we are mostly fishermen, they are not bothered about our plight. They only offered us a mere compensation of RM5,000 for each family,” said village headman Kelah Lah, 38.
Their plight began in 1993 when the state government directed the settlement to relocate from Stulang Laut, where they had been staying for hundreds of years, to Kuala Masai.
The relocation took place in 2003. Two years later, the orang asli took the government to court following a series of events, including the demolition of a church they had built in Kuala Masai.
In the judgment in 2010, High Court judge Justice Zakiah Kassim ruled that the land where the orang asli community used to reside in Stulang Laut, which had since been developed and known as “The Zon”, belonged to the community.
Zakiah said that since the orang asli had been removed from the land, the state government should compensate them according to the market value.
The court also ruled that the act of demolishing the church was unlawful and ordered the orang asli to be compensated accordingly.
To date, only a meagre sum has been paid for the demolition of the chapel.
Kelah is one of two plaintiffs in the case. The other is his uncle Khalip Bachik who is stricken with cancer.
The suit named the director of the state Land and Mines Department, the Johor Baru City Council and the Department of Orang Asli Affairs as defendants.