JOHOR BARU: The High Court has granted leave to proceed with a hearing to determine the value of a land acquired 26 years ago from an orang asli community.
Justice See Mee Chun made the ruling in chambers after the orang asli group, through their lawyer Tan Poh Lai, filed a mandamus application to get the Johor Baru land collector to act in accordance with the Land Acquisition Act.
The department is also supposed to pay them the appropriate compensation for the land acquisition.
No date has been fixed for the hearing.
The government was represented by federal counsel Noor Farhana Adham.
Lawyer Gregory Das from the Malaysian Bar Council was also present.
It was previously reported that 51 orang asli from the Seletar group had won two legal cases against the state government after being evicted from their land in 1993.
However, the court order to compensate them has 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 plight of the orang Seletar began in 1993 when the state government directed them to relocate from Stulang Laut, where they had been staying for hundreds of years, to Kuala Masai.
The relocation took place in 2003.
Subsequently, the orang asli took legal action following a series of events, including the demolition of their church in Kuala Masai.
In the judgment in 2010, High Court judge Justice Zakiah Kassim ruled that the orang asli’s land in Stulang Laut, which had since been developed and known as “The Zon”, indeed belonged to the community.
Justice Zakiah also ruled that the state government should compensate them according to the market value.
The court said the demolition of the church was unlawful and ordered the orang asli to be compensated accordingly.
However, only a meagre sum has been paid for the demolition of the chapel.
Yesterday, Pasir Gudang MP Hassan Abdul Karim, who came to the civil court together with the 51 orang asli families, said that Mentri Besar Datuk Dr Sahruddin Jamal, who oversees land matters, should resolve this longstanding issue.
“The courts have already ruled in the orang asli’s favour. There is already an order and I hope the state government will be able to settle this matter soon,” he said, adding that he hoped to set an appointment with the Mentri Besar to highlight this matter.
One of the plaintiffs, Khalip Bachik, 58, who is suffering from stage four colon cancer, hoped that he would be compensated soon.
“I have already gone through four operations. I do not have much time. I hope to get this compensation for our four children and their grandchildren,” he added.
Khalip, who was diagnosed with the illness four years ago, said that he had to wear a urine bag all the time and it was difficult for him to walk and travel long distances.
“However, I will do my best to attend all the court cases and hearings until we get compensated,” he added.