JOHOR BARU: The High Court has directed the Johor Land and Mines director to negotiate with a group of Orang Asli with regard to compensation for a piece of land acquired from them 26 years ago.
Justice See Mee Chun made the ruling following a case management with regard to a mandamus application filed by the Orang Asli via their lawyer to get the Johor Baru Land and Mines Department to act in accordance with the Land Acquisition Act 1960.
A mandamus order is a judicial order compelling a lower court or person to perform a public or statutory duty.
Justice See hoped that the negotiations would be held before the next case management on Aug 5.
Lawyer Tan Poh Lai, who filed the mandamus application earlier this month, said not adhering to the application was a serious offence which could lead to imprisonment.
“We just want to have a hearing to negotiate. They offered us only RM5,000 for each family in the past which we do not accept,” she added.
The government was represented by federal counsel Suhana Sabian. Lawyer Gregory Das represented the Bar Council.
It was previously reported that 51 Orang Asli from the Seletar group had so far won two legal cases against the state government after being evicted from their land in 1993.
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 in the Court of Appeal in 2012.
The plight of the Orang Asli group 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 in Stulang Laut, which had been developed into a shopping centre known as The Zon, belonged to the community.