JOHOR BARU: The High Court here has rejected the Johor government’s appeal to strike out a civil suit filed against them over a land compensation issue in Stulang Laut involving a group of Orang Seletar some 26 years ago.
High Court Judge Datuk See Mee Chun set aside the government’s appeal, saying that their reasons were not valid, before setting Feb 25 next year for a hearing.
She allowed about 51 Orang Seletar to file a lawsuit against Johor Land and Mines Department, the district land administrator, Johor Baru City Council (MBJB) and the Orang Asli Development Department (Jakoa).
The group's legal representatives lawyers Tan Poh Lai and Gregory Das argued that the compensation set by the government was a small sum, and did not take into consideration of the current market value of the land, which is located in Stulang Laut.
“The government at the time offered about RM250,000, where each of the 51 Orang Seletar will get about RM5,000, despite the land price valued at RM24mil in 2003.
“Now, the land price is about more than half-a-billion ringgit," Tan said when met at the Johor Baru Civil High Court at Menara Cyberport here on Wednesday (Dec 4).
Tan said that the Orang Seletar only wanted fair compensation from the state government.
“We will finally have our day in court, as we have been waiting for nine years as the lawsuit had been prolonged due to various technical issues,” she said.
It was previously reported that 51 Orang Seletar 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 Seletar 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 where some two years later, the Orang Seletar took the government to court following a series of events, including the demolition of a church they had built in Kuala Masai.
In the 2010 judgment, High Court judge Justice Zakiah Kassim ruled that the land in Stulang Laut, which had been developed into a shopping and commercial centre known as The Zon, belonged to the community.
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