Long wait for Orang Asli finally ends


  • Nation
  • Wednesday, 30 Sep 2020

JOHOR BARU: A 10-year-old legal battle by a group of Orang Asli settlers here came to a sweet end when the Johor Land and Mines director and Johor Baru Land and Mines Department agreed to pay a record-high RM5.2mil compensation to them.

According to the Agreement Order recorded in the High Court yesterday before Justice See Mee Chun yesterday, the payment is for full settlement of the case.

The compensation claim was made over a piece of land acquired from them some 27 years ago and is dubbed one of the highest payouts in recent years to the Orang Asli.

The current Kampung Orang

Asli Kuala Masai will also be gazetted as an Orang Asli reserve under Section 7 of the Orang Asli Act 1954.

The order also said that there would be no further arising matter from the applicant, their next of kin or agents from Kampung Orang Asli Stulang Laut or the Kampung Orang Asli Kuala Masai reserves to the respondents and the state government except if there is a breach of terms of the Agreement Order.

Justice See said she was glad that both parties were able to come to an agreement over the matter.

“This case has gone through years of journey and I hope that the compensation will give this case a closure.

“I also hope that the Orang Asli will spend this money wisely, although the numbers may seem big, it should be spent on the things that can give benefit to the community,” she said.

Meanwhile, Kelah Lah, 39, who represented the Orang Asli Kampung Kuala Masai, said he was happy with the outcome of the legal battle that had been going on for years.

“This is the outcome that we have waited for so long and our praise to god that our prayers have been answered today,” he said.

The plight of the 51 Orang Asli from the Seletar tribe 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.

The Johor Land and Mines Department lost their case in the High Court in 2010 and again in the Court of Appeal in 2012.

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.

The Orang Asli had to file a mandamus application on June 3 last year to compel the respondents to honour the compensation in connection with the High Court decision in 2010 which favours the group.

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court , Orang Asli , compensation

   

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