MALAYSIA: Orang Asli go to court to stake their land rights against National Park and palm oil plantation

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Jakun-Orang Asli from Kg Peta and the Mersing area share alight moment while waiting for thier case to be called.

28 March 2012

Orang Asli groups of Mersing and Bera districts are in the court asserting their rights to their traditional and customary lands against forced evictions for Endau Rompin National Park in Mersing and oil palm plantation in Bera.

On 21 March, the Orang Asli of Kampung Peta, Mersing, Johor filed an application for leave to apply for judicial review at Johor Bahru High Court against Mersing District Land Administrator’s order to evict the them from their customary land encompassing the Endau Rompin National Park. 51 Orang Asli from Kampung Peta and the neighbouring villages of Tanah Abang, Punan, and Mentelong travelled all the way from the interior of northeast Johor to the state capital for the court matter.

The court granted an interim stay pending the outcome of application for leave as sought by the Orang Asli applicants and vigorously objected by state attorneys. Had the stay not been granted, the authorities would have been at liberty to enforce the order that could result in 26 Orang Asli dwellings being demolished and/or crops and farms on customary land destroyed and/or the total prohibition of the Orang Asli from accessing to their land, which encompass part of the National Park.

In another land rights case of Semelai-Orang Asli from Kampung Bukit Rok and Kampung Ibam against the state and federal governments as well as the Department of Orang Asli Development (JAKOA), the judicial review began on Monday, 26 March and will be heard over three days at Shah Alam High Court.

The headmen of two Semelai villages in Bera, Pahang and four other villagers, in their representative capacities, are seeking declarations that the state authority failed to administratively gazette 2,023 hectares of their traditional lands that were approved for gazetting in 1974. Instead, the state gave a significant portion of the land to Felcra Berhad to be developed as an oil palm plantation for neighboring (non-Orang Asli) villagers. The area concerned was also the subject of a logging protest by the Semelai in April 2006.

The Orang Asli seek several other declarations from the court including that the non-action and/or action on the part of the respondents constituted a gross breach of their constitutional, statutory and fiduciary duties to safeguard and advance the welfare of the Semelai appellants.

For more information, see
Orang Asli go to court to stake their rights in the Endau-Rompin National Park
Semelai land right case starts 

Source: Center for Orang Asli Concerns

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