Orang Asli in Ledang file suit over projects on ancestral land

JOHOR BAHRU (Jan 11): A total of 504 orang asli from Kampung Sungai Air Tawas and Tanah Gembur in Ledang filed a suit against the Johor government and three others yesterday to challenge projects taking place in an area they claimed to be their ancestral land.

The plaintiffs, represented by the Ledang Orang Asli Action Committee joint-chairmen Jengkeng Jani, 69, and Mengkek Achai, 56, filed the suit at the Civil High Court registry here through their lawyer Nur Hannan Ishak. Besides the Johor government, the three other defendants named in the suit are project contractor Zila Maju Enterprise, Johor National Park Corp director and the Malaysian government.

In the statement of claim, the Orang Asli stated they were never informed by any of the defendants about the projects involving the construction of a perimeter fencing and digging works in the area. They claimed that they only knew about the projects after the contractor brought in heavy machinery into the village on Nov 14 last year and the notice to start work was issued on Nov 30.

The Orang Asli claimed that the contractor’s action had violated their rights to the ancestral land. They also claimed that the projects’ implementation had deprived them of their source of income, as their crops like rubber and banana had been destroyed and no compensation was paid to them. They are seeking a declaration that they are the ancestral land’s rightful owners and an injunction to stop any contractors from entering or carrying out works in the area.

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on Jan 11, 2017. Subscribe to The Edge Financial Daily here.

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