Company To Clear Disputed Land After Winning Suit Against Orang Asli In Pahang
An agriculture company that recently won a land dispute against a group of Orang Asli in Bera, Pahang is planning to enter the area to clear the land for oil palm cultivation next week.
The company, however, is expecting that villagers from Kampung Orang Asli Lubuk Perah will block them from entering the area based on its previous encounter with the villagers.
At a press conference held in Kuala Lumpur today, Nor Hisham Muhammad, a lawyer representing the firm, said the villagers had made various attempts, including setting up blockades and demolishing a bridge, to stop his client from entering the area.
"We could not enter the place previously because they put up a blockade and came with machetes and all sorts of weapons. We didn't want to cause any commotion and unrest, so we went through legal channels and we secured a court order," said Nor Hisham.
For security reasons, he said his client is making an arrangement to enter the place together with the police, land office staff, and court officials.
"We expect to go into the area in a week's time, but the exact date and time has yet to be determined," said Nor Hisham, who is from the Ram Reza & Muhammad law firm.
In a statement issued today, Ram Reza & Muhammad accused the Orang Asli group of intruding on the disputed land owned by Sri Jengka Sdn Bhd and for blocking the rightful parties from entering the land.
"Several police reports had been lodged since 2015," said the law firm.
There was also illegal cultivation of oil palm and rubber on the disputed land, added the firm.
Sri Jengka, a company of which 39 percent is owned by the Pahang state government, was given a 99-year leasehold land by the state government in 2013. Sri Jengka has via direct negotiation given permission for oil palm cultivation to Elite Agriculture.
Lawyer Nor Hisham Muhammad (right)
Last year, Elite Agriculture filed an application in the Temerloh High Court to enter and take possession of the land. On Feb 16, the court ruled in favour of the company.
The defendants - village head Hajemi Din and other villagers - will appeal the court decision.
Hajemi and the villagers claimed the Orang Asli community has resided on the land in Kampung Lubuk Perah and the surrounding areas for six generations, or over 100 years.
He claimed that the Semelai people living in the area are recognised by the Orang Asli Development Department (Jakoa) and that his appointment as the village head is stated in a letter.
At today's press conference, Sri Jengka Sdn Bhd chairperson Rosni Zahari dismissed the accusation that her company intruded or took illegal possession of ancestral or customary land at Kampung Orang Asli Lubuk Perah.
Sri Jengka Sdn Bhd chairperson Rosni Zahari
This is because the land office, she said, conducted a check on the land upon receiving an application from Sri Jengka and found the land was not customary or roaming land of the Semelai tribe.
"In fact, the nearest Orang Asli house is at least 1km away from our land. This is not Orang Asli land nor roaming land," she said.
She said her company would not have secured the leasehold title if the land is customary or roaming land of the Orang Asli. - Mkini
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