Court Rules Against Semelai Orang Asli Over Land Dispute
A group of Orang Asli villagers claiming customary rights over a plot of land in Bera, Pahang which they have been living on for over a century, was ordered to make way for a company tasked with clearing the land for oil palm cultivation.
This came after the High Court in Temerloh today allowed the application by Elite Agriculture Sdn Bhd, which claimed to have a 99-year lease on the 655ha land, to repossess it.
The respondents are Kampung Orang Asli Lubuk Perah head Hajemi Din and the villagers.
"The plaintiff's application is allowed together with RM10,000 in cost," according to judge Hassan Abdul Ghani in a written ruling sighted by Malaysiakini.
The judge, however, did not state the grounds of the ruling.
When contacted, lawyer Ahmad Nizam Hamid who acted for Hajemi and the villagers said Elite Agriculture made the application in court in order to evict the Semelai tribe from the land.
"We have lost this case," he added.
Nizam said he will file for a stay of execution of the court ruling pending the disposal of another suit initiated by his clients against the Pahang government, Elite Agriculture and landowner Sri Jengka Sdn Bhd.
In the other suit, Hajemi and the villagers are also suing for their customary rights.
"The suit was filed by the villagers last week and the court has yet to fix a hearing date," said Nizam.
In today's suit which was filed in October 2020, the plaintiff claimed that the company's representatives were "blocked, chased and threatened" by the respondents when they attempted to enter the area to clear the land.
Elite Agriculture also submitted the grant for the lease to substantiate its claim, stating that it received the rights from Sri Jengka Sdn Bhd.
In their affidavit in reply, Hajemi and the villagers claimed that the Orang Asli community has resided on the land in Kampung Lubuk Perah and the surrounding areas for six generations, which is more than 100 years.
Hajemi 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.
The plaintiff, however, contended that a conversation cited by Hajemi was hearsay.
Elite Agriculture was represented by law firm Ram Reza & Muhamad, while Hajemi and the villagers were also represented by lawyer Mohd Falihin Kamil Mohamed Sazali. - Mkini
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