KUALA LUMPUR, July 1 ― The High Court struck out today the bid by self-professed settlers of Kampung Chubadak Tambahan to challenge local authorities for ownership of the land parcel in Sentul from which they were evicted earlier this year.
Judge Datuk Nik Hasmat Nik Mohamed ruled that the villagers have no right to claim ownership over the land as they are “squatters” on a state-owned land, citing a Federal Court ruling in 1982 that declared the latter as having no right either in law or in equity.
But Nik Hasmat granted lawyers representing the villagers a 14-day stay of execution of the eviction pending appeal.
“It is kind of a victory in defeat,” lead counsel representing the villagers, Fazarudin Sujairi Mad Radzi commented on the matter in a brief interview with The Malay Mail Online outside the court.
The villagers claim they have a right to the land in Kg Chubadak Tambahan as they are among the first settlers there.
A Court of Appeal decision in 2000 had previously refuted claims that they were squatters and trespassers, insisting that they occupied the land as licensees and with the consent of the state authority.
In rejecting the claim today, Nik Hasmat said the appellate court did not clearly specify that the villagers were not squatters on the land.
She also said she was satisfied with the submission by counsel representing the government that the parcel of land there was indeed a federal land and that the Kg Chubadak villagers had trespassed as squatters.
In 1998, the Kuala Lumpur High Court decided that the land in Kg Chubadak belonged to the people who had started the village. The court added that if the area was to be developed the settlers must be compensated with an amount equal to the value of their settlement.
In 2008, however, the Kuala Lumpur City Hall ( DBKL) had listed down Kg Chubadak Tambahan as squatter settlement under the 2020 Kuala Lumpur City Plan, together with five other villages.
Last month, DBKL moved in to demolish homes on the contested piece of land, choosing not to wait for today’s decision before proceeding after already having decided the villagers were squatters.,
DBKL's move to evict the villagers and destroy their homes has drawn flak from both sides of the political divide.
Pro-government Malay rights group Perkasa claimed the eviction reinforced their allegations that the authorities were out to remove any Malay settlement in the city in favour of housing for the more financially viable Chinese community.
Opposition party PAS said the issue reflected Putrajaya's lack of concern about the Malay poor.
But Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Mansor said the eviction was necessary to pave way for low-cost housing development.