Kampung Chubadak Tambahan residents not squatters, Court of Appeal rules

File picture shows a group protesting the demolition of Kg Chubadak Tambahan holding up signs at the entrance to Arus Embun Sdn Bhd in Sentul, October 31, 2014. — Picture by Choo Choy May
File picture shows a group protesting the demolition of Kg Chubadak Tambahan holding up signs at the entrance to Arus Embun Sdn Bhd in Sentul, October 31, 2014. — Picture by Choo Choy May

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KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 13 — The Court of Appeal today declared today the residents of Kampung Chubadak Tambahan are not squatters, saying any attempt to displace them must come with adequate compensation.

The appellate court also reinstated the villagers’ suit in the Kuala Lumpur High Court that was struck out earlier this year.

“The Court of Appeal’s bench unanimously allowed the appeal of the residents to bring back their case for a hearing,” the residents’ lawyer Ahmad Zamri Asa’ad Khuzaimi told Malay Mail Online in a phone call.

“The main issue in this case is that the court recognises that the residents are not squatters. If they are squatters, they will not be eligible for anything,” said Zamri, who is also the chief of the Land and Urban Development Bureau for PAS Youth.

“They are licence holders in equity, and they deserve to reside there as they have been for tens of years.”

The appellate court panel comprised of Datuk Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahim, Datuk Mah Weng Kwai and Dr Prasad Sandosham Abraham.

The case will now be heard in the Kuala Lumpur High Court on November 24.

Previously, the High Court Justice 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.

The villagers had named the Federal Land Commissioner, the Director of Federal Territories’ Lands and Mines Department, Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL), and developer Sentul Murni Sdn Bhd as respondents.

In 1998, the Kuala Lumpur High Court decided that the land in Kg Chubadak Tambahan 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 DBKL listed down Kg Chubadak Tambahan as squatter settlement under the 2020 Kuala Lumpur City Plan, together with five other villages.

Starting June this year, DBKL moved in to demolish homes on the contested piece of land, choosing not to wait for the High Court’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.

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