Orang Asli sue Johor government over projects on ancestral land

Picture shows the highway to Ledang district, Johor. — Google Maps screenshot
Picture shows the highway to Ledang district, Johor. — Google Maps screenshot

JOHOR BARU, Jan 10 — A total of 504 Orang Asli from Kampung Sungai Air Tawas and Tanah Gembur in Ledang today filed a suit against the Johor government and three others to challenge projects being carried out an area which they claimed to be their ancestral land since last November.

The plaintiffs, represented by the Joint-Chairmen of the Ledang Orang Asli Action Committee, 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 Corporation Director and the Malaysian government.

In the statement of claim, the Orang Asli stated that there were never informed about the projects, involving construction of a perimeter fencing and digging works, in the area by any of the defendants.

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 action by the contractor had violated their rights to the ancestral land.

They also claimed that implementation of the projects 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.

As such, they are seeking a declaration that they are the rightful owner of the ancestral land and an injunction to stop any contractors from entering or to carry out works in the area. — Bernama

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