Suhakam to probe Johor’s alleged Orang Asli land invasion

Suhakam Commissioner Datuk Lok Yim Pheng (right) receiving a memorandum from the Kampung Sungai Air Tawas and Tanah Gembur residents in Kuala Lumpur January 13, 2017. — Picture by Kamles Kumar
Suhakam Commissioner Datuk Lok Yim Pheng (right) receiving a memorandum from the Kampung Sungai Air Tawas and Tanah Gembur residents in Kuala Lumpur January 13, 2017. — Picture by Kamles Kumar

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 13 — The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) will investigate the claim made by a group of Orang Asli villagers from Ledang, Johor who alleged that their ancestral land had been encroached by the state government.

Suhakam comissioner Datuk Lok Yim Pheng received a memorandum from the Kampung Sungai Air Tawas and Tanah Gembur residents here, who claimed that the invasion into their ancestral land in the Johor National Park violated their human rights and source of income.

She said that the commission would immediately investigate the matter as it impinged the Orang Asli's human rights and cultural practices.

“We have heard their complaints and we will not keep quiet. We will investigate and take necessary action.

“Their human rights should be respected and the laws should be upheld,” Low told reporters during a press conference at the commission's headquarters today.

Suhakam also urged for a roundtable discussion to be held immediately between the Johor National Park's authorities, the developer company and the Orang Asli to resolve the matter amicably.

She added that the Orang Asli Development Department should take a look into the matter as well as it was under the department's jurisdiction.

Jengkeng Jani who was representing Kampung Tanah Gembur claimed that the land marked for the project has been used by his family for generations and is a source of income.

“They say we are invaders but we are not. This has been our land for generations. I'm going there to clear the land to make a living. It's for me to feed my family.

“If I can't, I'll be without an earning and my family would be on the streets. I can't let that happen to my family,” he said during a press conference today.

The group of villagers have also filed a suit against the Johor government and three others to challenge projects being carried out an area earlier this month.

The Orang Asli claimed that they were never informed about the projects, involving construction of a perimeter fencing and digging works, in the area.