Seven individuals, companies fail to get leave to appeal decision to return missing funds from RM38.5m awarded to Orang Asli villagers

Seven individuals and companies failed to obtain leave from the Federal Court today to appeal against the High Court decision for them to return missing funds from RM38.5 million compensation awarded to a group of Orang Asli villagers. — Reuters pic
Seven individuals and companies failed to obtain leave from the Federal Court today to appeal against the High Court decision for them to return missing funds from RM38.5 million compensation awarded to a group of Orang Asli villagers. — Reuters pic

PUTRAJAYA, Aug 21 — Seven individuals and companies failed to obtain leave from the Federal Court today to appeal against the High Court decision for them to return missing funds from RM38.5 million compensation awarded to a group of Orang Asli villagers.

The villagers were awarded the compensation by the High Court in 2000 after their land had been acquired for the construction of the Linggiu Valley Dam in Johor.

Lawyer G. Ragumaren, counsel for the Orang Asli, who also appeared as co-counsel for the Linggiu Valley Orang Asli (Jakuns) Trust said today’s Federal Court decision is a sweet victory for the Orang Asli after 11 years of legal battle to recover the monies.

Lawyers Datuk Lim Chee Wee and K. Ragunath were the lead counsel for the Linggiu Valley Orang Asli (Jakuns) Trust.

Chief Justice Tun Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat who led a three-member bench dismissed the seven applicants’ applications to obtain leave to appeal against the decisions of the High Court and Court of Appeal which ruled against them.

The seven applicants are Virgin Properties Sdn Bhd, Virgin Properties’ director Ku Azhar Ku Abdul Razak, Dinesh Kanavaji, Messrs Khana & Co, Riza Makhzan Arifin and Puteri Intan Nurul Arzian Abdul Aziz and Malayan Banking Berhad.

Justice Tengku Maimun, in her decision, said none of the legal questions posed by the applicants meet the threshold requirement of section 96 of the Courts of Judicature Act 1964 for leave to be granted.

She said that the questions posed were based on the facts of the case, adding that the High Court’s decision was well-reasoned, which was upheld by the Court of Appeal last year.

The bench, also comprising Federal Court judges Datuk Mary Lim Thiam Suan and Datuk Harmindar Singh Dhaliwal awarded the Linggui Valley Orang Asli (Jakuns) Trust RM350,000 in costs.

On June 5, 2000, the Johor Bahru High Court had ordered the Johor state government to pay RM38,554,111.92 compensation to the Orang Asli in three villages in Kota Tinggi, Johor after their land had been acquired for the construction of the Linggiu Valley Dam to supply water to Singapore.

Of the sum, RM22 million was to be held under the Linggiu Valley Orang Asli (Jakuns) Trust, and the remaining RM16,554,111.92 was to be handed to law firm Tetuan Khana & Co, to be paid to the Orang Asli after deduction of legal fees and costs.

In 2009, the Orang Asli trust fund filed a suit over the use of RM7 million by Dinesh’s father S. Kanawagi to buy 27 condominium units at Lanai Gurney Heights Condominium in Kuala Lumpur in 2008.

Rental from the 27 units were then said to have been used to buy another 30 units at the same condominium under Dinesh’s name.

In 2016, the High Court ruled that the Linggiu Valley Orang Asli (Jakuns) Trust should be compensated about RM10 million and take over possession and ownership of the 57 condominiums.

The Court of Appeal last year dismissed the appeals by the applicants and upheld the decision of the High Court.

Ragumaren told reporters that they would now take steps to recover the judgment sum amounting to RM32 million and also to get the apartments transferred to the trust.

Lawyer Datuk Wong Rhen Yen represented Dinesh while lawyer V.S Viswanathan for Virgin Properties. Lawyer T. A. Sivam appeared for Tetuan Khana & Co, while lawyer Lim Kian Leong for Riza Mahzan and lawyer Dinesh Ahinayaranan represented Ku Azhar. — Bernama

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