Lawyers Sachpreetraj Singh Sohanpal (left) and Rajesh Nagarajan (second left) and representatives of Pertubuhan Perlindung Khazanah Alam Malaysian (Peka) and Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) speak to the press, at the Kuala Lumpur court complex, today. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Hasnoor Hussain, March 11, 2021. THE Orang Asli of Kampung Kelaik and Kampung Cabil of Pos Blau in Gua Musang, Kelantan have filed a suit against the state government to stop all encroachment that have been taking place on their ancestral land since 2015. Messrs Raj and Such filed the case in the Kota Baru High Court yesterday on behalf of 13 Orang Asli from the villages. Lawyer Sachpreetraj Sigh Sohanpal said today the land belonging to the Orang Asli has been encroached upon for mining, logging and planting durians and oil palms. “They’ve encroached on the land slowly to the point that a large portion of it has been taken up by these parties. “They’ve all been granted licences by the director of land and mines of the state of Kelantan and by the state government,” he said. The area in dispute is around 70-100 acres, which was mapped out by the villagers. Around 200 families are currently living in the two villages. The directors of the Land and Mines Department, Forestry Department, Orang Asli Development Department (Jakoa), the Kelantan government and all encroaching parties have been named in the suit filed. In the suit, the Orang Asli are seeking a declaration over their native customary rights and that they are the owners of the ancestral lands surrounding Kampung Kelaik and Cabil. They are also seeking a declaration that the issuance of licence or the granting of permission to the encroaching parties was contrary to the law, illegal and void. They also want the court to declare that the state government, the forestry department, the land and mines director have breached their fiduciary duties as well as their responsibilities and duty under the Federal Constitution. In the interim, they have sought an injunction to stop the encroachments pending the disposal of the suit. “We are seeking a declaration that the present land that has been mapped by the Orang Asli be declared as their ancestral land,” Sohanpal said. “Their rights as native customary holders of the land must be recognised in a court of law. Our claim is that they’re ownership of the land takes precedence over any other rights that other parties may have.” He added that Orang Asli’s right to the land was protected under Article 8 of the federal constitution.Livelihoods and graves destroyed Suaram coordinator B. Sureshkumar meanwhile said the organisation has been assisting the Orang Asli since 2010. “We found that there has been a lot of encroachment since the Gua Musang-Cameron Highlands road was completed in 2002. “And since 2015, we have been helping them highlight their problems to the menteri besar, the land office and Jakoa. But no actions have been taken,” he said. Rajesh Nagarajan, who is also representing the Orang Asli, said the livelihoods of those living in the two villages have been disrupted due to the encroachment. “Imagine a large plot of land, and in the middle is their village. The surrounding land has been a source of income for the Orang Asli as that is where they hunt, forage and fish. “But now, everything surrounding them has been cleared for other activities. They are supposed to be self-sufficient but they are no longer able to do so as the forest has been cleared. Now they need to depend on other people’s generosity,” Nagarajan said. He said the situation in the area has become so dire that the villages can’t even find bamboo to make repairs to their home. Pollutants released by the mines have also polluted the river and cut off access to clean water. The lawyers said they hope the court will grant them an injunction to immediately seize all encroachment until the resolution of the suit against the state government. “They have lived on this land for generations. They have their ancestral graves here and no regard has been given to them “The encroaching parties have completely demolished them without any concern or consultation with the Orang Asli”. – March 11, 2021.
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