PUTRAJAYA (Bernama) – The Court of Appeal yesterday remitted back to the High Court in Kuantan for a rehearing a civil suit brought by 82 Orang Asli over their right to their ancestral land spanning some 7,000 acres between Maran and Kuantan.
A three-member panel chaired by Justice Datuk Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahim unanimously allowed their appeal to set aside a Kuantan High Court dismissal of the originating summons brought by the Orang Asli families from the Semaq Beri community.
Justice Abdul Aziz, who presided on the panel with Justices Datuk Mah Weng Kwai and Dr Prasad Sandosham Abraham, ordered the case to be reheard before a new judge on the issue of proving their customary right to the land.
The oral judgment was delivered by Justice Abraham who said that the court was of the opinion that two previous Court of Appeal decisions were correct in stating that the Orang Asli in the peninsula had the right under common law to their ancestral land.
The two Court of Appeal decisions involved the Adong Kuwau and the Sagong Tasi cases. Adong Kuwau had brought an action against the Johor government over his ancestral land while Sagong Tasi and 26 other families from the Temuan community had filed a civil suit over their ancestral land in Kampung Tampoi, Selangor.
Yebet and 81 others from Kampung Mengkapur, off Km59 Kuantan-Maran Road, Pahang, had filed their suit in 2012 against sub-contractor Foong Kwai Long, LKPP Corporation Sdn Bhd, the Pahang government, the director-general of the Orang Asli Development Department, the director of the Land and Mines Department, Pahang, and the Malaysian government.
They sought, among others, injunctive and declaratory orders relating to their customary land and alternatively for adequate compensation for the use and/or alienation of their customary land as well as damages for breach of constitutional, statutory and/or fiduciary duties owed to them.
They claimed that they had occupied the customary land since time immemorial but were then temporarily relocated by the government during the Emergency (1948 to 1960) for security reasons.
They said that they had returned to their customary land to tend their orchards, forage for jungle products and visit sacred sites during that period and, in 1970, some of them had returned permanently to Kampung Mengkapur.