|Court strikes out appeal by Johor department in land case|
|Thursday, 09 August 2012 10:31am|
©The Star (Used by permission)
by MAIZATUL NAZLINA
PUTRAJAYA: The orang asli community in Johor Baru, evicted from their land 19 years ago, celebrated for the second time when the Court of Appeal struck out an appeal by the Johor Land and Mines Department.
Yesterday, about 50 orang asli and their family members were all smiles when the court’s decision was conveyed to them by their lead counsel Steven Thiru.
Justices Abu Samah Nordin, Clement Allan Skinner and Aziah Ali unanimously made the order after Johor Legal Adviser Datuk Abdul Rahman Putra informed the court they had withdrawn the appeal against the orang asli selat community.
Justice Abu Samah struck out the case with costs of RM5,000 to be paid to respondents Khalip Bachik, Kelah Lah and 49 other orang asli.
Speaking to reporters later, Thiru said the applicant withdrew the appeal, which meant the Johor Baru High Court decision stands.
“Now, we must go back to the High Court to assess compensation for the land in Kampung Stulang Laut and damages for trespassing and demolition of their chapel,” said Thiru, who was assisted by Aaron Matthew, S. Yogeswaran and Lee Lyn-Ni.
On Sept 23, 2010, High Court judge Justice Zakiah Kassim ruled that the land where the orang asli community used to reside in Stulang Laut, which had since been developed and known as “The Zon” belonged to the community.
Zakiah said since the orang asli had been removed from the land, the state government should compensate them for it according to the market value.
The issue started in 1993 when the state government directed the settlement to relocate from Stulang Laut, where they had been staying for hundreds of years, to Kuala Masai.
The relocation took place in 2003 but it was two years later that the orang asli took the government to court in 2005 following a series of events, including the demolition of a church they had built at Kuala Masai.
The suit had named the director of the state Land and Mines Department, the Johor Baru City Council and the Department of Orang Asli Affairs.
The court had also ruled that the act of demolishing the church at their new settlement was unlawful and ordered the orang asli to be compensated accordingly.
Kelah, 32, said they have yet to rebuild the chapel.
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