For the first time since Merdeka, the federal government is instituting legal proceedings on behalf of the Orang Asli
KUALA LUMPUR (18 Jan)- The federal government is suing the Kelantan state government for violating the land rights of the Temiar Orang Asli community in Gua Musang.
“For the first time since Merdeka, the federal government is instituting legal proceedings on behalf of the Orang Asli in recognition of the federal government’s constitutional and legal duty to protect and promote their wellbeing and advancement,” attorney-general Tommy Thomas said in a statement today.
Thomas said the Kelantan state government and its agencies had granted logging rights in Gua Musang to private companies without consulting the Temiar community or offering them compensation.
“Their actions have deprived the Temiar Orang Asli of their native land and resources, and have caused widespread erosion, pollution, and irreparable damage to the ecology and landscape of Pos Simpor (in Gua Musang),” he said.
Thomas noted that although land, forestry and mining matters fell within the state government’s jurisdiction, it was also bound by a “paramount and non-delegable duty” to protect and preserve the welfare of the Temiar Orang Asli.
He added the federal government viewed the encroachments on those lands seriously.
The suit was filed at the High Court in Kota Bharu.
The defendants named in the suit are the Kelantan state government, state director of Lands and Mines, state director of the Forestry Department, and five private entities.
It will seek legal recognition of the Temiars’ native land rights in Pos Simpor, and injunctions to prevent private entities from encroaching on and destroying native land for commercial profit.
Putrajaya will represent the Temiar for free.