MALAYSIA – No injunction can be allowed against the govt, rules court in Orang Asli (Indigenous People) case
Ainin Wan Salleh FREE MALAYSIA TODAY April 21, 2022
The Orang Asli villagers, their lawyers, and representatives from NGOs Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) and Kg Kelaik Orang Asli Action Committee at the Palace of Justice today.
PUTRAJAYA: Ruling that no injunction can be granted against the government and its agents, the Court of Appeal today dismissed an appeal for an interim injunction by Orang Asli villagers from Gua Musang against the Kelantan government and 13 others over encroachment of their ancestral land.
The panel of judges comprising Supang Lian, Suraya Othman and Ghazali Cha refused the application to stop the respondents from carrying on works on the ancestral land of the Orang Asli, citing Section 29(1)(b) of the Government Proceedings Act 1956 and Section 54 of the Specific Relief Act 1954.
The decision threw more than 40 Orang Asli villagers who had travelled on a night bus from Kelantan to Putrajaya into despondency.
“I am disappointed with the court’s decision, but we will appeal to the Federal Court. We will not give up, and hopefully we’ll succeed in the end,” said Ahak Uda, a village elder and one of the appellants.
He said their ancestral lands were in a dire state from polluted rivers to the destruction of wildlife and nature at the hands of private companies and the Kelantan government.
The Orang Asli villagers had been granted an interim injunction by the Kota Bahru High Court against the respondents last March but this was set aside in August. The villagers then filed an appeal in September and the case was heard by the Court of Appeal today.
Sachpreetpal Singh Sohanpal, a lawyer for the villagers, told reporters that the fight must go on, as the Orang Asli stood to lose more than just money compared to the commercial entities.
“The issues to be decided are important not only for the Orang Asli in this case, but for all Orang Asli in Malaysia to safeguard their customs and livelihoods,” said Sachpreetpal.
He said the decision on the main suit would be delivered by the Kota Bahru High Court on June 26.
The Kelantan government and 13 other defendants have filed an application to strike out the case against them.
Also appearing for the Orang Asli villagers were lawyers Rajesh Nagarajan and Arun Ganesh Boopalan, who have taken on the case “pro bono”.
Last March 18, Ahak, Aziz Angah, 33, and Anjang Uda, 30 filed a suit on behalf of 200 families in two Orang Asli settlements in the Gua Musang district to declare that they were the rightful owners of their ancestral land.
The plaintiffs claimed that their ancestral land had been used for logging, planting of oil palm, rubber trees and mining of ores and that these activities had affected their livelihood and ability to seek sustenance.
Syarikat Perlombongan Gua Musang Sdn Bhd, Redstar Capital Sdn Bhd, Aqua Orion Sdn Bhd, Damai Corporate Services Sdn Bhd, Sindiyan Sdn Bhd, and Sindiyan Agro Park Sdn Bhd were named as the first to sixth defendants, respectively.
Ladang Kelantan Sdn Bhd, Ikrar Bumi Sdn Bhd, Ladang Ulu Nenggiri Sdn Bhd, Iliasco Engineering & Construction Sdn Bhd, Kelantan Lands and Mines Department, Kelantan Forestry Department, Orang Asli Development Department and the Kelantan state government were named as the seventh to 14th defendants.
SOURCE: FREE MALAYSIA TODAY, MALAYSIA April 21, 2022