Jakuns of Kampung Peta to get their say in court

Published: 23 April 2015

Jakuns from Kampung Peta at the Court of Appeal in October 2012.
Jakuns from Kampung Peta at the Court of Appeal in October 2012.

The Jakun-Orang Asli appellants' appeal in the Kampung Peta judicial review application was unanimously allowed by the Court of Appeal with costs, yesterday (22 April 2015).

We are informed by Dr. Yogeswaran that the Court of Appeal further ordered that the case be remitted to the High Court for the substantive hearing of the appellants' judicial review application.

The court of first instance had earlier allowed a preliminary objection by the respondents that the appellants should have proceeded by way of a s 418 National Land Code appeal rather than by way of judicial review (see [2015] 7 MLJ 480; [2014] 1 LNS 734, per Abdul Rahman Sebli J (as he then was)).  

In hearing oral submissions before the court, the Court of Appeal panel consisting of Zawawi Salleh, Badariah Sahamid and Vernon Ong JJCA appeared to be with the appellants' arguments from the start and provided no written grounds for their decision except to rule that there were merits in the appellants' appeal.

Steven Thiru, Rajkumar and Dr Yogeswaran represented the Orang Asli appellants while the Federal government and State government were represented by Khairul Fazly Kamarudin SFC and Wan Zainul Azamin b Khamid respectively.


Background of the case:

The Jakuns of Kampung Peta are descendants of the first inhabitants of the Sg. Endau River valley. When the Endau-Rompin National Park was created in 1993, an area of approximately 90,000 hectares was taken up, including the customary lands of the Jakuns.  The park headquarters was built adjacent to Kampung Peta, which is now located just outside the boundaries of the park.=

The Jakuns however still maintain the gravesites, rubber smallholding and fruit groves within the park area. They also continue to carry out regular ritual ceremonies in various parts of their park, as their ancestors had done.

On 17 January 2012, an order-notice was issued by the Mersing District Land Administrator under the proviso of Section 425 of the National Land Code, to instruct the Orang Asli to vacate from the National Park area and abandon all the structures built and crops planted therein, within one day.  The notice was nailed to a roadside tree next to the Orang Asli farms in the Pantai Burung area.

In 2012, they field a judicial review in the Johor Baru High Court. The court however eventually threw out the case on technical grounds. None of the substantive evidence the Orang Asli had were ever considered. Hence the appeal to the Court of Appeal.

COAC | 23 April 2015