Orang Asli in the courts again

Published: 29 September 2015

Lawyers Lyn-Ni and Merie discussing the Mengkapor case with two of the Semaq Beri plaintiffs.


The past week saw a flurry of court-related matters and activities involving Orang Asli cases in which COAC was directly involved in. The following is brief update on them.

All of these cases involved work by dedicated pro bono lawyers, including Steven Thiru, Aaron Matthews, Yogeswaran, Amani Williams-Hunt, RS Pani, Lee Lyn-Ni, Merie Chen, Darmain Segaran, Ragumaren, Renu Zecchariah, Lim Heng Seng and M. Rajkumar.

Saling v Kanawagi case
20 September 2105, Johor Bahru High Court

This is a long-running civil suit brought by the Jakuns against ex-lawyers Kanawagi and his son Dinesh (and their firm), for the return or accountability of monies belonging to the Linggiu Valley Orang Asli (Jakuns) Trust Fund. At least RM16 million need to be accounted for and/or returned. At this case management, the lawyers were told that the Chief Justice wanted the case to end by this year, and dates were set for hearing, with the next date being 18 October 2015. (For more details of the case go to this link: http://on.fb.me/ZGp9Ul)

Orang Seletar (Danga Bay) land rights case 
22 September 2015, Johor Bahru High Court

The case involving the Orang Seletar of Kampung Sungai Temun & Kampung Bakar Batu in Danga Bay, Johor Bahru has finally come to a close, as far as the hearings are concerned. The parties are now requried to exchange submissions. (For more details of the case go to this link: http://on.fb.me/1VlkvX6)

Jakuns of Kampung Peta Judicial Review
23 September 2015, Johor Bahru High Court

The Jakuns had lost the case in the first round, but the Court of Appeal ordered a retrial before a different judge. The Jakuns of Kampung Peta are asking for an order to quash the decision of the Mersing District Land Administrator to evict them from parts of the Endau-Rompin National Park, which they claim as their customary land. Dr. Yogeswaran argued on the merits of the judicial review on behalf of the Jakuns. A decision is expected on 21 October 2015. (For more details of the case go to this link: http://on.fb.me/1iZbCRS)

Semai of Kampung Senta land rights case
30 September 2015, Ipoh High Court.

The judge is expected to deliver his decision in this matter on Wednesday. The matter was brought by the Semai-Orang Asli as a counter-suit by some "land-owners" who were given land by the state authorities, land that happened to be the customary lands of the Semai here. The Semais were served eviction notices by these new land-owners. This prompted them (the Semai) to counter-sue. (For more details of the case go to this link:http://on.fb.me/1KQ2LJ8)

Semaq Beri of Kampung Mengkapor
5-8 October 2015, Kuantan High Court

The retrial of this land rights case will be heard next week in Kuantan. The Semaq Beri are asking for their rights to their customary lands in the Berkelah Forest Reserve near Maran to be recognized and for all corporate and individual interests, who have been alienated land there, to vacate the area. Case preparation for the witnesses was done last week in the offices of Shook Lin & Bok. The expert report was also filed last week. (For more details of the case go to this link: http://on.fb.me/1WvNAME

CN-COAC | 29 September 2015