Orang Seletar win another round in Court
Published: 25 June 2014
The Orang Seletar of Kampung Sungai Temon and Bakar Batu in Danga Bay, Johor won another round in the ongoing potentially long and difficult court case to secure their rights over their customary territories.
On Tuesday, 24 June 2014, the Court of Appeal dismissed the application by two developers to have the injunction against them squashed. Node Dua Sdn Bhd and Strait Bay Sdn Bhd, two of 13 Defendants in the main civil suit by the Orang Seletar, were ordered by the Johor Bahru High Court in December 2013 to stop trespassing onto the customary territory of the Orang Seletar and to stop all work there until the case was settled.
Yesterday, the Court of Appeal dismissed their application to have the December injunction set aside.
The 188 Orang Seletar had filed an action in the Johor Bahru High Court against 13 Defendants for declaratory orders concerning their customary territory in and around Kampung Orang Asli Bakar Batu and Kampung Orang Asli Sungai Temon. They also asked for damages for trespass and a perpetual injunction relating to their said customary territory. The Orang Asli Seletar have also alleged in the claim that the Defendants had trespassed and destroyed parts of their burial grounds.
The Orang Seletar customary territory is located within the Iskandar Development Region. The Orang Seletar however claim that they had acquired customary rights in the customary territory since at least the 1950s. The Orang Seletar therefore contend that all subsequent alienation of their territory is unlawful, null and void.
The injunction application was made because Node Dua Sdn Bhd and Strait Bay Sdn Bhd continued with reclamation, construction and earth works on portions of the Orang Seletar's customary territory despite the pending action in court. This encroachment caused substantial damage to their customary territory. The Orang Seletar considered this to be continuing trespass of their customary territory and tantamount to a destruction of the subject matter of their claim, without regard to the pending action in court.
The court case proper continues on 21-23 July 2014. For a background of the case, please go to: http://on.fb.me/1pzvEjb
The Orang Seletar were represented in court today by Steven Thiru, K. Mohan, Lee Lyn-Ni, Dr. Yogeswaran and Aaron Matthews.
The panel of judges comprised Datuk Lim Yee Lan (chair), Dato' Umi Kalthum and Dato' Mohd Zawawi Salleh.
[Photos by Colin Nicholas and Ricklend Christopher.]
The Orang Seletar from Danga Bay chartered a bus to attend the proceedings at the Court of Appeal in Putrajaya.
Aaron explaining to the Orang Seletar what transpired during the court session. The panel of 3 judges returned soon after to deliver the verdict in their favour.
The Orang Seletar were once regarded as pirates by the British. Just as all other anti-Colonials were called rebels or bandits.
The legal team who worked hard on the case. From left: Esther (chambering student), Lee Lyn-Ni, Aaron Matthews, M. Mohan, Dr. Yoges and Steven Thiru.