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Orang Asli drop case against Pahang govt

 | March 10, 2011

It's been a long legal battle over land, water and electricity for the Orang Asli in Termerloh, Pahang.

PUTRAJAYA: The Orang Asli in Kampung Pasu, Temerloh, have called off their legal battle with the Pahang government after the latter agreed to reconnect water and electricity supply to their multi-community hall.

Today, Court of Appeal judges Jeffrey Tan Kok Hwa, Mohamed Apandi Ali, and Mohamad Ariff Md Yusoff, who heard the Orang Asli’s argument to secure pemanent electricity and water supply from the authorties, ordered them and the Pahang government to “settle the issue”.

Since 2006, the Orang Asli have been battling with the Termerloh District and Land Office and the Pahang government, first, over the land on which the hall was built and then the supply of water and electricity.

Counsel for the Orang Asli, Steven Thiru, said they had earlier reached an agreement with the Termerloh District and Land Office and the Pahang government.

He said that Tenaga Nasional Bhd and the Water Supply Department have reconnected both water and power supply to the hall, which has been used by some 70 Orang Asli Christians for religious purposes and as a tuition centre for the Orang Asli children.

No encroachment

The community has also agreed that the status quo of the land be maintained.

“Our position is that this is native customary land. However, we will pursue the matter another time,” Thiru said.

“At the moment, there is no encroachment. We’ll file a new suit if there is one,” he added.

The decision brought much relief to churchgoers Wet Ket, 60, and his son Yaman Ket, 34, who filed the suit against the Pahang government.

“We are happy and we thank God,” Yaman said, adding that their claim over the land would be settled in another proceeding.

The Orang Asli maintain that their land in Kampung Pasu is a native customary rights (NCR) land. However, the Pahang government and the Temerloh District and Land Office maintained it is state land.

Not gazetted land

In July 2003, Wet and Yaman erected the hall which the district office declared as illegal. In 2006, when the state government demolished the building, Wet and Yaman lodged a police report.

Following negotiations, the government gave them RM35,000 in compensation and allowed them to rebuild their hall, but withheld supplying water and electricity.

In 2007, Wet and Yaman filed a suit against the Land and District Office to get the electricty supply restored.

But in 2008, the Temerloh High Court decided that the Pahang government had the right to disconnect the water and power supply as the building was erected on state land.

In 2009, the Court of Appeal granted the Orang Asli leave to apply to quash the High Court’s decision in favour of the Temerloh Land and District Office.

On Jan 5, 2011, the Temerloh High Court dismissed the Orang Asli’s application seeking a judicial review of its decision.

At that time, Judicial Commissioner Justice Akhtar Tahir, in his ruling, said that the land on which the hall was built was not gazetted for the Orang Asli.

Besides Thiru, Wet and Yaman were represented by Annou Xavier and Anthony Ng Bee Ken while the Temerloh Land and District Office and the Pahang government were represented by Pahang State Legal adviser Md Zaraai and Kamal Azira.


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