Orang Asli sue govt 3 years after Kelantan jungle tragedy

Midah Angah, who lost her son Haikal Yaakob, breaks down at the press conference today.

KUALA LUMPUR: The families of seven Orang Asli children who went missing from their boarding school in SK Pos Tohoi, Gua Musang three years ago, are suing the government and eight public officials for negligence.

Six suits were filed by the families at the Kota Bahru High Court on Aug 13, seeking several declarations relating to Orang Asli education and welfare, as well as an unspecified amount of damages.

The suits were filed against the government of Malaysia and eight officers over their breach of statutory, fiduciary, and constitutional duties, as well as the legitimate expectation of the plaintiffs.

The officers are responsible for the education and administration of the school and the boarding school, and those in charge of rural development, Orang Asli affairs, as well as search and rescue efforts.

“They are also seeking a declaration for what is to come, in terms of Orang Asli education – what has been done and what has not been done,” lawyer Gokul Radhakrishnan said at a press conference by the families at the KL and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH) here today.

Five firms are representing the six families free of charge in the suits.

Gokul is representing Midah Angah, the mother of Noreen and Haikal Yaakob, who were among the seven children who ran away from their hostel in SK Pos Tohoi on Aug 23, 2015.

They are believed to have run away out of fear of being reprimanded by their teacher for bathing in a river nearby without permission.

Out of the seven, only Noreen, 13, and Miksudiar Aluj, 14, survived, after they went missing for 47 days.

Lawyer Siti Kasim at a press conference to announce the suit against the Malaysian government by Orang Asli families.

The remaining five, Noreen’s younger brother, Haikal, Ika Ayel, 9, Juvina David, 7, Linda Rosli, 8, and Sasa Sobrie, 8, all died in the jungle.

Sasa’s remains were never found.

Vocal lawyer and activist Siti Kasim, who was also present, said case management for all six suits has been fixed for Sept 18.

Siti said the delay in filing the suits were due to the difficulty in gathering information from the Orang Asli families, as well as in dealing with government agencies.

“However, we managed to file the suits before the statute of limitations expired,” she said.