PETALING JAYA: A civil suit filed by Orang Asli residents of Kampung Pos Lanai in Kuala Lipis against the Pahang state government and Putrajaya over their land customary rights will be heard next week.
In a statement, the residents said the Temerloh High Court has set April 10 to 13 to hear the civil action.
They have named the Pahang state and federal governments, state lands and mines department director, state forestry department director and Orang Asli development department (Jakoa) director-general as defendants.
The residents are seeking a declaration from the High Court that they are the sole holder of customary and land rights of Kampung Pos Lanai.
They are also seeking a declaration that the state and federal governments have no right to perform or allow any activities, such as mining, to be conducted on their land.
They also want the court to instruct the Pahang state government to gazette Kampung Pos Lanai as an Orang Asli settlement under the Aboriginal Peoples Act 1954.
The suit was first filed in 2021. The residents are represented by lawyer Harneshpal Singh Bhullah from Messrs Lui & Bhullar.
“We have been living at Kampung Pos Lanai, Kuala Lipis, Pahang, since time immemorial as a community that is culturally separate and identifiable,” they said.
However, they claimed there had been multiple efforts by the authorities to relocate them, with Jakoa urging them to move in 2011 to a resettlement project in Kampung Pantos.
They claimed this was to make way for the now-cancelled Telom Dam project, which would have flooded their village area.
“After taking the matter to court and holding several protests against the project, it was finally scrapped by the Pakatan Harapan government in 2019.”
They also claimed there was a proposal to mine for rare earth elements upstream of Sungai Telom in 2021, involving 660 hectares of forest area.
This, they said, would have contaminated the river which was their main source of water.
While the project had been delayed, Harian Metro had reported that the Lipis forestry department had discovered an illegal attempt to mine rare earth elements in the Ulu Jelai forest reserve, which is near Kampung Pos Lanai.
“Because we have been continuously harassed by repeated encroachments on our land, we decided to defend our customary land by filing a civil action at the Temerloh High Court in 2021.”