Attorney-General (A-G) Tommy Thomas today, 18 January, said that the Federal Government is suing the Kelantan state government for violating the land rights of the Temiar Orang Asli community
The A-G said that private companies in the state were granted logging rights in Gua Musang by the Kelantan government and its agencies without consulting the Temiar community or offering them compensation, according to a report in Malaysiakini.
He explained that the private companies entered the Temiar land at Simpor Post with heavy machinery and logging forests and carrying out timber logs.
"Their actions have deprived the Temiar Orang Asli of their native land and resources, and have caused widespread erosion, pollution, and irreparable damage to the ecology and landscape of Pos Simpor (in Gua Musang)," Tommy Thomas was quoted saying.
It's the first time since Merdeka that Putrajaya is instituting legal proceedings on behalf of the Orang Asli, the Attorney-General said
According to Tommy, the civil suit against the Kelantan state government is in recognition of the federal government's constitutional and legal duty to protect and promote the Orang Ali community's wellbeing and advancement.
"Having researched the law, this Chambers has filed a civil suit in the High Court at Kota Baru for the federal government of Malaysia," he said in a statement on Friday.
While noting that while land, forestry and mining matters fell within the state government’s jurisdiction, the A-G added that it was also bound by a "paramount and non-delegable duty" to protect and preserve the welfare of the Temiar Orang Asli.
The federal government would represent the Temiar for free
The suit named the Kelantan govt, the state director of Lands and Mines, the state director of the Forestry Department, and five private entities as defendants.
It seeks legal recognition of the Temiar Orang Asli's native land rights in Pos Simpor along with injunctions to prevent private entities from encroaching on and destroying the native land for commercial profit, Tommy Thomas added.
Tommy said the decision to sue Kelantan was made after Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was moved by Temiar's plight
Tommy Thomas said the federal government viewed the encroachments on those lands seriously and that commercial development and the pursuit of profit must not come at the expense of the Temiar Orang Asli and their inherent right as citizens of the country, to the land and resources which they had traditionally owned and used.
He added that while the Orang Asli had a deep connection with their ancestral land, which they rely heavily upon for economic and cultural sustenance, the fundamental rights of the Orang Asli had been neglected and infringed for far too long.
"Moved by their plight, the Prime Minister and the Cabinet resolved that legal proceedings be considered to reflect the federal government’s commitment to the Orang Asli. Additionally, this is honouring a promise in its manifesto," he said.
In August, a durian plantation company destroyed blockades built by Orang Asli residing near Pos Tohoi in Gua Musang: