PETALING JAYA: The Gua Musang magistrate’s court has rejected a logging company’s application to tear down the orang asli blockade there in what is a significant legal victory for the orang asli community protesting against logging there.
Lawyer Siti Kasim, who represented the orang asli said that the logging company, Jajaran Wawasan Enterprise, made an application under Section 99 of the Criminal Procedure Code over land in Pos Balar.
“The court rejected their application. The court believes that the orang asli are the ones with the rightful occupation and actual possession of the land,” said Siti.
Section 99 allows for the courts to declare a party to be entitled to retain possession of property, in this case the land, if there was a dispute over it by different parties in terms of who was in actual possession of it.
One party applies to be declared in actual possession while the other parties attempt to disprove their claim in court, after which the court makes its decision.
“Actual possession is when you are in occupation of the land. You are in control of the land. You live there,” explained Siti.
While this decision only applies to a portion of the land the orang asli are claiming in the Balah forest reserve, Siti said it set the precedent for the orang asli to use against the other logging companies operating there.
“What is interesting is that this also can be used against the loggers by the orang asli, which we are going to do. We are going to do this at all the orang asli areas and try to disprove whoever tries to dispute us,” she said.
However, she said the use of Section 99 only determined who was in actual possession of the land, but did not determine exactly what rights the orang asli community had over the land.
This matter, said Siti, would have to be determined in the civil courts.
“This is the quickest way until the civil court matters are over,” she said.
The orang asli in the Balah forest reserve had set up multiple blockades in an attempt to stop logging in the area, which they claimed was destroying their way of life.
However, the blockades were later dismantled by the Kelantan Forestry Department though the barricades were later rebuilt.