Keris-armed Orang Asli ready to battle for land rights

By Rahmah Ghazali and Hisyam Salleh, Free Malaysia Today

OLAK LEMPIT: The Orang Asli are prepared to unsheathe their keris to defend their land and rights from “invaders” as a desperate act of resistance.

If they don’t fight, they fear they have to answer to their angry ancestors in the hereafter.

However, these humble and unassuming indigenous people prefer not to resort to violence. Instead, they want to battle the Selangor government in court for failing to protect them from the encroaching outsiders who have gobbled up their ancestral land.

They want to take the Selangor government to court next month for failing to act on their behalf against the injustice that had been perpetrated on them since 1990.

Dewi Malam, a Tok Batin representative from Kampung Orang Asli in Pulau Kempas, said the community has lost 17,500 acres of land out of 17,900 acres given them by the fourth Selangor Sultan Abdul Samad more than a century ago.

The land was finally gazetted to them in 1927.

Based on a copy from the National Archive, Dewi said the gazetted land borders ELITE highway all the way down to Kampung Kubang Beras and reaches the border of Pekan Sungai Manggis. It then goes up to Teluk Panglima Garang until Jalan Kebun on the east side of the district.

However, over the years, the land has shrunk because of encroachments by Tenaga Nasional Bhd, ELITE highway, state-owned Permodalan Negeri Selangor Bhd and a contractor LBS Bina Group Sdn Bhd.

And all these invaders, too, cannot escape from facing court scrutiny, said Dewi, 49.

“We are not here to discuss with any of them. We are here to bring the matter to court. That is the only option left because we no longer have faith in the current (Selangor government) leadership.

“We want to fight this in court and let the judge decide our fate,” he told FMT in an exclusive interview at his village here.

He said the legal action against the current state government and other responsible parties would be the first step towards initiating a similar move against the federal government and the previous state administration.

“We want to take one step at a time. First, we will take action against the things that are happening right under our nose. Later, we will look at the bigger picture,” he said.

Royal command to ‘kill’

Dewi recalled that the late Sultan Abdul Samad had passed on a “sacred” keris to the Orang Asli community in the area for them to use if their land was invaded.