Orang Asli elder Sagong Tasi, who won a landmark case on customary land rights against the Selangor government in 2002, has passed away.
According to a post on the Centre for Orang Asli Concern (COAC) Facebook page, he died at 11.15pm yesterday, after being bedridden from a stroke he suffered two months ago.
Sagong was 88.
The Temuan elder's case set legal precedent that recognised the rights of the Orang Asli to their customary lands.
In 1995, Selangor authorities ordered members of the Temuan tribe at Kampong Bukit Tampoi to vacate their homes.
They were given 14 days to leave, and monetary compensation was offered for their destroyed homes, fruit trees and crops – but not for their ancestral land. They refused to leave and were forcibly evicted by the police.
In response, the Temuan plaintiffs sued the federal government, the Selangor government, the Highway Authority (LLM) and contractor United Engineers Malaysia Bhd (UEM Group) for the forced eviction.
In April 2002, the Shah Alam High Court ruled that the Temuan plaintiffs were the customary owners of the land, and that the Selangor government had breached their fiduciary duties.
The court also ordered financial compensation for the plaintiffs.
The case then went up to the Federal Court for appeal, but when the now-defunct Pakatan Rakyat took over Selangor after the 2008 general election, it decided to put the case on ice, pending an internal study.
The appeal was later withdrawn and subsequently, a final settlement of RM6.5 million was paid out to the plaintiffs.