Mah Meri tribe evicted from village to make way for tourism project

Raevathi Supramaniam

The site where the Mah Meri of Kg Orang Asli Bagan Lalang have been asked to vacate is to be part of a future tourism destination under the Sepang GoldCoast development project. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, May 14, 2021.

THE Mah Meri people of Kg Orang Asli Bagan Lalang have been told to vacate their village because the land is slated to be developed into a tourist destination under the Sepang GoldCoast development project, Permodalan Negeri Selangor Bhd (PNSB) said.

The village is a brief walk from the sandy beach that faces the Straits of Malacca, while the Avani Sepang Gold Coast Resort is a short distance away.

“The plan is to develop the area for tourism by Sepang Bay Sdn Bhd as part of the Sepang GoldCoast development project,” the company told The Malaysian Insight in response to a report on the eviction notice served to more than 30 Orang Asli in the village.

PNSB said the Orang Asli’s appeal for an extension to their eviction will be considered by the Sepang district and land office. PNSB and the land office are the landowners.

On April 20, 36 Orang Asli from 12 families in the village were served with the eviction notice. They have to vacate the land within 30 days from the date of the notice.

Orang Asli first settled on the land about 20 years ago. Acknowledging they are squatters on the land, they have asked for an extension of time, saying they were not consulted prior to receiving the eviction notice, and also have few options for relocation.

“PNSB can in principle consider the request for an extension of the eviction notice as the date stated on the notice is not the final date for demolition, but rather to inform the villagers that they are encroaching on our land.

“However, all decisions (with regard to the extension) will be determined by the Sepang land and district office,” the company said.

PNSB also confirmed it had indeed received the villagers’ letter asking for an extension, from Taha Bin Akhir, the Tok Batin of Kg Orang Asli Bukit Bangkung who also looks after Kg Bagan Lalang.

Taha cited the fasting month, Hari Raya, the Covid-19 pandemic and the fact that the villagers have nowhere to go, as reasons for an extension.

Although the villagers were not told what the plan for the land was, PNSB said the company is looking to develop it into a tourist destination.

According to its website, the Sepang GoldCoast development project has an estimated gross development value of RM1 billion.

It wants to transform the area into “a world-class coastal eco-city in sustainability and value creation”.

The first phase of the project started with the building of the Avani resort. The second phase involves a development plan called D’Festival and Laguna Villa.

D’Festival will feature a mixed commercial development for resort living, business and entertainment while Laguna Villa will feature a lagoon resort made with environmentally sustainable technology.

The eviction notice from PNSB’s legal department stated that Plot No 69, HS(D) 18372, PT 5249, Plot No 70, HS(D) 18373, PT 5250, HS(D) 37248 and PT 9925 belonged to the company.

“In total, PNSB owns 67.8ha of the land while the district and land office owns 0.4ha of land near the General Operations Force building in the village,” it said. – May 14, 2021.

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