Orang Asli families reach RM1.4m settlement with Putrajaya over seven runaway boarding school students

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The families of seven Orang Asli boarding school students who went missing in 2015 agreed to an RM1.41 million out-of-court settlement with the government yesterday.

The students were then aged between seven and 12. Only two of those who went missing survived.

The settlement was reached just as the negligence lawsuit filed in 2018 by six of the seven families was to be heard in the High Court in Kota Baru, Kelantan yesterday, The Star reported last night.

The daily cited lawyer and activist Siti Kassim, who was scheduled to be the first witness to testify, saying the settlement discussions between the lawyers for the Orang Asli families and the government took place outside the courtroom.

She was reported saying the agreed sum included RM60,000 for legal costs and an extra RM160,000 from insurance companies and would be distributed equally among the families of six who filed the lawsuit.

“We have spent much time and money to get to this point but I am thankful to the team of lawyers and experts that have finally helped the families find some closure.

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“The incident has been extremely traumatising for both the surviving students and families involved as the thought of losing one’s child after entrusting them to a boarding school must have been extremely painful,” Siti was quoted as saying.

Past media reports, including national news agency Bernama, reported that the seven students ran into the jungle from the SK Tohoi boarding school in Gua Musang on August 23, 2015, fearing they would be punished for bathing in a nearby river without permission.

Ika Ayel and Juvina David were both aged seven then while three were aged eight: Haikal Yaakob, Linda Rosli, and Sasa Sobrie. The remaining two were Noreen Yaakob, then 11, and Miksudiar Aluj, then 12.

Only the oldest two were found alive along the Sungai Perias riverbank on October 9, 2015, after a 47-day search operation.

The bodies of four children were recovered, except that of Sasa. – MMO