IPOH: The Semai Orang Asli community in Ulu Geruntum, Gopeng scored a victory when the High Court here dismissed an application to strike out their suit filed by the developers of a mini hydro electric dam project in the village.
Judicial Commissioner Anselm Charles Fernandis in his decision said that striking out the case would be a drastic action.
"The case must be allowed to go through a full hearing," he said.
He set hearing for the case for three days starting June 24 and awarded a cost of RM2,000 to the plaintiffs.
The orang asli, numbering about 35, filed the suit against the federal government and the Perak state government in April last year.
The suit also named Perak Hydro Renewable Energy Corporation Sdn Bhd, Conso Hydro RE Sdn Bhd, the Perak Land and Mines director and the Orang Asli Development department director-general as defendants.
However, last year both the developers (Perak Hydro and Conso Hydro) filed an application to strike out the suit.
The orang asli were represented by counsels K. Vinu, Conrad Lopez and Lee Yoong-Uei, while the developers were represented by Mohd Fitri Asmuni.
A bus-load of orang asli from the village were present in court.
In an immediate response, one of the plaintiffs Wah Ngah Pili, 57, said they were happy that their case would go to a full trial.
"This is what the community has been hoping for, and we will fight this case until the end.
"We want justice to ensure our ancestral land is preserved," she added.
The project to construct the dams started in 2012, and the community has been against the project from the beginning.
They said the project works had damaged ancestral grave sites and destroyed farms and orchards.