IPOH: It was a first-round victory for the Semai orang asli community in Ulu Geruntum, Gopeng, when the High Court here dismissed an application by the developers of a mini hydroelectric dam to strike out their suit.
Judicial Commissioner Anselm Charles Fernandis said striking out the case would be a drastic action.
“The case must be allowed to go through a full hearing,” he said, fixing trial for the case for three days starting June 24.
He also awarded RM2,000 in cost to the plaintiffs.
A group of 35 orang asli filed the suit against the Federal Government and the Perak state government in April last year to stop the project.
The suit named Perak Hydro Renewable Energy Corporation Sdn Bhd, Conso Hydro RE Sdn Bhd, the Perak Land and Mines director as well the Orang Asli Development Department director-general as defendants.
The developers – Perak Hydro and Conso Hydro – later filed an application to strike out the suit.
The orang asli were represented by lawyers K. Vinu, Conrad Lopez and Lee Yoong-Uei, while Mohd Fitri Asmun stood in for the developers.
A busload of orang asli from the village earlier arrived at the court for the case.
One of the plaintiffs, Wah Ngah Pili, 57, said they were happy that their case would now go to trial.
“This is what the community has been hoping for and we will fight this case to the end. We want justice to ensure that our ancestral land is preserved,” she said.
The community has been against the project since it started construction in 2012, claiming that it damaged ancestral grave sites and destroyed farms and orchards.