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Malaysia court issues stop work order to developers of dam project on Orang Asli Indigenous People) land

FREE MALAYSIA TODAY Wed, October 14, 2020

The Orang Asli claim rights on their land which was cleared without their consent.

IPOH: The High Court here has temporarily ordered two companies involved in the construction of a hydroelectric dam on ancestral land in Gopeng to stop work pending the disposal of an injunction by a group of Orang Asli.

Judicial Commissioner G Bhupinder Singh said Perak Hydro Renewable Energy Corporation Sdn Bhd and Conso Hydro or their agents could not encroach the land and carry out construction.

The ad-interim injunction was issued today and would be in force until Bhupinder heard the injunction on Nov 3. An ad interim injunction is issued pending the actual hearing of the injunction.

A group of 22 orang asli settlers from Ulu Geruntum, Gopeng, represented by K Vinu and Conrad Lopez, filed the injunction last week but lawyers for the developers needed time to respond. The temporary restraining order was issued to ensure the status quo remained.

Two years ago the Orang Asli settlers filed a suit naming Perak Hydro Renewable Energy Corporation, Conso Hydro, the Perak government, Orang Asli development department (Jakoa) director-general, the Perak Lands and Mines Department, and the federal government as defendants.

The plaintiffs want the dam work stopped as it infringed the community’s rights on their ancestral land which they claim was cleared without their consent.

The settlers, who are from the Semai tribe, come from six villages in the Ulu Geruntum area namely Kampung Sungai Kapor, Kampung Sat, Kampung Ulu Kepayang, Kampung Empang Main, Kampung Poh dan Kampung Ulu Geruntum.

The two private companies started the project in Sungai Geruntum in 2012.

They said the project destroyed fruit tree plantations and about 50 ancestral burial grounds without permission from the Semai people in Ulu Geruntum.

They said the water source was also contaminated.

The plaintiffs added that the state and federal agencies had a fiduciary duty to protect their rights under the Federal Constitution and the Aboriginal Peoples Act 1954.

Among the declarations and injunctions sought by the plaintiffs are that they are the legal owners of the ancestral land in Ulu Geruntum and that the defendants had no right to damage or extinguish their land rights.

They are also seeking the court to order the companies to vacate the land immediately and compensate the plaintiffs for the encroachment.

The group also wants the court to order the federal and state governments to compensate them for failing to uphold their fiduciary duties.

Last year, the High Court also dismissed an application by the two companies to strike out the suit.

Then Judicial Commissioner Anselm Charles Fernandis said it would be too drastic for the court to dismiss the suit as there were issues to be tried and determined.

Vinu said the main trial date would be fixed after the disposal of the injunction.

Source: FREE MALAYSIA TODAY, MALAYSIA Wed, October 14, 2020

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