Orang Asli sue over dam on ancestral land

Published: 19 May 2015


Hafiz Yatim
Malaysiakini.com | 18 May 2015

Eleven Orang Asli from the community in Pos Lanai, near Kuala Lipis in Pahang, have filed a suit to challenge the construction of a hydroelectric dam on their ancestral land.

The suit was filed in the High Court in Kuala Lumpur and it names Tenaga Nasional Bhd, the Orang Asli Affairs Department and the Pahang and federal governments as defendants.

The Orang Asli led by Jeffry Hassan claimed TNB wanted to flood 7,600ha of their ancestral land just to produce 132MW of electricity through the Telom dam.

Besides Jeffry, the others are Tuny a/l Amir, Mustafa a/l Atok, Zamri Abdullah, Mat Nor a/l Ayat, Yunus Sebel, Seman Uman, Ahmad Along, Atan Jek, Adam Malik Agas and Azinor Mustafa.

All 11 claimed the TNB action went against the Federal Constitution regarding Orang Asli rights and further alleged that there was breach of trust, fraud and illegal trespassing on their land.

The matter came up for case management today before senior assistant registrar Nurdiana Mohd Nazari, who fixed July 9 for further case management before Justice Nooraini Abdul Rahman.

The Orang Asli community filed the suit on April 17 through the legal firm of Raj, Ong and Yudistra.

In their suit, they want the court to recognise the said land as native title land and that they are the landowners.

They further sought a declaration that the land seizure was not in accordance with the Land Act 1960, Orang Asli Act 1954 and the Federal Constitution.

Apart from damages, they are also seeking an injunction to prevent the TNB or its agents from encroaching the land to perform any work.


Ancestral land for centuries

“Our ancestors have lived on the land for hundreds of years before the British. The land also includes our burial site as there are thousands of tombs,” Jeffry said, adding that those affected are about 1,000 people from 300 families. 

He claimed that the authorities came and placed the affected families in modern PPRT (Hardcore Poor Housing Project) units on the guise that they now have two houses, one with the ancestral land and the other the modern house.

However, after some of them moved, TNB said it planned to acquire the land to make way for the dam, Jeffry told reporters.

He said a majority of them accepted the proposal but there are about 30 percent who opposed it, and hence the action.

“We want to protect the forest, our ancestral land, our supply of clean water and other various resources in the forest from being destroyed,” said the 28-year-old plaintiff.

“The decision to move us to our new houses by the JHEOA is meant to trick or fraudulently remove us from the said land to this new settlement with low cost housing development,” he added.

Jeffry said he fears that if the land is transformed into a dam, their ancestral land would be gone forever.  


From left: Jeffry, Mat Nor, Adam Malik & Tuny.


Lawyer Yudistra Darmadoorai who is representing the Semai plaintiffs in this case.


Some of the passers-by curious to know what was happening.