No conflict of interest, says exco in charge of Orang Asli over hydro plant construction

John Bunyan
Orang Asli from all the affected villages in Ulu Geruntum protesting the construction of the hydro plant August 15, 2018. — Picture by Farhan Najib

GOPENG Aug 15 — The exco in charge of Orang Asli community Asmuni Awi today said that there will be no conflict of interest in the case of his former firm, which is representing the contractor involved in the construction of a mini hydro power plant in Ulu Geruntum here.

Asmuni said he was no longer attached with Awi and Co, which is currently representing Perak Hydro Renewable Energy Corporation Sdn Bhd (PHREC).

“I am no longer a practicing lawyer and the legal firm has nothing to do with me. It is not my law firm and I’m no longer there,” he told reporters after visiting the hydro plant construction site here.

On April 25, a group of 35 Orang Asli settlers from the villages in Ulu Geruntum filed a suit against the Federal government, the Perak state government and four others, including PHREC at the Ipoh High Court over the project.

They sought several declarations and injunctions from the High Court to protect their ancestral land and stop the defendants or their agents from encroaching on the land further.

State committee chairman Asmuni Awi visiting the construction site of a mini hydro power plant in Ulu Geruntum, Gopeng August 15, 2018.

Asmuni said it was not for him to decide whether the project is to be continued or suspended.

“I will bring the matter up during the next state exco meeting and the final decision will be a collective one,” said Asmuni.

However, Asmuni said that the stop work order for the project will still stay.

Meanwhile, the Orang Asli from all the affected villages continued to oppose the construction of the hydro plant and requested the state government to fulfill their promise to stop the project once for all.

“Before the election, the Pakatan Harapan government promise us that they will stop this project if they win, but despite winning the project was only stopped temporary,” said Azlan Bah Derngui a villager from the Orang Asli community in Ulu Geruntum.

“If all our ancestral land belong to the state government, then where is our right and which is our land. Where does the state government expect us to carry out our livelihood?

“We will take any compensation given by the contractor, but we still don’t want the project to be continued. The compensation is for the damaged caused to our plantation and burial ground,” said the 50-year-old.

Another villager Wahngah Tangoi, 61, said that their livelihood is badly affected due to the alleged land clearance contractor.

“We lost our source of income after our plantations were destroyed. We solely depended on it for our income, we have children and family to feed.

“I don’t know what we are going to do now. I hope the government will stop this project for good,” she said.