The Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) has agreed to waive the legal costs imposed by the High Court in Temerloh against the Orang Asli from Pos Lanai, Pahang, for withdrawing their suit pertaining to the Telom Dam project.
The decision came following a memorandum submitted by Orang Asli activists earlier this month, in which they appealed to attorney-general Tommy Thomas to waive the costs of proceeding for the case as they claimed they could not afford to pay the amount.
In responding to the request, the AGC today also called on Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB), which was also a defendant in the case, to "take the same position" in agreeing to waive the costs.
The court had previously ordered the activists to pay the sum of RM9,000 after they withdrew their suit against TNB, the Orang Asli Development Department, as well as the Pahang and federal governments in relation to the Telom Dam project.
"The AGC has considered the request submitted (by the Orang Asli activists) and agreed to waive costs of proceedings for the third and fourth defendants.
"Similarly, the state legal advisor of Pahang has agreed to waive the same in relation to the second defendant.
"Further, the AGC has requested TNB, the first defendant, to take the same position," it said in a statement today.
The Orang Asli filed an injunction in 2015 to prevent TNB from starting work on the Telom Dam.
They also challenged the acquisition of the land for the dam project, arguing that it was unlawful.
They were granted an injunction by the High Court in Kuala Lumpur four months later.
However, TNB managed to obtain another injunction from the High Court in Temerloh in 2016, this time to bar the Orang Asli from entering the land in question.
Upon submitting the memorandum to the AGC on Jan 8, activist Jeffry Hassan contended that the Orang Asli's struggle against the dam was genuine despite the withdrawal of the suit.
He added that they had decided to withdraw the suit as they disagreed with the court’s decision to transfer the case from the High Court in Kuala Lumpur to the bench in Temerloh.