Thursday, September 15, 2011

Honour RM70m court award, govt urged

Source: (By Teoh El Sen, 14/9/2011)
Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak has been urged to step in to resolve the issue of Pahang government’s refusal to pay a logging company RM70 million awarded by the Kuantan High Court.
DAP’s Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng said that the federal government could readily provide a grant or a friendly loan (without interests) to the Pahang government if the latter found it difficult to come up with the money. Said Lim: “I think it’s about time the prime minister intervened… He is a Member of Parliament from Pahang. This is his own state and he shouldn’t ignore this.” Lim also said that the Pahang government has misused and abused Order 73 under the Rules of the High Court 1980, which states that no judgment or orders can be enforced against the government. “We believe that the state government is using this law to shield it from paying the judgment sum. “Legally, the state government may be protected from enforcement actions under this section. But ethically, in the eyes of public, local and foreign investors… the state has failed to honour its business contractual terms and the court of law.” Lim said that never in Malaysian history has the government refused to pay an amount when it has been decided by a court.
“In Penang, (Chief Minister) Lim Guan Eng had always paid what is being awarded by the court even though this was something done by the previous Barisan Nasional state government.” “Why? Because this is what he (Guan Eng) preaches: a good government, transparency and abiding by the law. That’s why Penang has seen a huge jump in foreign investments,” said Lim.
Breaching logging contract
Ten men, directors and shareholders of a logging firm Seruan Gemilang Makmur Sdn Bhd, are now on a hunger strike relay to compel the Pahang government to abide by a court ruling to pay their company some RM70 million. The company had in 2002 sued the state for breaching a logging contract in which Seruan Gemilang claimed it was issued a permit to clear 8,000 acres of forest in Pekan, said to be owned by Pahang Umno. However, it was later discovered that the land was owned by the state government and not Pahang Umno, eventually forcing the company to cease operations until the matter was resolved. In May 2007, the Kuantan High Court ruled in the company’s favour and ordered the Pahang government to pay them more than RM37 million plus interest of 8% per annum. The total comes close to RM70 million. The men started the strike in front of a temple in Segambut on Sept 8, rotating in pairs. Two have since been replaced after they collapsed last week and earlier this week.
‘No respect for law’
PAS’ Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad and PKR’s Selayang MP William Leong visited the hunger strike protesters this morning. “The Pahang state has no respect for the law. The court has ruled, don’t mislead the public. For the state government to completely disregard the court… it is either bankrupt or is just a bunch of gangsters,” he said. “The BN has been in power for too long… getting away with murder in the case of Altantuya Sharriibuu, and it has already corrupted the whole judicial process with Anwar Ibrahim’s trial,” said Khalid. “How can you have a BN state government with such attitude? This is typical of Umno and BN attitude,” he said. It is understood that the hunger strike would last until tonight as the protesters are planning on continuing it near the Balok beach in Kuantan.
Seruan Gemilang manager Lee Sin said this decision was made because there are more than 100 investors, staff, and former workers who would participate in the strike in Pahang. “Besides the 10, we also had other workers who lost their income when the Pahang government stopped the logging work. Eventhough some of them have passed away, we hope to help their family if we can get back the payment,” he said. The group is also hoping to seek an audience with the Pahang Sultan to raise the matter.
Related news: Hunger strike over court payment ends
Lawyer in hunger strike row claims Putrajaya distorting courts

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