|RAZIAH TAIB MAHMUD|
KUCHING: The Kuching Court on Friday ordered the defendants including quality concrete holding, a company owned by Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud’s sister Raziah to pay RM160, 000 over damages to Numpang Anak Suntai and Iban landowners of Sebangan and Sebuyau.
The other defendants were Loyal Billion Sdn Bhd, the Director of Forests and the state government.
Numpang and 14 other landowners on behalf of 276 Ibans sued the companies and the government for encroaching into 3,305 hectares of forests claimed by the natives as their native customary rights land.
Quality Concrete, which is owned by Raziah was sued as it is the licence holder, while the Loyal Billion company was the contractor.
The Forest Department, the Director of Lands and Surveys and the state government were also named as defendants.
When the case came before Judicial Commissioner Ravinthran N Paramaguru this Friday morning, lawyers for defendants told the court that the Director of Forest had agreed to exclude three areas on the western side of the timber licence (T/8473) which is within the area marked as native customary rights.
The defense counsels said that there was no more timber licence granted on any part of the area claimed by the plaintiffs as NCR land in the marked in the map which is attached to the statement of claim.
Both lawyers for the plaintiffs and defendants agreed to an amicable settlement on damages.
The natives had claimed that their land was damaged as a result of the construction of roads and extraction of timber from the land, which is not a licensed area.
They also alleged that the rivers which are important for their daily needs have been found to be polluted by the logging activities.
This had also affected their farms, hunting and fishing ground as well as their cultivated gardens.
The natives wanted the court to assess the losses and damages suffered by the people.
In consenting to the order, the judge ordered the second defendants to pay to the plaintiffs a sum of RM160,000 over damages and this consent order shall not in any way affect the plaintiffs’ claim vis a vis the 5th defendants (Director of forest), sixth defendants (Director of Lands and Surveys) and the seventh defendants (the state government).
The judge said that the payment of the said RM160,000 is to be made payable directly to Baru Bian Advocates and Solicitors, and the first defendant (Quality Concrete) and the second defendant (Loyal Billion) shall not submit their application for renewal of timber licence over the licence area shaded yellow in the locality map annexed herewith and marked as exhibit ‘Q’.
Meanwhile, the suit by the Ibans will proceed next week against the Director of Forest, the Director of Lands and Surveys and the state government over their claims that 3,305 hectares of the forest are part of their native customary rights land.