Thursday, April 10, 2008

Tambunan villages win suit against Sabah

This is another case of government incompetency whereby complaints have been made to Keningau District Office but the problem (of illegal logging and encroachment) remained unsolved and the rakyat continue to suffer.

Even with authority, the government officials cannot take action against those responsible. Was it the parties involved are political immune to the law or was it the government officials were given hampers, cash envelop, air tickets, and what not.

When the case was taken to court and when they win the case, the state government will have to compensate the plaintiffs with government money, our money.

This thing would not have happen if the government officials act promptly when reports are initially lodged.


Extracted from: (Apr 10, 2008)

Villagers win suit against State Govt

Kota Kinabalu: The residents of four villages in Tambunan will remember March 28, 2008, for the rest of their lives because it was the day in which they won a suit against the State Government.

High Court Judge Datuk Nurchaya Haji Arshad had ordered the defendants, the State Government of Sabah, a senior government officer and a government officer, to pay the sum of RM100,000 to the plaintiffs.

In the suit the residents were represented by Joannes Anggon, Dayong Unkong, Gapel Sondokiri and Eging Sasai.

The four had filed the suit at the High Court here on Oct. 2, 2003, on behalf of themselves and villagers of Kampung Donggiulang, Rantai, Bundu and Tiga, as they had only wanted their rights as citizens of this country protected.

The villagers' woes began on June 12, 2000, when the gravity pipe project at the four villages (jointly referred to as "Bundu Apin-Apin Area") was launched despite the Village Development and Security Committee (JKKK) saying it was not supposed to commence yet due to several reasons.

The joint Bundu JKKKs (G4JKKK) had applied for gravity pipe to be built in Kampung Donggiluang, Rantai, Bundu and Tiga to the Health Ministry via the Tambunan Health Department since 1988.

Joannes said their application was approved but could not be carried out due to insufficient funds. "The Tambunan Health Department informed us that the application would, however, be included in the Eighth Malaysia Plan (8MP)," he said.

But in May 2000, he said that the G4JKKK suddenly had a change of heart and applied that the gravity pipe project be built through the logging areas.

The area, he said, is located within the villages' water catchment that has also been gazetted as water catchment by the Government.

The construction of the gravity pipe through logging areas was officiated in June 17, 2000. However, Joannes said as time passed, about 3,000 acres of land had been logged but the construction of the gravity pipes was only 35 per cent completed.

"We've initiated several efforts to urge the Keningau District Office to take serious note of the matter but were unsuccessful," he said.

When the villagers had lodged protests and stopped the logging activities in 2001, the timber company was finally ordered to furnish deposit of RM100,000 to the Keningau District Office as collateral to ensure the gravity pipe project is completed.

Nevertheless, Joannes said this had not changed the situation a bit because the logging activities continued more fervently and the company also did not fulfil its promise to give the deposit to the District Office.

"The villagers then had no choice but to take the matter to court and filed the suit with the Kota Kinabalu High Court in Oct. 3, 2003," he said.

The villagers conducted three expeditions in the area to count the tree stumps as proof that there were rampant logging activities in the area while the construction of the gravity pipes was not running smoothly.

Nevertheless, Joannes said after waiting patiently for five years since the suit was filed in 2003, they were elated that the court ruled in favour of the people.

"I am really glad the case was settled. This has been an experience for us where throughout the case, we've gone through many challenges but our fighting spirit for justice overcome everything else," he said.

Secretary of Bundu Action Committee, Galus Ahtoi, urged government officers to be more professional and not take lightly the problems and needs of the society.

"I also hope this case will serve as a valuable experience to all communities in rural areas especially in handling problems that are related with basic needs of the society," he said.

He thanked legal advisor to Bundu Action Committee, Datuk Kong Hong Ming, Partners of Community Organisations (Pacos), the people at Apin-Apin and Merampong Keningau, government officers and the media.

Kong, however, said even though the plaintiffs were elated with the court's judgement, it would mean that taxpayers' money would be used to pay them.

Meanwhile, Galus said the gravity pipes had since been completed using funds obtained from elsewhere. He said that the RM100,000 would be kept as a trust fund for the benefit of the villagers.


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