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P'pang hill cutting: Contractor and seven others sued
Published on: Thursday, May 19, 2016

Kota Kinabalu: A 54-year-old farmer is suing a contractor and the State Government over the alleged illegal hill cutting activity in Penampang.

The plaintiff, Elios @ Randi Payu who is the secretary of the Tagal Committee in Kg Moyog, named Ooi Say Tuan, Land and Survey Director, Environment Protection Department Director, the Sabah Chief Minister, Agriculture Department Director, Public Works Department Director, Drainage and Irrigation Director and Sabah State Government as the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth defendants, respectively. He filed the suit through counsel Marcel Jude at the High Court registry via e-filing on Wednesday.

In his statement of claim, Elios claimed that Ooi, a contractor and planter, has illegally and unlawfully cleared an area situated on a hill at Kampung Mongkusilad near Mile 24, Tambunan-Moyog road (referred to as the Hill Cut Area) and has undertaken the building of illegal structures, hill cutting and agricultural activities at the Hill Cut Area.

Elios said on or about November 2014, he discovered that the first defendant was engaged in hill cutting activities in water catchment areas in hilly areas of the Penampang district.

He claimed that the activities of the first defendant also attracted worldwide attention, namely one United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health, Dainius Puras.

He visited local communities in Moyog, particularly those affected by hill-cutting activities upstream of the Moyog River, including Kampung Togudon, where the hill-cutting and land-clearing activities were taking place, Kampung Mongkusilad and Kampung Notoruss, where a quarry project had also met with objections from the local communities.

The visit was part of their collection of information from the local communities on how the said activities had directly and indirectly affected the livelihood and wellbeing of the villagers, who depended very much on the Moyog River for sustenance.

Villagers had claimed that the hill cutting activities, which started about four years ago, had polluted the Moyog River and subsequently the local communities located along the river.

The plaintiff also said he shall rely on local newspaper reports on the hill cutting and land clearing activities for the trial of the action.

The plaintiff said on May 8, this year, he made a visit to the site of where the defendant was undertaking the unlawful and illegal activities of hill cutting and discovered, among others, namely construction of roads and or highways without authorisation; construction of roads and highways on ecologically sensitive areas; destruction of natural resources including but not limited to flora and fauna and vegetation of Kg Mongkusilad; destruction of forest produce licence; construction of buildings, structures and dwellings without permission of the relevant authorities; disposal and removal of earth and other parts of the land without proper authorisation; agricultural activities in an area not zoned for the conduct of such activities and conduct of agricultural activities without proper consent or licences from the relevant authorities.

However, to the amazement of the plaintiff and many villagers in Penampang, he was shocked to find the second defendant giving a statement to the press on or about May 10, 2016 that there was no truth to the claims of the plaintiff that the first defendant was undertaking unlawful and illegal activities.

The plaintiff claimed that as the result, the first defendant continued the unlawful activities and the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth defendants have not undertaken any steps to stop or prevent the first defendant from continuing or engaging in such unlawful activities in and around the Hill Cut Area and that by such reason, he has suffered loss and damage.

The plaintiff is seeking a declaration that the activities of the first defendant are unlawful and illegal pursuant to the relevant provisions of the Land Ordinance of Sabah Cap. 30 and other State and Federal legislation governing the environment and its safety, the laws against pollution, the construction of roads, parts and highways, the conduct of agricultural activities in Sabah, the protection of natural resources of the State, the laws governing the drainage and irrigation of Sabah and all other rules and regulations in connection or incidental to the defendant's activities in the Hill Cut Area.

He is also seeking a declaration that the statement of the second defendant on May 10, 2016 in connection with the Hill Cut Area and published in the local newspapers is false, misleading, defamatory and untrue.

He is also seeking an injunction restraining the first defendant whether by himself or by his premises situated at Kampung Mongkusilad, Mile 24,Tambunan Moyog Road and the surrounding areas from undertaking any activity whether commercial or otherwise and in connection with changing or altering the topography of the said Hill Cut Area.

The plaintiff is also seeking a mandatory injunction against the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth defendant whether by himself or by his workers, servants or agents from undertaking any activity whether commercial or otherwise in or around the Hill Cut Area.

He is also claiming damages against the first defendant for negligence arising from the unlawful activities.

He is also seeking damages against the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth and eighth defendants for breach of statutory duty and for negligence, as well as seeking damages against the second defendant for defamation and fraudulent statement.

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