Extracted from Malaysiakini
S'wak govt ordered to compensate
The High Court in Bintulu yesterday ordered the
Justice Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahim also ordered the quantum for compensation to be assessed before the Miri High Court deputy registrar on a date to be fixed later.
“I hope the government will not appeal against the decision,” John
Antau, one of the two lawyers for the plaintiffs, told malaysiakini today. The other is Musa
Dinggat. Both are based in Bintulu.
Cited as respondents were the Superintendent of Land and Survey, the state Planning and Resource Management Ministry and the Sarawak Government.
The government has 30 days from the date of judgement to appeal. It was represented by a senior legal officer from the State Attorney-General's Chambers.
Antau said he did not know what the quantum would be but estimated RM70 million compensation for the plaintiffs based on RM100 for the planted trees almost nearing maturity when the 3000-acre land from a gazetted communal forest was acquired for the smelter plant.
In exchange for the land, the government had offered an alternative site at the nearby Tanjung Payong and also carried out an inventory of all planted trees on the acquired land for payment purposes.
The villagers went to court in April 2002 to pursue claims
for compensation after the Land and Survey Department repeatedly ignored
According to Antau, the natives had high expectations when they entered a joint venture with Chinese investors to plant teak trees as it would raise their income and standard of living.
As their legal advisers, he and Dinggat would help the natives negotiate with the authorities on the quantum of compensation and hoped the authorities would be willing to do so.
Antau, who took up the case in 2000, said he was happy for the people of Kuala Nyalau after a long court hearing and a lot of anxiety.