KOTA KINABALU: Two logging companies, including one linked to a publicly-listed company, were charged for illegal logging on a forest reserve and state land by Sabah Forestry Department.
The companies, Maxland Sdn Bhd represented by its director Wong Shu Kiew and Better Green Sdn Bhd represented by its Cheung Chau Seng, pleaded not guilty before Session Court judge Indra Ayub at the Sandakan court.
They were charged under separate cases for illegal felling of trees Section 20(2) of the Forest Enactment 1968 for illegal felling of trees inside a forest reserve and Section 23(2) of the same enactment for illegal felling of trees inside state land.
Sessions Court judge Tuan Indra allowed them each a bail of RM100,000 with RM5,000 deposited and two local sureties after the duo pleaded not guilty to two separate charges each.
The judge set trial from May 22 to 24 and case management on Mar 12.
The Forestry Department prosecution team was led by Peter Maurice Lidadun and Peter Jack Osmond while the two companies were defended by counsel Ronny Cham at the Sessions Court proceedings held on Wednesday (Jan 22).
Prior to the setting of bail, Cham told the court that both Maxland and Better Green were both logging contractors for a company Kekal Eramaju Sdn Bhd that was licensed under Section 24 of the Forest Enactment 1968.
He said that Maxland was a company fully owned by Malaysian publicly-listed company Priceworth International Berhad and Better Green Sdn Bhd was one of their subcontractors and there was no fear of them absconding from the trial and as such requested for RM5,000 bail.
The prosecution’s Lidadun proposed RM100,000 bail and two local sureties each while arguing that the total amount of fines for both charges did not exceed RM1,000,000 against the damages to the forests were valued around RM8mil.
Cham disputed the higher bail by saying that Wong, who was also Kekal Eramaju Sdn Bhd director, was discharged by the Magistrate Court in Sandakan with no case to answer on Jan 2,2020.