Gibbons to remain under Perhilitan custody pending court hearing

PETALING JAYA: The Court of Appeal has ruled that the six gibbons confiscated by the National Parks and Wildlife Department (Perhilitan) from a rehabilitation project site last year will remain under their custody, pending the hearing of the matter at the Federal Court.

In late December last year, Perhilitan had confiscated the gibbons from the Gibbons Rehabilitation Project (GReP) site in Raub that was operated by Mariana Ramli, a former employee who was dismissed from the department in 2017.

Mariani had been given permission by her employer to rehabilitate six gibbons that would later be released into the wild, but upon her dismissal, the department withdrew that permission.

Mariani challenged her dismissal and the withdrawal of the permission by filing judicial review proceedings.

The High Court had in July 2019 set aside the decision to terminate her employment and also the decision to withdraw the gibbons from her care.

However in November this year, the Court of Appeal overturned the High Court decision on appeal, with Perhilitan then confiscating the gibbons from Dec 29-31 last year.

Mariani had made an application for the stay of the Court of Appeal's decision, which was heard on Thursday (Jan 14).

Mariana had applied for a stay of their decision until an application for leave to appeal at the Federal Court and for the gibbons to be returned to her.

Mariana's lawyer Jesssica Binwani said that the Court was unanimous in deciding that the applicant had failed to show the special circumstances as to why a stay was needed.

She said the court stated that the immediate welfare of the primates were considered since they have been transferred to the National Wildlife Rescue Centre in Sungkai, Perak.

"The court was of the view that the status quo should be maintained pending the disposal of the matter at the Federal Court.

"The Court of Appeal was of the opinion that since the decision of the Federal Court could go either way, the stay could not be granted. Mariani's application for the stay of the Court of Appeal decision was dismissed with no order as to costs," she said.

Justice Lau Bee Lan, Ravinthran Paramaguru and Mohd Sofian Abdul Razak were the panel of judges that heard the application.

Gibbons are small apes endemic to South and South-East Asia.

Five species are considered critically endangered, 14 endangered and one vulnerable under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list of threatened species.

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