Unlicensed durian planters lose case against eviction notices in Kuantan High Court

PETALING JAYA: A group of unlicensed durian planters from Raub have lost in their attempt to challenge the eviction notices issued against them.

The Kuantan High Court dismissed the judicial review applications brought by the planters and found that the Pahang authorities' decisions were not tainted by illegality, irrationality, or mala fide.

Judge Justice Mohd Radzi Harun said there was no impropriety or unreasonableness in the decision and the decision-making process when the notices were issued.

"The law is trite that the state government, as the landowner of the land in question, is provided with full discretion and authority to decide how to deal with its land.

"That would include its right to decide to alienate, grant lease or land use rights to any person it deemed fit and appropriate on terms allowed by the law," said the judge in delivering his findings on Wednesday (April 24).

The 186 planters had initiated judicial review proceedings against the Pahang government for issuing eviction notices for occupying lands in the areas of Sungai Chalit, Sungai Klau, Sungai Ruan, Tranum, Tras and the Gunung Benom Forest Reserve.

The planters also applied for a judicial review of the state government's decision to award a lease and rights to use 2,167.9ha of land in Raub to Royal Pahang Durian Group for 30 years and an additional 30 years, as well as making it mandatory for the planters to sell durians to the company.

Justice Mohd Radzi said the court took the majority of the applicants' stay and work on the land for over 60 years at face value.

"They may work and stay on the land for 100 years. The length of their stay does not change the fact that they are squatters.

"Not only do they not have any rights (over the land), they have also committed criminal wrongdoings for so long as they remain on the land without permission of the rightful owner," he said.

The judge also said that the planters' arguments that the land legalisation scheme was a form of forced labour, creating a false market, creating an unfair monopoly and contravened the relevant provisions of the Federal Constitution and Competition Act were too far-fetched, misguided and infused with irrationality and unreasonableness.

He ordered the planters to pay costs amounting to RM600,000.

Meanwhile, the Save Musang King Alliance said they respect the court's decision.

"While we are disappointed, we are not discouraged. We will discuss the matter with our lawyers and study and consider an appeal," the group said in a brief statement.

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Durian , Unlicensed , Planters , High Court , Eviction , Challange , Kuantan ,


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