Kit Siang lauds
A landmark breakthrough for people in protecting open spaces
KOTA KINABALU: Parliamentary Opposition Leader and DAP MP for Ipoh Timur Lim Kit Siang yesterday commended the Tawau Municipal Council (TMC) for admitting that the development of open spaces at Sabindo, Tawau is illegal and invalid. He urged Jeramas Sdn Bhd and Aggasf Construction Sdn Bhd, the developers undertaking the project, to emulate the example of TMC to reach an amicable “win-win” settlement for the interest of ratepayers in Tawau. “I am prepared to offer my conciliation and mediation services to Jeramas Sdn Bhd, Aggasf Construction Sdn Bhd, the 10 Tawau plaintiffs as well as to all Tawau ratepayers to try to achieve such a ‘win-win’ comprehensive out-of-court settlement of the Sabindo ‘Open Spaces’ litigation in the interests of all parties concerned,” he said. Lim told a media conference at Promenade Hotel here the Tawau people had achieved a classic and landmark breakthrough in their long, arduous and uphill battle to protect the “open spaces” in Tawau not only for the people of Tawau but also for the people Sabah and Malaysia. He said he was very uplifted when informed of the breakthrough last night by Jimmy Wong (alias Tiger Wong of Tawau), who together with nine other public-spirited Tawau ratepayers had taken the TMC to court over the unlawful Sabindo development project and the encroachment of the Tawau open spaces and recreational grounds. “Jimmy showed me the Borneo Post report ‘Surprising twist in Tawau open space devt case — Council agrees joint-venture pact for project is invalid’ dated 20th December 2007 which reads: “by Alen Kee Tawau — In a surprising turn of event at the High Court here yesterday, the ten plaintiffs in the controversial Sabindo open space development case reached an amicable settlement with the Tawau Municipal Council (TMC), which is the second defendant.
What was supposed to be a trial turned out to be a hearing as the plaintiff’s lawyer Datuk Simon K.Y. Shim informed Judicial Commissioner Y.A. Puan Yew Jen Kie that the second defendant had agreed to the Plaintiff’s claim as follows:-
A declaration that the joint venture agreement dated 13th December 1996 between the 1st and 2nd Defendants is invalid, illegal and unenforceable, being ultra vires the Local GovernmentOrdinance 1961 and the Tawau Municipal Council Instrument 1983 (G.N.S. 22 of 1983). A declaration that the Development Plan submitted on 12” October 2004 and approved by the 2nd defendant on 27th May 2005 vide DP37/2004 is invalid, illegal and unenforceable.
An order that the said Development Plan DP37/2004 be set aside.” TMC is the second defendant. The •first defendants, the developers of the Sabindo project, i.e. Jeramas Sdn. Bhd and Aggasf Construction Sdn. Bhd, however objected to the application to enter the terms of consent judgment in court in view of the “surprise turn of events” and their lawyers successfully applied for the adjournment of the case “to allow the first defendant to take stock of the situation to reconsider the pleadings”, including whether to draw in the TMC and join the State Government as third party as the council’s approval must be with the consent of the minister concerned. The case has now been fixed for 25th January next year for hearing of a third party notice.” Lim said: “Nobody had given Jimmy and the other nine plaintiffs any chance of success in their legal suit to protect the open spaces and recreational grounds for the people of Tawau and future generations, as well as a test case on the sanctity of open spaces in Sabah and Malaysia. In fact, many regard the legal challenge as akin to a Don Quixote exercise in tilting at windmills. “It had not been an easy fight (and Jimmy was even physically assaulted once over the issue), especially as the initial application for an injunction to halt all Sabindo development construction had been dismissed in the first instance in March 2006 on the ground of lack of “locus standi” — but the 10 great Tawau plaintiffs had not been dispirited by these setbacks and had persevered in their battle for justice and good governance.” Lim stressed that the Sabindo open spaces legal suit is no Don Quixote exercise nor just a legalistic matter but concerns the quality of life and good governance in our country. “The controversy had dragged on long enough and I hope that there could be an all- round amicable settlement so that the bold and courageous concession by the TMC that it had acted illegally and unlawfully could be a salutary lesson for all parties concerned not only in Tawau but for the whole of Sabah and Malaysia and would not go to waste because of continuing litigation over the issue. “I would call on the Sabindo developers Jeramas Sdn Bhd and Aggasf Construction Sdn Bhd, who are the first defendants, to consider their CSR (corporate social responsibility) and to emulate the example of TM C to reach an amicable “win-win” settlement for the interests of the people of Tawau — where the interests of both Jeramas Sdn. Bhd and Aggasf Construction Sdn. Bhd are also taken into consideration.