Shanty Chong filed class action for 856,484 acres of land promised to Sabahans but alienated to outsiders

Two days ago, Shanty Chong, who will contest the Sandakan parliamentary seat on the DAP ticket, was the lawyer who filed legal proceedings in the Tawau High Court over 856,484 acres of land promised to Sabahans but alienated to outsiders.

Shanty is the lawyer for the class action on behalf of three plaintiffs, Nasir Manaf and Wong Chaw Yen of Lahad Datu and Henry Apok from Menggatal.

Ex-PBS Cabinet sued
Daily Express
20 February, 2008

Tawau: Three land applicants filed a suit Tuesday against the entire State Cabinet Ministers under the tenure of the Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) Government (1985-1994).

The suit filed in the Tawau High Court registry was in connection with a New Land Alienation Policy (Smallholders Scheme) which was introduced by the then Berjaya Govenrment on Dec. 4, 1979.

The three plaintiffs claimed that when PBS came to power, the then Chief Minister Datuk Seri Joseph Pairin Kitingan (first defendant) and his eight Cabinet Ministers failed to implement the promised policy.

Three of them – Pairin, Dompok and Kurup are presidents of PBS, Upko and PBRS parties respectively while most of the others no longer hold key political positions.

Pairin is a Deputy Chief Minister-cum-ural Development Minister in the current State Government while Dompok is a Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department. Kurup is chairman of SLDB, a government agency.

The plaintiffs Nasir Manaf and Wong Chaw Yen of Lahad Datu and Henry Apok from Menggatal filed their writ of summons through the legal firm of Messrs Chee & Co of Tawau.

The other named as second to ninth defendants are Tan Sri Bernard Dompok, Tan Sri Joseph Kurup, Datuk Ahmad Bahrom Abu Bakar Titingan, Datuk Kadoh Agundong, Datuk Tan Kit Sher, Datuk Haji Nahalan Damsal and Datuk Chau Tet On.

In their statement of claim, the plaintiff stated that on Dec. 4, 1979 then Chief Minister Datuk Harris Mohd Salleh announced that the State Government had reserved a total of 906,330 acres of State land for landless Sabahans under a New Land Alienation Policy.

The lands were to be alienated directly or through Government agencies at 15 acres to each landless Sabahan. The landless were invited to register at the nearest Land Office throughout the State. The plaintiffs claimed that they had registered for the lands in the early 1980s and had each waited for the 15 acres land to be given to them as promised.

They claimed that the defendants, who were Ministers in the new PBS State Government that had just toppled Berjaya, had all the authority, power and obligation to fulfill the Berjaya State Government’s contracts and had even from time to time made statements assuring that every Sabahan would be given 15 acres to uplift the standard of living of the rural people.

The plaintiffs claimed that the statements regularly made by those among the defendants were fraudulent because, in fact, the PBS Government headed by Pairin and including the eight other defendants deliberately breached the contract and assurance made in 1979 by the Berjaya Government. The plaintiffs further claimed that the nine defendants had committed fraud by violating and breaching the contract by not giving the lands to the landless, but to outsiders instead.

Further the plaintiffs claimed that one of the defendants had disclosed that out of the 906,330 acres promised by Berjaya Government, 856,484 acres had been alienated to outsiders.

They claimed that the defendant’s statement on this was published in the Daily Express on Dec. 7 and 15, 2005, publication.

The plaintiffs are seeking declarations that the Berjaya Government land policy was a binding contract and agreement between them and the defendants who had inherited the State Government.

They further sought a declaration that whatever subsequent alienation to other party or parties of the said reserved lands which had been promised, committed and reserved for the plaintiffs as landless Sabahans were null and void because of fraud allegedly committed by the defendants.

The plaintiffs now sought the defendants either to given 15 acres each or pay damages for loss of rights and opportunity to own land.

They sought that should the plaintiffs failed to give them 15 acres of land each, they are claiming damages at RM75,000 each from the defendants.

  1. #1 by boh-liao on Thursday, 21 February 2008 - 6:58 pm

    Great action. Go, go, go!

    Expose and punish the incompetent politicians.

    AAB says ‘I am fair, will be fair and always be fair.’

    AAB is beginning to seem like fair, sound like fair, but really not fair at all! All of us should bear this in mind come 8 March 2008.

  2. #2 by Jeffrey on Thursday, 21 February 2008 - 8:27 pm

    The filing of class action by Shanty Chong of legal proceedings may help raise his political profile as DAP candidate for Sandakan but whether such an action will actually succeed based on existing law is totally another question and moot.

    The Seremban DAP in the 1980s also took an action for 11 Ulu Temiang squatters who were promised lands by the government land officials although the Seremban State government subsequently alienated the land otherwise to a development company Lesco Sdn. Bhd.

    The case of the 11 squatters versus Lesco and the Seremban state government was fought right up to Federal Court presided by our legal luminary Judge Eusoffe Abdoolcader and the judicial Federal Court decision favoured, as a matter of precedent, the government.

    Peoples promised lands who suffer political promises to them being reneged faces little recourse againsty politicians based on our existing law.

    If the aggrieved justify their claim on contract, it can easily be rebutted that a political promise by a politician is not a contract, there being no intention to create legal relations.

    So the aggreived have to base their claim on the alternative ground of Lord Denning’s estoppel – that if one relies on a promise and suffers detriment in form of inconvenience in registering in the nearest land office as Nasir Manaf and Wong Chaw Yen of Lahad Datu and Henry Apok from Menggatal did, the Sabah State government shall be estopped from otherwise denying their right to claim the lands as promised….

    This estoppel is based on an old English case of Inwards vs Bakers.

    The problem is that it is settled law here and in England that the principle of estoppel in Inwards Bakers apply to only private relations (as between parent and son in the facts of that case) : there the father promised son that if he expended money to build a house on his land he could live there forever. The father died the property went to the step mother, the step mother sought to evict the son, the son sought the protection of estoppel.

    The problem is that estoppel as in Inwards Bakers has no application to the government and public authority whose discretion to alienate land to whomsoever (even when it constitutes the reneging of promises by its officials or ministers in the government) is unfettered and absolute, grounded on public policy and public interest.

    And it is difficult to challenge the state government or authority that its reneging of earlier promises and alienation of land to unrelated third parties is in fact contrary to public policy and public interest.

    This is because our whole body of law including administrative law is predicated on the assumption that the government or public authority knows best what is public policy or public interest and whose decision in these areas are conclusive and binding, outside judicial review as to their reasonableness.

    The squatters in Lesco case lost but neither did Lesco nor the Negeri Sembilan State govt that had 20% equity stake in Lesco.

    Such was the Karma, the court case took 6 years and by the time the Federal Court decision was handed down in its favour, the property market had a severe downturn in late 1980s, the houses couldn’t sell in Ulu Temiang, the financier MBSB recalled the loan and the directors of Lesco who gave guarantees nearly became bankrupt. The project never took off sucessfully.

  3. #3 by cheng on soo on Thursday, 21 February 2008 - 8:53 pm

    856484 acres nearly equal to size of Penang, Perlis and Melaka states combined. What a blatant act by the corrupt politicians! That is the result of giving more than 2/3 majorities so many times to bn.

  4. #4 by hiro on Thursday, 21 February 2008 - 9:18 pm

    Nothing like a serious class action to beef up one’s profile before an election. Bravo!

  5. #5 by zack on Friday, 22 February 2008 - 1:04 am

    ….. State Cabinet Ministers under the tenure of the Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) Government (1985-1994)….. this must during the era of Semangat 46 … the PBS is in the opposition side then. In fact there’s even a pact between DAP-PBS-Semangat 46 in Sabah then. Remember the famous Kadazan head-gear worn by Tengku Razaleigh .. which many believed was the main reason why the pact failed to defeat BN. 1990 was the best time ever for the DAP to make any significant footing in Malaysian politics. If the DAP can’t do it in 1990 ang in 1999 (reformasi era) …can anybody convince me that the DAP wll make a different now! Today1

  6. #6 by pilihanrayaexpert on Friday, 22 February 2008 - 6:06 am

    I think still can’t deny 2/3 majority !

    BN use the media to wash plp’s brain !!!!

  7. #7 by dawsheng on Friday, 22 February 2008 - 9:09 am

    The song “Go west” was originally perform by the disco group Village People (remember “YMCA”?) in 1979 and later cover by Pet Shop Boys 1993.

  8. #8 by Bill Gates on Friday, 22 February 2008 - 3:43 pm

    Syabas Shanty Chong. We need more people like you to fight for the rights of the people

  9. #9 by k1980 on Saturday, 23 February 2008 - 8:57 am

    How can a national monopoly suffer a RM33.6m net loss? No competitors and yet cannot even make a profit!

  10. #10 by shortie kiasu on Sunday, 24 February 2008 - 1:56 pm

    Is it legally possible to sue the previous administration after more than 6 years? Why not just sue the government of the day. Afterall at the end of the day it is still the people’s money that goes into compensation whichever governments, whether the curent one or the previous one, loss the case and has to pay compensation.

  11. #11 by shortie kiasu on Sunday, 24 February 2008 - 2:01 pm

    Would that ‘outsiders’ who got the big chunk of land and reap the most benefits be punished in any way? Or asked to pay compensation to those applicants?

    Otherwise, we have the usually case of:- ‘the government made mistakes or abused power, or corrupted and favoured ‘outsiders’, it got away scot-free, but, the people and tax payers had to bear the consequential cost of compensation and damages, if the plaintiff won the suit at the end of the day.

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