KUANTAN, 20 April 2009: The High Court has ordered the Pahang Menteri Besar to pay logging company Seruan Gemilang Makmur Sdn Bhd RM63 million within 14 days from today.
Justice Datuk Abd Halim Aman made the order after allowing the company’s application for a writ of mandamus with cost.
He said the mandamus action was filed following the state government’s failure to pay the judgement sum granted since 25 May 2007 and the applicant having exhausted all legal avenues.
“This kind of stance reflects the state government’s refusal to comply with statutory obligations and thus, unreasonably burdening the people in general because it will burden the state government in terms of daily interest,” he said.
He also said the respondent’s application to set aside the mandamus action with a written argument that the company had wrongly named Menteri Besar as the respondent was defective.
“The Menteri Besar is the right and qualified person to be named as the respondent because in Pahang and any other states except Sabah and Sarawak, the post of State Finance Minister does not exist,” he said.
He said Article 41(1) of the Pahang government constitution also states that the Menteri Besar has the authority and is competent to settle a payment sum from the State Consolidated Fund.
Seruan Gemilang was represented by counsel Rajoo D Moothy and Richard Bong Chong Fook while Datuk Shafie Abdullah acted for Pahang Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob.
On 9 Dec 2002, the company filed a suit against the Pahang government and State Forestry Director for a breach of agreement pertaining to the extraction of timber from a 4,000-hectare concession area in Mukim Bebar, Pekan, and won.
On 17 Sept last year, the Pahang Government was ordered to pay RM60 million to the company after it failed in its final effort at the Federal Court to obtain leave to appeal.
With this, the Federal Court reaffirmed the original decision of the Kuantan High Court on 25 May 2007 that the Pahang government was to pay the company RM37,127,471.60 with eight percent interest per annum from 31 Dec 2000.
The logging company filed the mandamus application on 15 Oct last year, saying that it had demanded the judgement sum with interest through a solicitor’s letter on 27 Aug last year. It had also furnished an endorsement letter under Section 33 of the Government Proceedings Act 1956 on 7 April the same year, but did not receive any payment.
Meanwhile, State Legal Adviser Datuk Mat Zara’Ai Alias said his office would apply for a stay of execution of today’s order tomorrow.
A judicial review application had been filed against the Federal Court’s 17 Sept decision, he said. — Bernama