KOTA KINABALU: Parti Warisan Sabah (Warisan) vice president, Datuk Junz Wong blatantly lied when he said that the previous Warisan-led State government stopped State GLC Sawit Kinabalu from evicting smallholders at the Bagahak plantation in Lahad Datu, a family member of the smallholders said today.
“Junz was lying through his teeth when he bragged about his party stopping the eviction of the Bagahak smallholders because Sawit Kinabalu had never issued such eviction notice,” said Datu Shuaib Mutalib, who had been pursuing this case.
Instead, the smallholders’ land would have been lost if not for an injunction obtained by two smallholders in 2018, Shuaib said.
Commenting on Junz press statement that the previous Warisan-led government had given land to the people instead of evicting them, the Tanjung Aru Assemblyman was just trying to hoodwink the people, he added.
“In fact, when Warisan and its allies took over the State government in 2018, they had instructed Sawit Kinabalu Group to withdraw the case against Datuk Christina Liew, then a cabinet minister even though Sawit Kinabalu won the case against her at the Tawau High Court on Sept 30, 2014.
“Liew and two others were found to have illegally induced the smallholders to breach their joint-venture contract with Sawit Kinabalu. The formula for the out-of-court settlement in 2018 was that Bagahak land ownership was to be given to a private company without any payment,” he said.
However, the settlement could not be carried out since the smallholders objected, he said, adding that two smallholders succeeded in getting an injunction from the High Court to stop Sawit Kinabalu and the change ownership of the Bagahak land without their agreement.
On May 20, 2020, the Chief Minister and Warisan-led state government decided on a new formula to give 18,000 hectares of the Yayasan Sabah-owned land in Paitan to Sawit Kinabalu as replacement for the Bagahak 2 and 3 lands given to the smallholders.
This arrangement sees Sawit Kinabalu suffering huge losses since it has already invested millions of ringgit to develop the Bagahak 2 and 3 lands.
Junz Wong should apologise on behalf of himself and his Warisan-era Cabinet for all the wrongs inflicted on smallholders during their Warisan time in power, said Shuaib.-BorneoGazette