Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Logging firms apply to cite villagers, lawyer for contempt(Malaysiakini)


I, Charles Hector, being a lawyer for me clients, who wrote a letter in performance of my professional duties, is currently facing Contempt action - An application for LEAVE to commence Contempt proceedings against me and my 8 clients, is now fixed for hearing at the Kuantan High Court on 25/3/2021. The Plaintiffs claim to be Logging Contractors, and the 8 Defendants come from a Malay community who have been protesting logging of the Jerantut Permanent Forest Reserve since about 2013. 

Look forward to your support

Below a relevant media report .. 

See also earlier/relevant posts 

Initiation of contempt proceedings against lawyer acting for his clients is a travesty of justice - ALIRAN

Syarikat balak mohon prosiding menghina terhadap peguam, penduduk kampung(Malaysiakini)


Logging firms apply to cite villagers, lawyer for contempt

Annabelle Lee

Modified 1:10 pm
  • UPDATED March 23: A representative of the logging firms' lawyers has declined to comment.

Two logging firms have applied to initiate contempt of court proceedings against eight villagers and their lawyer.

This is part of a lawsuit between the firms - Beijing Million Sdn Bhd and Rosah Timber & Trading Sdn Bhd - and Kampung Baharu, a village in Jerantut, Pahang.

The companies obtained an injunction on Nov 5, 2020, to stop the eight defendants from accessing a contested 202.61ha area in the Jerantut Tambahan forest reserve. They are also suing the villagers for making accusations about them.

The defendants previously protested their logging activities, saying the villagers relied on the forest reserve to earn a living.

Speaking to Malaysiakini, lawyer Charles Hector Fernandez said the contempt of court action was initiated over a letter he sent to a Jerantut Forestry Office officer on Dec 17, 2020, on behalf of his clients in preparation for the case.

The logging firms contend that the letter constituted a violation of the injunction order.

“On Feb 20, 2020, a letter was issued by a Jerantut Forestry Officer. In his letter, he seemed to state as fact that there were a protest, disturbance and blockade by the villagers. It was for this reason that he immediately suspended all logging activities until the issue was over.

“The application for leave to commence contempt proceedings is based on a letter I sent privately only to this officer seeking clarifications, which the plaintiff alleged is a breach of the injunction order,” he explained when contacted.

Fernandez contended that his actions did not violate the injunction and will be represented by lawyer M Ramachelvam in the contempt proceedings.

The Bar Council has applied to hold a watching brief for the case.

The logging firms, represented by Messrs Jacob Goldie S.S. Chew, filed the ex-parte application in January, but the hearing was postponed due to the second movement control order (MCO 2.0).

The hearing for their application for leave to commence contempt proceedings has now been fixed for next Thursday (March 25) at the Kuantan High Court.

The defendants’ application to transfer the case to the Temerloh High Court and amend their pleadings are also fixed for the same date.

“The big worry is whether I, who has been appointed as counsel for the eight defendants, can even defend my clients at the hearing,” Fernandez said.

‘Don’t deprive lawyers of rights’

NGO Aliran has since condemned the move.

“This initiation of contempt proceedings against Fernandez and the eight defendants is extremely worrying and can be seen as a travesty of justice.

“Silencing a lawyer through contempt proceedings is essentially preventing lawyers from carrying out their professional duty to their clients,” it said in a statement dated March 16.

Aliran further said that a lawyer ought to be able to obtain all necessary documents before a trial.

“Lawyers should not be deprived of their right to prepare for a trial, including obtaining all the salient facts to argue their case in court.

“The defendants should not be denied their right to a counsel of their choice,” it said.

When contacted, the logging firms' lawyers' representative declined to comment due to sub judice concerns. - Malaysiakini, 23/3/2021

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Logging firms sue Jerantut villagers in row over forest reserve

Yasmin Ramlan

Modified 18 Oct 2020, 10:42 am

Logging companies Beijing Million Sdn Bhd and Rosah Timber & Trading Sdn Bhd have filed legal action against eight individuals from Kampung Baharu in Jerantut, Pahang over allegations that the latter prevented the companies' workers and contractors from carrying out works in a nearby forest reserve.

The plaintiffs, through legal firm Jacob Goldie SS Chew, filed a writ of summons against the villagers at the Kuantan High Court on July 14.

According to the writ, the companies had applied an injunction order to stop the eight defendants from preventing the plaintiffs from accessing the forest area known as Kompartment 1A Hutan Simpan Jerantut Tambahan, Mukim Tebing Tinggi, which covers 202.61ha.

The companies claimed to have obtained approvals from the Forestry Department through letters dated Sept 15, 2019.

They seek the court to stop the defendants from disseminating false information or pictures through the Facebook page "Bantah Pembalakan di Kawasan Tadahan Air di Kampung Baharu, Jerantut, Pahang" or any media.

The eight defendants are Mohamed Said, Mohamed Zarrif Mahmud, Mohamad Hafizi Rosnan, Saifulnizam Sulaiman, Sukmarizal Nazman, Shukran Firdaus Nazman, Mohammad Zakirin Hasan and Mohamad Lozi Mohd Nasir.

The writ stated that in April 2019, the plaintiffs learned about postings on the said Facebook page which hurled serious allegations against them.

Hence, the plaintiffs demanded general damages, aggravated damages and exemplary damages against the defendants.

However, in an affidavit dated Sept 28 by one of the defendants, Mohamad Hafizi, claimed that the plaintiffs had initiated the writ with ill-intention and wrongly applied for the ex-parte injunction without issuing notices to him and other defendants.

"I would like to state that other defendants and I believe that the plaintiffs' ill-intention is probably to deny the defendants' rights to oppose and highlight the issue.

"The defendants' hopes are that the forest and its nearby area which the locals rely on to earn a living should remain a forest reserve and be prohibited from logging," said Mohamad Hafizi in his affidavit sighted by Malaysiakini.

He added that if the logging activities were allowed, the locals would have to bear huge losses in economic activities and this would affect their fish farms.

Mohamad Hafizi said the villagers' protest against the logging in the forest area was conducted “legally and peacefully, where the focus was more towards the authorities, and/or the government”.

Villagers not consulted

He questioned the change of the forest status which had allowed the logging activity to take place without consulting the locals.

"I don't believe that the state government conducted an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) and/or Detailed Environment Impact Assessment (DEIA), social impacts, and other research on the impact of logging to the environment and the locals,” said Mohamad Hafizi.

"I have yet to access the documents which are needed by the locals for the evaluation purpose."

The case mention has been scheduled on Oct 22 at Kuantan High Court. - Malaysiakini, 17/10/2020


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