Tawau Municipal Council (TMC)
commended for admitting that the Sabindo development and encroachment of
Tawau open spaces illegal and invalid and I offer my conciliation and
mediation services to ensure that Sabindo developers, Jeramas Sdn Bhd and
Aggasf Construction Sdn Bhd, the 10 Tawau plaintiffs and all Tawau
ratepayers can reach an amicable “win-win” comprehensive settlement for the
interests of all parties
Media Conference (2)
by Lim Kit Siang
I commend the Tawau Municipal
Council (TMC) for admitting that the Sabindo development and encroachment
of Tawau open spaces is illegal and invalid and I call on Sabindo
developers, Jeramas Sdn Bhd and Aggasf Construction Sdn Bhd to emulate the
example of TMC to reach an amicable “win-win” settlement for the interests
of the people of Tawau.
DAP leaders and I had attended several public meetings in Tawau over the
scandal of the encroachment and deprivation of the open spaces in Tawau,
subordinating the public interests of the people of Tawau to private
profit-making in disregard of the law and public policy.
DAP MP for Seputeh Teresa Kok and I had also raised in Parliament the
issue of the lack of municipal good governance as illustrated by the
Sabindo open space scandal, with the Tawau municipality teeming with
“Little Napoleons” defying the Prime Minister and the Sabah State Cabinet
in depriving the fundamental right of the people of Tawau to open spaces
and recreational grounds.
I was very uplifted when I was informed 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 on the unlawful Sabindo development
project and the encroachment of the Tawau open spaces and recreational
grounds – that 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.
Jimmy showed me the Borneo Post report “Surprising twist in
Tawau open space debt case – Council agrees joint-venture pact for project
is invalid” dated 20th December 2007 which reads:
“by Alan 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
claims as follows:
1. 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 Government Ordinance 1961 and the Tawau Municipal Council Instrument
1983 (G.N.S. 22 of 1983).
2. A declaration that the Development Plan submitted on 12th October 2004
and approved by the 2nd defendant on 27th May 2005 vides DP37/2004 is
invalid, illegal and unenforceable.
3. 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 Aggasif 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.
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
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
The Sabindo/Tawau Open Spaces legal suit is no Don Quixote exercise or
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 to 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 TMC 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.
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.
Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic
Planning Commission Chairman