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Sabah govt to pay RM6 mil to dive operators for demolition of Sipadan lodges

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Sabah govt to pay RM6 mil to dive operators for demolition of Sipadan lodges

Post Number:#1  Postby timyang » Wed Nov 17, 2010 11:18 am

KOTA KINABALU: The High Court here has ordered the Sabah government to pay more than RM6 million in special damages to five Pulau Sipadan dive operators for demolishing their lodges on the island.

Justice David Wong Dak Wah ruled in his reserved judgment yesterday that the state government had failed to give reasonable time to the plaintiffs – Sipadan Dive Centre Sdn Bhd, Borneo Sea Adventures Sdn Bhd, Syarikat Ramai Benar Sdn Bhd, Pulau Bajau Sdn Bhd and Sipadan Borneo Resort Management Sdn Bhd – to wind down business at the world famous diving haven.

He ordered interest at the rate of 8% per annum on quantum of damages from the date of the judgment to the full settlement of the payment.

Sipadan Dive Centre was represented by counsel Alex Decena while counsel Douglas Primus acted for the four other companies.

State Attorney-General Roderic Fernandez and Dayangku Fazidah Bagul represented the state government.

In their suit filed on March 1, 2007, the plaintiffs, naming Sabah government as the sole defendant, asked the court to declare that they were entitled to compensation for the demolition of their buildings and loss of their proprietary interests in their dive sports on Sipadan Island, and for breach of their legitimate expectations.

The plaintiffs had been operating their dive resorts on Sipadan Island since 1991 in compliance with a directive from the National Security Council (NSC).

In a letter dated March 26, 2004, the defendant directed the operators to demolish all structures on the island and leave.

The directive was purportedly on the ground that Malaysia had to fulfil its international obligations following the decision by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) which had granted Malaysia sovereignty of the island in a dispute with Indonesia.

On Jan 1, 2005, the operators ceased their operations on the island and dismantled their buildings and structures. However, some buildings were demolished by the defendant.

At all material times, though, without the knowledge of plaintiffs, the Federal Cabinet had on July 2, 2003 approved the construction of a RM4.5 million club house on the island.

Surprising and irrational

The plaintiffs had contended that the defendant's demolition and eviction order was surprising and irrational because the Sabah Tourism Master Plan Report 1996 did not recommend a total ban on overnight stay on the island.

Furthermore, the Semporna Distict Council approved one of the plaintiff's development plans on Dec 2, 2003 to develop a beach resort on Pulau Sipadan.

When Sipadan Borneo Resort Management Sdn Bhd submitted two redevelopment proposals and various conservation matters affecting the island, the plaintiffs claimed that they still had the legitimate expectations because they had been established for some time on the island and had contributed to the diving and tourism industry.

Further, prior to the ICJ's decision on Dec 17, 2002 that sovereignty of Pulau Ligitan and Pulau Sipadan belongs to Malaysia, the plaintiffs had furnished information regarding their diving operations on the island in compliance with NSC's request to support Malaysia's claim.

The plaintiffs called six witnesses during the full trial which started on April 21 this year while state government did not call any witness.
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Re: Sabah govt to pay RM6 mil to dive operators for demolition of Sipadan lodges

Post Number:#2  Postby Gimbadik » Sun Mar 13, 2011 12:00 pm

Hey there

I believe this write up is not quite correct. The High Court did not award any monetary compensation to the Sipadan operators. On the agreement of Counsel, the learned judge only decided on liability. The damages have yet to be assessed by the Court. And also, the Attorney-General has filed their appeal to the Court of Appeal. No date for the hearing of the appeal has been fixed. 
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