Raub durian farmers win reprieve as court halts eviction pending judicial review bid

A group of durian farmers display a banner outside the Kuantan Court Complex in Kuantan August 28, 2018. — Picture courtesy of Samka
A group of durian farmers display a banner outside the Kuantan Court Complex in Kuantan August 28, 2018. — Picture courtesy of Samka

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 28 — The High Court in Kuantan ordered Pahang authorities to suspend all enforcement and eviction measures against a group of durian farmers in Raub until their application for judicial review is decided.

The Save Musang King Alliance (Samka), the coalition of durian farmers in Raub who sought the judicial review, disclosed their application and related court decision in a statement today.

The hearing for their application is on October 28.

“This order is a minor victory for the durian farmers, durian farmers who have shown solidarity and courage against the oppression by large companies and the government,” the group said in a statement.

Samka lauded the decision, saying it meant they would continue to have access to their plants until the courts decide the matter.

The group went on to accuse the Pahang state government of reneging on its promise not to proceed with the evictions and of conspiring with businesses.

Samka is locked in a dispute with the Royal Pahang Durian Resources-PKPP Sdn Bhd (RPDR-PKPP) joint venture that it previously claimed was locking smallholders into “modern slavery” through contractual agreements.

It alleged durian farmers were offered an “exploitative and unequal” contract by RPDR-PKPP after the Pahang state government announced that the land they were occupying without permit would be leased to this company to “legalise” the land.

RPDR-PKPP is a venture between the Pahang royalty-linked Royal Pahang Durian Group (RPD Group) and the state’s Perbadanan Kemajuan Pertanian Negeri Pahang (PKPP).

During an interview with Malay Mail, a RPDG spokesman denied Samka’s claims and explained that the firm was instead protecting the industry from foreign players.

The joint venture firm’s stated aim was to build and operate Malaysia’s largest durian processing centre in Raub by June 2021.

According to previous reports, the Pahang state government granted RPDR-PKPP in June the lease and rights to use 2,168ha of land in Raub for 30-plus-30 years, with the joint venture partners alleging that durian farmers had been illegally using those land.

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